Take in the scenery—The poetry of contemporary painting across the Taiwan Straits
by Takahiro Kaneshima
“A painting in the poem, and a poem in the painting”—such was the judgment of the Song Dynasty poet Su Shi (Su Dongpo) upon seeing the poetry and paintings of the Tang poet Wang Wei. What he meant was that Wang Wei's descriptions of natural scenery in his poetry could make the reader feel as if they were part of a painted landscape, while the conceptions of his paintings conveyed the special beauty of poetry. Thus while poetry and painting belong to different spheres of artistic endeavor, each with their own rules, characteristics, and modes of expression, they are mutually compatible in terms of the shared artistic conceptions they can convey.
The six artists featured in “Take in the scenery” work with the painter's brush, rather than the poet's pen. But their paintings reveal the thought processes unique to each individual artist, and together, they speak to us of their firm conviction about continuing to paint with the brush, even this era of rapidly advancing media and technology and the search for ever greater speed and convenience in our lives. The Tang and Song dynasties represented periods of thriving cultural development in Chinese history; some among today's artists have inherited their artistic spirit and continue to extend those traditions in their creative work.
“Take in the scenery” features three Chinese artists—Chi Ming, Zhai Liang, and Zhan Chong—and three Taiwanese artists—Cheng Po-Tsung, Lin Yen Wei, and Ni Ho-Tsu. They are all members of the “post-80's” generation, yet the circumstances of their lives, and their educational backgrounds, are so vastly different. In their painting, some choose to focus on expressing inner psychological states, while others take daily life as their subject. Their works convey differing worldviews through their decisions about form, medium, technique, and scale, but what all have in common is their presentation of a poetic view: a poem in the painting.
Viewers of “Take in the scenery” will note the strong literary quality of many of the works, and the way they seem to evoke remembered experiences: of watching movies, or reading a novel, or reciting poetry or reading comics. The paintings of these artists have been shaped into their current forms by the influence of these various creative mediums encountered in their daily lives, and they display all the great diversity of contemporary painting.