Tuesday, September 29, 2015

From Calligraphy to Abstract Expressionism

“The search for the form in one’s art is the ultimate mission statement for an artist.”
Chuang Che

The Chinese/American painter Chuang Che’s life has been a 5 decade journey to merge the traditional techniques of his Chinese heritage with his fascination of abstract expressionism gained from his visits to the West.

As New York’s David Findlay Jr’s gallery reports him as saying ““No art can mature by itself; it has to absorb nutrition from the rest of the world’s art. I’ve always had this ideal; to see a fusion of Chinese and Western painting.”

Born in Peking [Beijing] and growing up in Taiwan Che’s father was responsible for the safe keeping of the art treasures from the collections of Peking Palace Museum during the troubled times of the Sino/Japanese war and the Chinese civil war. He was also a noted calligrapher.

It was an early influence for Che about which he wrote in his essay Mountains and Rivers in My Heart “My father, a master of many calligraphic styles, always favored the running cursive style. I have watched him practicing his art since my childhood; the twisting and turning of his wrist, the changing spacing and cornering of his strokes, the varied spatial arrangements in sizes and angular relations of the his characters … all of these had become a kind of foundation training for my visual perception.”

In his early twenties Che attended the Department of Fine Arts at National Taiwan Normal University and upon graduation he joined with fellow Taiwanese artists interested in modernizing Chinese art in the Fifth Moon Group.

A 1966 grant from John D. Rockefeller III Fund enable him to study contemporary international art in the United States at the time when abstract expressionism was at its peak.

Seven years later Che moved permanently to the United States and everything started to fall into place.

About which Che wrote in the summer of 1973 “Suddenly all the things that I have ever wanted to express before be­came possible… In one of the bedrooms I began to paint furiously. In the autumn of that same year, I had an exhibition in town… Where did all the paintings come from? I think they were the beneficial result of past failures, ev­idence that all the energy and time spent were well worthwhile.”

In 2005 Che reminisced further writing “Although the road leading from calligraphy into the realm of painting has been there for a long, long time, it took me over thirty years to hammer out a way to draw from their various elements, synthesize them and infuse them into a brand new art form. In painting, one’s ideas need to be fleshed out with his sensibility about time and space, just as pure reason, guiding one’s behavior, needs to be accompanied by human emotions, lest the person becomes a stiff and lifeless being.”

Currently the Taipei Fine Arts Museum is showing Effusive Vitality: CHUANG CHE Retrospective Exhibition until the 3rd of January next year.

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