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Nature Makes It

Women’s Contemporary Gaze

Exhibition Date: 2022.08.13 – 09.18
Curator: Jingxin Zhong
Artists: Beverly Barkat, Jun T. Lai, Weiying Xu, Nianci Chen
Venue: Elephant Art Space Museum | 404 No. 15, Boguan Road, North District, Taichung City
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In the art world, just as in the macro society as a whole, a slow rebalancing continues, a change we can see from this year (2022) at the 59th Venice Biennale (Venice Biennale) “The Milk of Dreams” ( The Milk of Dreams) featured 213 artists, 191 of whom were women (or gender neutral), the first time in the Biennale’s 127-year history that more than 80 percent of participating artists were women, causing considerable controversy Concern; curator Cecilia Alemani said in an interview that “even though this is largely due to the feminist struggle, it’s basically through their impact on society as a whole, because Ultimately, it is the pressure of mainstream opinion that makes the change happen,” the curator emphasizes, not women, but artists.

In the era of the epidemic, “Nature Makes It – Women’s Contemporary Gaze” exhibited at the Elephant Art Space Museum, in addition to reflecting on man and nature, echoes “Love and Hope” hosted by the “Taiwan Women’s Art Association” in Taitung 》The 2022 World Women’s Arts Convergence Art Festival will make a parallel voice in Central Taiwan, expecting to connect and expand the interactive inspiration brought by women’s consciousness and movements in art history, so as to generate artistic energy that can flow; it also corresponds to the opening of the Venice Biennale issues; as in C. Alemani said, “Gender is not the point, but unfortunately we are still far from equality, especially art should represent the world we live in…”.

New Horizons

The exhibition “Nature Made It – Women’s Contemporary Gaze” does not confine women’s art to a trendy or politically correct intention, but instead highlights a state of social transformation, bringing contemporary women’s art to the fore where viewers can discuss. As a contemporary vision of female art creators viewed from different perspectives, an external and private space is constructed. The exhibition and the messages transmitted through the works of art potentially provide a path to find the traces of creation. This exhibition condenses the dialogue between works of artists such as Jun T. Lai, Beverly Barkat, Nianci Chen , Weiying Xu , etc. and extends their respective creative contexts; they all have unique creative vocabulary for media and are good at using painting techniques to create In its presentation, multiple groups of works of different media and forms are exhibited. The exhibition uses the artist’s creative energy and unique expressive force to remove the stereotyped female image and present the creative issue of inner landscapes, and to connect women of different generations through their works and the creative issues. The co-interpretation and interpretation of the creative techniques make up this special exhibition.

In response to this theme, the artist Jun T. Lai exhibited six series of bamboo paper paintings in the 1990s; the substrate of the works is rice paper made of Taiwan osmanthus bamboo, which has the local terroir and grass roots, and has a poetic and warm feeling. It originated from 1989 to 1992. During the years, the series of returning to the oriental aesthetics started from “Walking Clouds and Flowing Water”. The pictures adopt the style of space collage, combining the traditional scroll and hand scroll forms of Chinese painting and calligraphy, but not bound by the norms of style structure, she focuses on the horizontal and vertical spatiality, Not limited to the illusion of real perspective, explore the spatial problem of painting and expand to infinity at the edge of the picture, forming a mood of silent and forgetful with nature, and keep a record of such dialogue; The dialectics of mutual generation and mutual restraint, the relationship between form and form, as well as “I and not-I” are transformed into existence in silent illumination. During this period, Jun T. Lai had a new understanding and introspection in painting, music, poetry and other oriental aesthetics, and the creative transformation presented was a combination of water-based media and multi-media paintings, which fully reflected calligraphic lines and abstract shapes in the paintings. The fusion of above can not only be regarded as the artist’s new exploration of the subject of space transformation in form, but for Jun T. Lai so far, the energy of Eastern and Western cultures can flow and transform freely, and what remains unchanged is the relationship between man and nature and the beautiful experience of life. Desire, rather than the pursuit of a state of spiritual freedom.

Israeli artist Beverly. Beverly Barkat, whose works not only explore the changes in the quality, energy and dynamics of all things in the universe, but also inquire about the relationship with others and everything around them. How to interpret the energy and movement of the body is the painting language she wants to convey. Extends to the relationship between aesthetics and politics and future social cohesion. In recent years, she reflects on the urgent issues of the Anthropocene and the Covid-19 crisis, hoping to “break the gap between man and nature, thereby changing people’s cognition or habits”, trying to integrate different energies to reduce conflicts and disputes in the environment. In this exhibition, her large-scale sketches and oil paintings are used to interpret life feelings, the quality dynamics of the rhythm of nature, and the understanding of her own life experience with abstract vocabulary. When the gaze of the other can convert the specific rhythm in the painting into emotion, it is related to the pulsation and continuity of time, the pigments are woven into the painting layer by layer through the brush strokes by the oily medium, interpreting the unfinished and continuous state , the poetry of his works has energy, movement and continuity, the relationship between nature and matter, which means that the potential power of accumulating, connecting and storing energy has transformed various experiences in the past, explored the unknown and opened the way to the future. imaginary doorway.

Diving in Hualien for more than ten years, artist Nianci Chen’s mood shift can be felt when reading her works. Her ink works from 2011 illustrate the profound influence of Hualien’s landscape and nature on her. The series of “Inner Space” and “Walking” exhibited in this exhibition focus on obtaining healing energy through dialogue with nature, as well as dealing with hidden private inner experience and understanding, which can be regarded as the author’s inner and outer For example, the works also have the meaning of being inside and outside each other. The work conveys the intangible Zen meaning with the breathing and breathing of the lines, possessing an extremely subtle emotion and power. The shapes of the light and circle in the picture, in the process of repetition (répétition), almost ritual emotional method through brush and ink. It allows the viewer to return to the quiet and inner world, and at the same time connects the artist’s life state that is almost spiritual. She expresses her inner abstract emotions through ink and wash, describing it as a seemingly microscopic but macroscopic intuitive state, flowing and quiet. The energy coexists at the same time, and the painting is connected with it under the extension of time, which shows the most real emotions in life. Art historian Wu Chaoran wrote an article commenting on his works: “A line can just describe the shape, or the pen can walk on the paper. There are traces of her past, but looking back on the life course she has gone through, this is a process of self-validation and refinement, which gives the lines a sense of life on the screen. In this regard, even if Youyou lives in seclusion in Ji’an Township in the back mountain , her works not only cross the barriers between classical and contemporary, but also stand proudly in the contemporary Chinese ink painting world.”

Weiying Xu exhibited “Check into” series creations, the artist said: “After I have a smartphone and Wi-Fi, the Internet and social media have become the main tools for me to understand the world. These tools can always create a kind of zero between the individual and the world. Psychologically, the feeling of jet lag is as if even the distance is extremely compressed. Can this feeling of “the end of the world be close at hand” lead people to increase their “empathy” for others? “She uses the keyword “Check into”: using a smart mobile vehicle, she shows her actual or fictitious location on online social media, and the location of the check-in appears in news media reports all over the world. Where the people who were forced to “exit” have been or have been present, the people in the original event are replaced by the main characters of paintings wearing vehicles to participate in this “scenario” that was left behind. As Susan Sontag’s book “Watching the Pain of Others” not only re-examines the history of human warfare from the perspective of “war photography”, but also makes us rethink the use and meaning of images, and more directly The nature of war, the limits of compassion, and the duty of conscience. When Weiying Xu’s works present the heaviness of distant events in a dreamy and light manner through silk, the main content of the works is not entirely reproducing emotional activities, but attempts to observe, question and think about these emotional activities.

What this exhibition touches through women’s contemporary gaze is not limited to the quality and energy emitted by the works, but also reflects the reconsideration of the way of dealing with nature under the influence of the Anthropocene, and the gradually changed views due to the experience of the epidemic. Here we can With new eyes, gaze at a new way of looking at nature and ourselves, and rediscover the multiple possibilities of change and transformation.


Text / Huilan Zhang / Full-time Associate Professor, Department of Fine Arts, Tunghai University

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