Finding a place for hosting for a better obstinacy
CansART News No.76 May/2011
by Cheng Nai-Ming 鄭乃銘
Ping-Cheng Liang Solo ExhibitionInSian Gallery
If summer would return to the mountain and if God allows us to meet once again, so let the fern leaves become green. Green again to let the stream flow and years be like jade again. At that time nothing hasyet happened, no sign is yet implied for anything. The remote early morning is a less inked sketch. You merge from the dark gray crowd castingon me a timid smile. If I had known that I couldn’t forget you, I would have been more careful and have tried my best to carve thatold summer day, deeply and slowly carving out a sophisticated and exquisite copperplate. Every nick would have been cherished, if I had known that I couldn’t forget it all my life.
Etching by Xi Murong, 1978
For six years, or 2,100+ days, this man has always been loyal to his decision.
Maybe this exhibition might have taken place at an earlier time. However, the Gallery has a high expectation of LiangPing-Chengand feels that he will be better than better. This explains why the exhibition has been planned and prepared prudently without anexhibition period fixed in the first place. After Lichun,February 4,the beginning of spring in East Asian cultures, the Gallery advised him: It is the time. Please come and show your exhibits. This may soundeasy, simple and plain, but this man has been waiting for it for 2,190 days, or as long as he lives, to be true to his heart. Just to havehis dreams realized.
During the past six years, legendaryartworks that Liang has completed with his burins are by no means merely what we see here in the well-lit exhibition hall. A whiff of indescribable commotioncan be felt among the carefully selected exhibitsdisplayed in arrangements with interesting charm, and such commotion seems to have confirmed once again Liang’s less explored inner personality. Once inside the exhibition hall, with eyes taking in legends created by Liang, one may unwittingly think of the “Etching,” a Chinese free verse, written by Xi Murong years ago. The obstinacy depicted in Xi’sverse is indeed similar to Liang’s attitude towards art, capriciousyet bigoted, resolute but glancing behind, with tenderness in his heart of hearts longing for comfort and unwillingly blunt white feather.Existing exclusively in the innermost, such commotion is also one of the many messages revealed in Liang’stremendous solo exhibition this time.
Alumprecipitates contaminantswhile burins depict all the days passed
I asked Liang,“I’ve been wondering whether the days you experienced in the past have contributed the most to your art?” He gave a straightforward answer, “Definitely. Though I’ve never admitted it to others, what I’ve gone through, to certainpsychological extent, has daunted me to get along with other people. It would be difficult to give explicit explanation of such fear from my heart. It seems to be kind of uneasiness of deep fear to come into contact with others. That was why I felt rejoiced when I got my wife's support to goto Sanyi and concentrated on the wood sculpture that I loved. I was grateful that it was the wood I would be face to face with rather than the people as in the past.” What Liang has said can be verified by artworks in the “Mask”Series exhibited this time. When Liang first thought of depicting masksin his creations, the search for reference material was tiring and demanding. The various mask patterns he reviewed during that period were just overwhelming. But the more he perused, the more depressed he became.All the masks with different purposes, stories and facial expressions in front of him looked as if disguises to obscure the true innermost self so that people wearing a mask would be able to put before the public the appearance they chose. Such maskswere utterly not what he wanted.It was becauseLiangdiscovered that the subject he wanted to present,strictly speaking, was not masks to be worn in specific events as defined by the traditional society. To Liang, what he really cared about was man’sreal form or appearance. However, the real form or appearance in Buddhismrefers to nullity or formless. Such a concept was wonderfully interpreted by Liang in his “Mask”Series. In artworksof this series, boring-throughapproach was employed in most of the masks he dealt with except for one in which digging-out was used. With either methods used, depiction of facial features and emotional state on this small woodblock was completely ignored to present a delicately pruned bare surface with a slightly thick layer of gold lacquerapplied making it attractive to viewers’ eyes by breaking away from a mono color scheme. However, in terms of Liang’s representations of the “Mask”Series, I would like to indicate a few points worth pondering about. On the one hand, he adopted the formlessness-being-the-real-form approach when treating the face; on the other hand, when depicting the countenance, he did not deliberately make any reference to specific life forms but added wings to them.As Liang put it, “I like to add wings very much. For me, wings stand for infinite imagination.” Based on Liang’s statement, wings represent extensions of different imaginations, but a closer look at the way Liang treated the wingsshows that the wings in Liang’s creations are not open but folded, whichrevealsthat extremely conflicting contradictions may exist all the way whenLiang deals with psyche and mental folding. For one thing, he longsfor wings to fly high with and evade certain impacts; for another, he tidies up the wingscarefully, which seems to silently disclosehis worries of being trapped by real lifeplus perplexities yetto let go.
Allow me to elucidate it further. For one thing, stimulated by life experiences, Liang has had hesitating psychological distance from people,in particular,those with certain social roles.Since these people tend to wear masks, the lack of real form and appearance would arouse misgivings.When he transforms such psychological thought into art representations, although forms and appearances are restored to originals to realize true mind and to see true self by completely removing roles of social masks, Liang still has commotion in his mindaspiring for being able to fly away at any time. Now that formlessness is in essence the release from one’s innermost, orbeing impediment-free, why should there be a pair of wings for escape? Further deliberation makes me to think that the approach of giving up the five sense organs, seven passions and six sensorypleasureswhich portray life forms to present a formless perspective as clear as a mirror while folded wings are also there getting ready for flight. All such more or less hint at struggles, fights and confrontations in Liang’s mind. The implicit information contained in the artworks particularly allows us to detect the artist’s attempts and efforts toput emotions to his tranquil innermost. It always seems to me that when creating this series Liang duly exercised exquisite self-reflection and self-examination to deal with the contradiction complex in his innermost but not to an exaggerated extent, exhibiting a psyche snapshot very much to the point and elevating the series to a level worth rumination.
Books bound in a flurried manner turned out to be mosses on youth
Traces of the commotionin Liang’s innermosthidden behind the passing years have been best manifested in his “Book & Illegible Book” Series. In his wood sculpture creation, Liang has never yielded himself to the confinement set by concepts of realism when depicting the subjects. Liang has strived forform deconstruction in both “Book & Illegible Book” and “Utensil & Anti-Utensil”Series, andsuch an intention to ease restrictions onformshas allowed creative representations of more freedom. But breaking away from reification in realism does not mean to practice “laissez-faire” in art creation.On the contrary, I have noticed from Liang’s sculptural artworks an accesshe took from real objects to accomplish deconstruction of forms with his personal interpretation of such objects taken in by eyes.Once the frame is removed, embodiment of his idea to shapes and practical functions of the subjects would become possible, and thus unique sculptural artlanguage of his own can be presented. Among all Liang’s creations, artworks in the “Book & Illegible Book” Series can be considered the ones best allow viewers to first appreciate with their sense of vision followed by hearing the minute rustling sounds flapped about by the wind with bated breath. Such satisfaction to the sense of vision and hearing have been fully manifested particularly by this series.
Liang knows it very well that it would be difficult to make the artworks thin and transparent with the medium he has chosen because of inherent restrictions by weight and color sensation of wood. This explains why Liang depicts books taking forms of open-book leaves. Lift-up book leavesnot only take away the heaviness but bring in better readability to the vision.
In Liang’sartworks of “Book & Illegible Book” Series, there exist serious themes worth further discussion. Firstly, as a nature-loving artist,Liang, no matter in Sanyi in the past or currently in northern Taiwan, has always established his workplace close to nature, lending him opportunities to grow the habit of learning from the natural world. To Liang, nature is like anopened-up bookwhich treats the multitudes impartially but takes an inactive role. In other words, the multitudes,in particular those with self-consciousness,shall look at the book leaves and meditate on their own. Based on life experience to express his thoughts and emotions,Liang has found an unusual but appropriate cut-in for these creations. Secondly, the material of book leaves comes from trees. Trees, after chemical transformation that changes the nature thereof, continue to serve the multitudesin a different form of life. The key lies in that it is knowledge brought about to humans by such changes making treesto become the largest knowledgeplatform. Actuality and spiritual deepening linked up with all the above and would be something of interest.
When working on workpieces of this series, Liang skillfully manipulates color and luster of wood to create a classical atmosphere forthe artworks to be presented in front of viewers.It seems to be a giant book rendered by nature to the multitudes, passing down from early generations, with yellowing leaves and creased corners, unlike those in an unread book, firm, fresh and crisp.Books from nature brought to us by Liang at the moment are like the ones in the ancient time, bound together leaf by leaf,old and beaten by temperaturesand humidity from the environment and hand perspiration whenflipping through plus reading notes from various readers. Closely interlocked and inseparable with one another, what these books have experienced makes it difficult to resume the books to their original neat and fresh state.However, perhaps traces left by time and the multitudeswould contrarily highlight the vicissitudes of life and undeprivable self-esteem.To ponder it further, one may discover that it is the annual ring that we use to determine the age of a tree while a tree shall go through years of weather before becoming the material for papermaking. Isn’t it the same as what it takes for the multitudes to accumulate knowledge?It also takes time to accomplish. In selecting material for wood sculpture, Liang not only chooses what to be used for art creation but spends efforts in exploring possibilities for infinite imagination.Maybe it is such efforts that allow him to go beyond the artin his wood sculpture and make known his attitudes towards the material usedas well as communication conveyed by the material, which createsmore space for dialogues. Hadhe not experienced significant ups and downs in his life, Liang would not have learned to hold a humble and restraining state of mind in front of nature and would nothave sensitivity to feel the infinity of life.
Vicissitudes passed may become retrospect
In elaborating his artistic context, Liang has always maintained independent of traditionalstereotyped interpretation of wood sculpture art. He has tried to convey his concept through his sculpture (in both woodcarving androlled-over stainless steel) art. In creations of “Utensil & Anti-Utensil”Series, utensils are no longer in their traditional real forms, while the representation of “living beings” by the forms of objects is by no means reckless. When selecting subjects to portray, Liang tendsto find something expandable or imaginablein nature or day-to-day lives, perhaps based onseeds of a plant or a real-life social phenomenon from his observation. Once inspired, Liang will first let go the form of the subject, a “letting-out” process,followed by manifestation of poise and charmthrough “drawing-in.”
Theapproach adopted by Liang in shaping of “Utensil & Anti-Utensil”Series is to explore the spirit of impermanence and metamorphose, which,in fact, is a spirit running through all his creations. I am personally fond of the way through which Liang treats these creations. After transformation of the subject, the principle of “void” has been employed for shaping appeal, because the “void” breaks the heaviness of wood and allows the sense of sight of possibilities of penetration and connection.
For example, in artworks of “Platinum Triangle Fertile Land” and “Fe-Po,”one may discover how Liang removesheaviness from the wood. The former looks like a piece of roasted marshmallow with a stretchedform that attracts one’s eyesight instantly, while the latter looks like a mythological beast letting out fangs and claws.Both work to the best of his ability of interpreting the materials.Furthermore, Liang has brought “Utensil & Anti-Utensil”Series toa level with representations reflectinghis personal thought.First is to liberate existing forms of the objects and to construct a place for hosting his ideal after his mind being frustrated by the reality. That is why the “living beings” formed by Liang’s carving tools are virtual creatures, not human, not objects, but showing strong vitality.Digging-out, Liang’sapproach in dealing withthe formsof“Utensil & Anti-Utensil”Series, is in particularclose to his personal experience after going through unwelcome turns of events in the past. Seen on these “living things” are recessed round holes similar to those in ancient helmet and armor and repetitive ripples, whichare used to enhance self-expectations in attention training.A flat surfaceisgenerallyconsidered more vulnerable to impacts for the lack of rigidness to take up stress. A surface with dents, on the other hand, would relatively sustainhigherexternal force. When working on such details, for one thing, Liang would like to highlight the richness of the material in use, on the other hand, his personal experience of being hollowed-out in the past has enlightened him that once hollowed-out there will be more room to accept and take in more, and he has realized how to cherish what he has. Liang, with such spiritual blessing, fully demonstrates his determination from his original nature to self-confidence, which also allowsartworksof unrestricted imagination. I always feel that when one knows how to accept, he will be able to take in. The oneswho can take in are those know what to part with, and the nature of life will then be enriched.軌。而我總覺得，當一個人懂得能容；也就能納，能納；也就願捨，生命的體質也因此才能夠變得愈加豐足。.
Ping-Cheng LIANG 梁 平 正