Two of the most renowned and accomplished artists of Taiwan: the sculptor, Ju Ming and the painter, Ch・iu Ya-tsai.

Inspired by the study of taichi, meaning .shadow boxing・ in Chinese, at an early age, Ju Ming・s monumental Taichi series sculptures in wood and bronze have been exhibited throughout Asia, Europe and the United States, with notable exhibitions on the waterfront on Hong Kong Harbor (1988), at The South Bank Centre in London (1991) and Place Vendome in Paris (1996).  This exhibition will feature two larger-than-life-sized bronze sculptures together with a group of smaller pieces executed in monkagilo wood. Born into a poor family in rural Taiwan in 1938, Ju Ming received training in traditional wood carving as a teenager. In the 1960s, though already an established master craftsman, he sought to develop his art further by apprenticing himself to the European-trained sculptor, Yuyu Yang, recognized for his abstract polished steel sculpture. It was Yang who introduced Ju Ming to the contemporary art world, trained him in the working of metal and suggested that Ju Ming practice taichi. Ju Ming has commented that the self-cultivation he practices in taichi has made it possible for the cultivation of his art. In his figures are expressed all the forces and energies that flow contained through the body. Like taichi, in which the body is required to proceed from movement to stillness and back again in individual fluid gestures, so Ju Ming・s sculptures evoke a sense of movement, solid mass and essential form.

 

As Ju Ming・s self-cultivation grew from taichi, so Chiu Ya-tsai found refuge and release in reading. Chiu was born in Yi-lan, the east coast of Taiwan in 1949. A solitary figure and an underachiever in school, he began his mandatory military service at the age of fourteen and at the same time began to read. Starting with Chinese history and progressing to the classics of Western literature in translation, he was inspired by tales of heroes and subsequently began to write and paint. Chiu Ya-tsai・s paintings in oil on canvas belie the depth of his study of the period of Chinese painting history dating from the Han through the Tang dynasties (206 B.C. V 906 A.D.). The influence of the fourth- century court painter, Ku Kai-chih, is seen in Chiu・s emphasis on his subject・s eyes, and the continuous stroke used to delineate each figure is reminiscent of traditional Chinese figure painting. Chiu paints portraits of members of the intelligentsia, the literati in Taiwan, elegant androgynous-looking men and women with elongated, oval faces and shown seated or standing in partial profile. The bodies of the subjects are de-emphasized with dark clothing or fabrics rendered as flat pattern all against rich, dark backgrounds.  It is the faces of his men and women with their pronounced eyes and detached, indeterminate expressions that inexorably draw in the viewer. The subjects appear to be solitary, even melancholic, but controlled and self-possessed. They speak of stories untold and secrets unrevealed.

 Copyright © 2001 by Plum Blossoms Gallery, Ju Ming and Ch・iu Ya-tsai.  All rights reserved.