The Tina Keng Gallery is pleased to present Eight Days a Week — Yao Jui-chung Solo Exhibition, on view from February 18 to March 16, 2017. Grounded in the unique landscape style that Yao has developed from emulating traditionalshanshui, this exhibition comprises an array of old and new works enlivened by cartoon elements, as well as literary and art eccentrics, embodying how the artist’s practice undulates through time. At the turn of the year it is perhaps time to look back and redefine certain personal experiences. Immersed in a new reality where he has become a father of two daughters in his mid-forties, Yao Jui-chung has found new objects and remnants of memories as the subject matter for his painting, allowing his perceptive and radical style to evolve with more daily experiences as the backbone of his rebellious art practice.
The exhibition is inspired by the keen contrast between the artist’s past and present. As a loving father who spent years watching over his little girls, Yao yearns for the art friends who kept him company in his youthful days. In his latest “Baby” series, many popular cartoon characters and patterns abound. They either decorate the painting frame, or enshroud the Yao-style landscape in the painting, revealing the inevitable fact that Yao’s life as a father of two has been completely overwhelmed by this consumer culture.
Seeking consolation, Yao painted Eight Days a Week, a polyptychwork that incorporates some of the art friends from his past: from the comrades with whom he co-wrote and co-edited the book Taipei 100, to the anarchists with whom he roamed the ruins, from the risk-takingartists who wrestled with him on the mahjong table during their “New Year’s Day Cup,” to the middle-aged guys who were obsessed with hot springs. Many of these people have become the power players in the Taiwanese art and literary circles. Hence, viewing the painting up close brings a sense of fun and familiarity.
This exhibition is a reflection of two identities: the striving artist from the past who walked the lonely road of art making, and the father he has become today, who adores his children just like many other fathers in the world. Switching between these two roles, Yao Jui-chung segues from scattered, whimsical thoughts of an artist to a universal sentiment that resonates with the times. It is in this creative process that he has honed his artistic language with finesse.
It has been ten years since the Yao-style landscape was conceived in 2007, when Yao Jui-chung participated in the Glenfiddich Artists in Residence program, which became the turning point in his artistic practice. In the 90s Yao was known for his poignant, satiric work, which intuitively revealed the absurdity in Taiwanese politics, while searching for a way out for the collective whole through provocative behavior.
Such a radical, robust artistic language took on a much more delicate and moderate tone when Yao reached the Glenfiddich winery in the Scottish Highlands. The artist shifted toward the seemingly traditional genre of shanshuipainting, where he poked fun of the so-called orthodox. By incorporating everyday personal experiences in contemporary society and symbols of consumer culture into an ancient landscape, Yao unexpectedly highlighted an imbecility and emancipation.Just like that, his art practice evolved through this past decade in such a resplendent landscape, mirroring memories of personal history from different stages of life.
Today we look forward to seeing yet another painting of his where empty space is blanketed in gold foil, and rich, fine lines of the needle pen stretch and wind across thick, crude paper handmade in India, as the pigments rise and fall with an enduring spirit of the artist.
Born in 1969 in Taipei, Taiwan, Yao Jui-chung now lives and works in Taipei. He graduated in 1994 from the National Institute of the Arts (Taipei National University of the Arts) with a degree in art theory. He has exhibited internationally, including the Venice Biennale (Taiwan Pavilion, 1997), Shanghai Biennale (2012), Media City Seoul Biennale (2014), Asia Triennial Manchester (2014), Asia Biennale (2015), among others. He also received the 2013 Multitude Art Prize and the 2015 APB Foundation Signature Art Prize.
Yao specializes in photography, installation, and painting. The themes of his works are varied, but revolve mainly around the absurdity of the human condition. Notable works include the “Action Series.”He explores the question of Taiwan’s identity in Military Takeover(1994), subverts modern Chinese political myths in Recovering Mainland China(1997), and examines post-colonialism in The World is for All(1997–2000), as well as Long March — Shifting the Universe (2002). In recent years, he has created photo installations, interweaving the style of “gold and green landscape” with superstitions that permeate Taiwanese folklore, expressing a false and alienated “cold reality” that is specific to Taiwan, as well as another series where he combines silver foil with photography installations in an attempt to discern the relationship between body and soul.Since 2007, Yao has begun a series of works, including Wonderful (2007), where he appropriates masterpieces from Chinese art history and recreates them in his own way, transforming them into his personal history or real stories in an attempt to turn grand narratives into the trivial affairs of his individual life. Yao intends to usurp so called orthodoxy with his recreated landscapes.Between 2010 and 2016, Yao grouped his students into a team of photography workshop where theyphotographed and surveyed their hometowns for the infamous “mosquito house.” Yao compiled these photographs and published "Mirage: Disused Public Property in Taiwan" volumes I-IV, which he intended as a reminder for the general public and as reference material for the government. The book itself and related exhibitions have received fervent media attention.
Yao has published several books, including Installation Art in Taiwan since 1991–2001(2002), The New Wave of Contemporary Taiwan Photography Since 1999(2003), Roam the Ruins of Taiwan(2004), and Performance Art in Taiwan 1978–2004(2005). His works have been housed in the collections of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan; Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, Taiwan; Asia University Museum of Modern Art, Taichung, Taiwan; Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei, Taiwan; Hong-gah Museum, Taipei, Taiwan; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia; Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art Collection, Cornell University, USA; Kadist Foundation, San Francisco, USA, among other renowned institutions. His past teaching experiences include the Taipei National University of the Arts, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, National Taipei University of Education, and Shih Chien University. Now Yao Jui-chung works as an artist and holds a teaching position at the National Taiwan Normal University’s Department of Fine Arts. He is also a board member of theNational Culture and Arts Foundation.