YANG NA & MU LEI - Two Trees New Work Show
Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei, Taiwan
18 December - 23 January, 2011
It’s easy to visualize what Yang Na has been dreaming. She makes wishes through her paintings. You can seem to identify what is in her mind everyday or in every phase of her growth. Even though many meaningful symbols appear in Yang Na’s paintings, such as fish, breasts, liquid and so on, we can still actually feel her sensibility as a female artist in real life. We can recognize the sensation, as we all experienced in our dreams before. You can easily distinguish her symbols from conventional symbolism, Yang Na’s artistic language between abstraction and embodiment has made her symbols more substantial while her painting structure has moved her works beyond reality at the same time. The conflict contained in her concepts and the language she uses is highly noticeable in her new series of work. It’s worth mentioning that she has grown as an artist and her impressions of reality and life are richer. This richness can be felt in each painting. I would like to refer Yang Na’s new series as an indus tree. The indus tree has strong vitality. Its luxuriant trunks and branches typify the multiple possibilities of life, just like Yang Na’s paintings of multi-level scenes growing in a dream. The fascinating part is that an indus tree is also a wish-making tree in folk culture. "Wish-making" is Yang Na’s creative state, she brushes her wishes on canvas, her paintings and the Indus tree are interlaced as an idea and real life.
The bodhi tree is a relative to the indus at first. The bodhi tree and indus tree are two different kinds of trees. Unlike the indus tree, the bodhi tree is a spiritual symbol. The indus tree is more mischievous, mysterious and transformed. In Mu Lei’s language system, he is always trying to free himself from the nest of formalization, and attempting to locate a concept system of his own, this is just like religion. Establishing an accomplished philosophy system is one of the purposes of religion. People often compare Mu Lei with Yang Na in discussion, and the public has lumped the two artists together. But the truth is that aside from some scattered similarities in their works, we can see that Yang Na’s artwork is sensible, soft and thoughtful, but Mu Lei’s artwork is tough, calm, contradictory and philosophical. After understanding those two different vibrations and concepts, I found two life force trees to describe their new works. I would like to distinguish their divergence and differences, even though they are interrelated in innumerable ways, their roots in art are from two different kinds of trees without any doubts. Even though it’s not their decision if they are in the same forest. Second, in Chinese, the first character in Indus is "Wu" and the second character in bodhi is "Ti", combined them together becomes "Wu-Ti", which means "No Title" in Chinese. This highlights the independence from each other and reveals the unknowable identity of their works. Of course it’s meaningless to talk about the independence from each other’s artworks, but as the "same species", they are still related to each other by using the same language and discussing topics about the ontology of art together, so their works could be homogeneous in a certain level but not their concept. Mu Lei’s new series are images; they are the extension from his paintings. These images are developed from Mu Lei’s rational meditation, he has demonstrated the rationale consistently through all his works. The post-economic crisis situation causes contemplation for the young generation of artists. From Mu Lei’s work, we can see an intense crush and the beauty after the ruin at the same time. This represents symptoms of anxiety. Expecting to interact with his audiences, Mu Lei has placed his images in daily life scenes, this immediately gives a layer of frightening mist to his art elements. From this point of view, artists do have social responsibility. It’s pleasing to see Mu Lei including controversial issues in his work, and the public responds to him sympathetically. Emphasizing ideas and focusing on reality make Mu Lei an ascetic monk. He has studied in depth the connection between the ontology of art and reality, and tried to connect a bridge between them in order to convey his concept completely. This is a deeper level of studying artistic methodology. From this point of view, Mu Lei has practiced under the bodhi tree of art until he has the deep understanding.