Interpretation of Life Philosophy by Ping-Cheng Liang with Sculptures by Emerson Wang
Artist magazine 539 April 2020
Styling or form as the defining image of sculptures has been in place in art history for over ten centuries. However, this is increasingly blurry as contemporary artists continue to explore new paths and seek to steer away from classism. By balancing between shapes, sizes and structures, artists seek to skillfully express their styles, internal and external, in order to present a fully integrated layout. They want to instill life into works. Given the ingrained relation and, in fact, inseparability between spatial designs and abstract concepts,sculptors endeavor to create the tangible shapes and looks in the spatial scenarios beyond control. The best example is “Bird in Space” by the Romania/French sculptor Constantin Brancusi (1876~1957). The purity of shapes is pushed to the extreme. However, these works can only manifest the unique life they have been endowed in a thoroughly liberated space. The audience must view from 360-degree perspectives, to connect visual fragments into a complete image of sculptures in space. No single picture or angle can interpret the imagery of these artworks.
After abstractionism introduced new concepts, how does sculpture as an art differentiate itself in the contemporary vocabulary? The meaning of sculpturing is no longer singular. Many breakthroughs have been made in contemporary sculpture. Capacity and form alone can no longer define sculpture in a comprehensive manner. Since the 20th century, industrialism has taken the world by storm and this has sweeping effects on the way artists work, more so for sculptors and with painters. The measurement and presentation of steady objects in space are no longer the only way of sculpturing. In fact, tiny lines as if in painting walk through the skies become a way of sculpturing.
The British sculptor Henry Moore (1898~1986) created a new language in the world of sculpture, by making his works speak with the environment. Influenced by the ancient Indian stone sculptures in Mexico, Moore’s figures are prototypes, without any reference to a point in time or space. They arouse a sense of awe. The most important element of his works is the organic shapes, i.e. the texture of objects and the preservation of the raw materials. By boring mysterious holes and hollows, the bulky sculptures create a rhythmic sense of space.
The abstract sculpture by Barbara Hepworth (1903~1975) is closely related to nature. The flowing lines of her work are inspired by the long and winding coast lines and hills with ups and downs. Hepworth’s sculpture is irregular but warm and gentle. She liked to place her works in open spaces such as parks and forests. Even displayed indoors, Hepworth’s pieces were accompanied with pictures of greenery or parks on the walls. The holes and voids in her sculpture aim to divide the space into inside and outside, so that the audience can see it through and see the world through it. This is also a reflection of the selfhood of her work. The ancient Greek aesthetics are extended and manifested in the balance and harmony of Hepworth’s sculpture.
The U.S. sculptor David Smith (1906~1965)pushed the envelope of sculpturing by integrating industrial techniques and materials into the open space. He created the first nut-and-bolt soldered sculpture in the U.S. by cutting and assembling a complete array of stain sheets and cast metal pieces into an impactful psychological field. His work “Hudson River Landscape” in 1951is full of explosive vitality. The artist leaves behind the traditional “solidness” approach of sculpturing over the thousands of years by tossing up metal and steel, as if painting in the air.
The development of art gradually leads to new forms and structures in the context of time periods, the society and cultures. In addition to the application of Western theories, the artists in Taiwan develop their creative paths and concepts amid the diversity of local factors in the discourse of sculpture history and the process of creation. This includes the selection of materials and the philosophy of contents.
Ping-Cheng Liang’s first series of wooden sculpture “Gravity Release” is coming home to the fundamentals of media, by speaking with wood. From the grains to naturally grown curves, Liang gouges the wood, releases the gravity and reverses the mess. In the context of the social culture, the artist seeks to deconstruct and decentralize, consciously and unconsciously, by hiding into his works. “Book & Illegible Book” creates a floating and lightweight picture for wood and the image of Zen, flowing with oriental philosophy. It is beautifully balanced and in harmony. This series is the starting point of Liang’s invention of “inversion aesthetics”. By restoring and revisiting eating utensils throughout the history to their purity, “Utensil & Anti-Utensil” inspires reflections on the beauty in our daily life.
The development of “Mask” series brings Liang to the core of humanism. Agama Sutra says, “Fools do not practice pure deed, cannot sever ignorance, have endless cravings until their bodies wear out and die; then they are reincarnated in another body, trapped in the cycle of rebirth.” The mask is a symbol of the awareness and the desire to fight the body.“Angel's Heart”is the manifestation of the world view in the name of love and the compassion for all the four seas. “Whisper in Forest” is the extension of love for life to all the creatures. A fantasy of shapes symbolizes the openness of heart and the listening for the voice from many universes.
Sculpture is the way for the artist to practice his life philosophy.
Ping-Cheng LIANG 梁 平 正