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Art from the Underground
by Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Location: Taipei Fine Arts Museum
Artist(s): TSONG Pu
Date: 22 May - 8 Aug 2010

Tsong Pu has been active on the Taiwanese art stage since the early 1980s, becoming one of the island's senior-generation contemporary artists of today. Soon after he was born in Shanghai in 1947, he and his family moved around before ultimately settling in Taiwan. In his early years, Tsong Pu exhibited boundless enthusiasm for the idealistic world of art, especially European and American Abstract Expressionism. Armed with new concepts and different media, Tsong Pu returned from Spain in 1983 to hold his solo exhibition A Meeting of Mind and Material at the Spring Gallery. His paintings for this exhibition were truly unprecedented, breaking with established rules of traditional painting, including perspective drawing, primacy of technique and fixed compositions. Simply put, Tsong Pu was not satisfied with these entrenched forms, and so, drawing inspiration from his immediate environment, he deployed his creativity and keen visual sensibility on an inexhaustible array of materials to explore new possibilities in painting.

In 1984, Tsong Pu was awarded the Taipei Fine Arts Museum sponsored Contemporary Art Trends in the R.O.C Exhibition. This significance of this award cannot be overstated, as it affirmed the excellence of avant-garde art, served as an index of progress for Taiwan's contemporary art world, and demonstrated that Tsong Pu's artistic evolution was closely aligned with that of the museum's. For a 1996 installation entitled You are the Beautiful Flower, Tsong Pu arranged sketches, canvasses painted with grid patterns, aluminum boards and ready-made objects, such as scissors, hammers, shovels, wrenches, stones and levels, on a large wall in the exhibition venue. The rich dialog which ensued positioned his grid patterns between painting and three-dimensional space, and presented his nomadic spirit in a process of seeking enlightenment from the common objects of everyday life.

Tsong Pu composes his abstract paintings using rational thinking, yet the work's expressive results are richly poetic and replete with progressive Utopian ideals. With his grids he expands the spiritual space of the exhibition venue, wandering between installation and painting, staying close to the patterns seen all around, and avoiding interference from concrete imagery at all costs. This prompts connections between viewers' abstract thinking and the artwork, and in this way establishes resonance. Since the 1980s, Tsong Pu has been developing his grid pattern painting style in works such as A Meeting of Mind and Material; Name and Warehouse; You Are the Beautiful Flower; Square White; Square Isn't Square, Circle Isn't Round, Time Doesn't Pass; and Thirteen Relativities between Two Squares in the Dark. The depth and breath of change in his work over the years is difficult to quantify, as he has indefatigably kept at his project of expanding the expressive potential of the grid, all the while deriving from it a boundless vitality. This exhibition includes over one hundred of Tsong Pu's works from each of his creative periods over the last thirty years, presenting a comprehensive account of the artist's visual language through sketches, paintings and installations from as early as 1978 to his most recent work.

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