Comprising a diverse body of work and archives, Imagery of Yore in Rear View evokes the creative spirit of the Hantoo Art Group in 2017 and 1998. The group has matured over the years as the artist members undertake a wide range of activities. This exhibition examines the 14 artists as an artistic organism and their respective practices that navigate personal and collective history.
The numbers 2017 and 1998 in the exhibition title serve as more than temporal indication, but a relative divide that juxtaposes the Hantoo artists’ past and present.The 2017 section highlights their latest body of work as a manifestation of the artists’ most recent creative effort, while the 1998 section displays their work alongside sketches, manuscripts, and found objects. If art is an everyday act that never ceases, this exhibition is an attempt to contextualize the archives that chronicle each artist’s journey. Therefore, under the premise that the artists have developed two different trajectories between 2017 and 1998, the exhibition cross-references the archives from 19 years ago and the artists’ practices today.
Imagery of Yore in Rear Viewpivots around the idea of examining imagery of the past in the present day in order to denote a bygone moment. In addition to the literal meaning of “image,” the Chinese character “圖” in the exhibition title is a pun for the name “Hantoo.” Despite the equivocal connotations of the punning title, the exhibition aims to highlight the individual artists instead of the art group as a whole. It is, however, undeniable that the organic workings of the group have left an indelible mark on these individuals and their practices. Since its inception in 1998, Hantoo has inherited the legacy of Taiwanese modern and contemporary painting for the last two decades, connoting localness and nativeness within the context of Taiwanese art history. Their early years saw the Hantoo members voiced concerns about the marginalization of painting as a medium in Taiwanese contemporary art. Together these artists have forged a community where they share mutualistic experiences, a community that has grown outside the confines of the group. Their creative effort has eventually blossomed into a nourishing artistic environment where Taiwanese contemporary imagery continues to evolve.
What the exhibition explores is not merely the Hantoo members’ artistic achievement, but their metamorphosis and its creative repercussions that have shaped their practice. The juxtaposition of their formal and informal bodies of work in 2017 and in 1998 draws the viewer into the world of an art group whose seminal style paves the way for Taiwanese contemporary art. Despite being part of the emblem of Hantoo, these 14 artists have developed their individual set of aesthetics that culminate in their eccentric approach to art making.
Artistic achievement cannot be isolated and measured in a single segment of time, as artists and their practice are bound to grow and mature. Contrasting works-in-progress and formal pieces, personal history and creative practice, individual and collective, past and present, this exhibition paints an epitome of modernism and postmodernism in Taiwan in its scrutiny of some of the island’s trailblazing homegrown artists.