Yeh Shih-Chiang settled in Taiwan in 1949 after first visiting the island as an art student from Guangzhou. This was a time when many Taiwanese artists were coming into contact with Western Post-War modernism, which inspired them to embark on an intensive period of experimentation, seeking for a new language of Chinese ‘modernism’ with ink painting as its basis. Yeh Shih-Chiang was not interested in becoming simply a follower of new Western trends, and at the same time he also was averse to being trapped within the confines of the national “guohua” painting style. In a sense one could say he was avoiding the ideological impasse represented by the two sides of the Cold War. Ultimately he found his solution in a return to the pure and eternal realm of art, taking elements he found compelling from both modern and traditional languages as he developed his own painting practice. His strong, iconoclastic personality and his solitary nature fuelled his ability to break the rules and create his own artistic path. While he refused submitting to constraints of the academy system, he also rejected the art market and the bureaucracy of exhibitions. The intense singularity of Yeh Shih-Chiang’s art has won devoted followings among connoisseurs in the inner circles of the art world. His artistic practices highlight unresolved problems in China’s modern art historical discourse, in particular issues dealing with national culture and the modern nation-state, and the role of the artist under siege of ideologies (from either the left or the right). Yeh took China’s modern experiment into new trajectories, and one might go so far as to claim that his artistic position, developed over his years in China and Taiwan, challenges the mainstream art historical narrative based on modern nation-state discourse, particularly that of the post-War era, opening up a fruitful new ground for research.
Yeh Shih-Chiang: A Singular Life, 21 Apr 2016 — 04 Jun 2016
Hanart TZ Gallery, 2/F Mai On Industrial Building, 17-21 Kung Yip Street, Kwai Chung, Hong Kong