Taiwan in Venice: Wu Tien-Chang: Never Say Goodbye. Taipei Fine Arts Museum at Venice Art Biennale 2015

As collateral event of the 56th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in Venice, Italy, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum of Taiwan presents a major solo exhibition by Taiwanese artist Wu Tien-chang. Entitled Never Say Goodbye, the exhibition at Palazzo delle Prigioni near Piazza San Marco features a newly commissioned video installation alongside photos and videos by the artist. This video provides you with ambient shots of the opening of Wu Tien-chang’s exhibition on 7 May 2015. We also filmed a conversation between Wu Tien-chang and the Director of Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Ms. Ping Lin.

Wu Tien-chang: Never Say Goodbye. Collateral Event of the 56th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia presented by Taipei Fine Arts Museum of Taiwan. Opening, May 7, 2015.

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From the press release:

Located at Palazzo delle Prigioni, a former prison inside the Palazzo Ducale, ‘WU Tien-chang: Never Say Goodbye’ will explore the atmosphere and particular sentiments of westernization in the post-war era of Taiwan, whilst also responding to shifts in the historical regime over the past century. The new video installation Farewell, Spring and Autumn Pavilions will feature a haunting character wrapped in sensual and seductive latex skin which are both striking in colour and dark in their ghost-like fictitious nature. The resulting work will depict haunting scenes, imbedded in Wu’s interests in photographic theories, Taiwan’s complex history and culture and the history of the site itself. Apart from the video piece, a series of dramatic staged photographs will suggest memories and nostalgia embedded within everyone – reflecting the lingering presences in the prison who are reluctant to leave as they are torn between love and hate for the mortal realm.

Ms. Fang Mei-ching, Chief Curator of Taipei Fine Arts Museum said, “At the show, Wu uses the flamboyant and kitsch appearances of the ghostly figures on his photography works and video installation as disguises of charm to confide in the past pains that cannot be shouldered by the individual or the entire nation. On one hand, the intricate history of post-war Taiwan is revealed, and on the other hand the romantic aspiration for the future is projected. These seemingly parallel and opposing lines have struck a balance on a perfect crossing point at the presentation, by establishing a memorable dialogue within the exhibition space and venue.”
Born in Changhua, Taiwan in 1956, and spending most of his time in Keelung, Wu Tien-chang is renowned for his oil paintings and digital photography which comments on the socio-political aspect of life. Wu’s work reveals the contradictions of the photographic medium, with its apparent reality, yet often contrived and fictitious nature. Since 2000, he began incorporating digital retouching and image-collaged techniques in his staged photography – painting backdrops, scripting, lighting, photography, making props, and directing models by himself in order to integrate the various conflicting elements into something unique and captivating. He currently lives and works in Taipei, Taiwan and has featured in major exhibitions internationally, including the Soho Photo Gallery, New York (2010); the Hong Kong Art Centre, Hong Kong (2010); Eslite Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan (2010); Art Beijing, Beijing, China (2009); the National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China (2009); the Taipei Cultural Center, New York (2008) and MOMA Contemporary, Fukuoka, Japan (1997).

Taipei Fine Arts Museum has organized the presentation of the artists from Taiwan at the Venice Biennale since 1995. Yet, ‘WU Tien-chang: Never Say Goodbye’ is the first solo show determined by a selection committee and held by TFAM.

Taiwan’s first museum of modern and contemporary art, Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM) was officially opened to the public on December 24, 1983. Located in Taipei, the museum occupies over 20,000 square meters of space, of which 11,741 square meters are devoted to exhibition. The inception of the TFAM was a response to appeal for the budding movement of modern art in Taiwan. TFAM has dedicated to the development of modern art in Taiwan over the past few years while staying abreast of ongoing trends in contemporary art.
In order to engage with contemporary art stages, TFAM has started hosting Taipei Biennial since 1998, and inviting internationally-renowned curators and artists to cooperate with the local artistic circle. The shows held over the past decade have both increased the visibility of Taiwan and expanded the global networks on the world stage.
Since its inception, TFAM has not only been a platform for exhibiting artworks from Taiwan and overseas, it has also been an initiator of exchange between Taiwanese and international art worlds. Through collaborative exhibitions, TFAM has been able to establish a dialogue with a global audience.

Wu Tien-chang was born in Taiwan in 1956. The artist graduated from the Fine Arts Department of Chinese Culture University in 1980. In the 80s, Wu used signs, symbols and narratives and combined them with his own interpretation of history to reexamine society, history and politics with two-dimensional paintings. He was seen as a pioneer that broke taboos after the lifting of martial law in Taiwan. In the 90s, he switched to the medium of photography, using mixed media such as shiny velvet cloth, sequins and Christmas lights to create photographic series demonstrating the “TaiKe” (local Taiwanese) aesthetic style.

In early 2000, impressed by the precision, neatness and plastic visual associations of computer images, he started to study and apply digital alteration and compositing techniques. He painted the sets, wrote the scripts, directed the lighting and photography, created props and directed the acting of costumed models, so that the conflicting elements fuse into a chilling and opulent visual style through “staged photography”. Since 2010, he has once again challenged himself, integrating moving images and theatrical space and creating interactive installations featuring a set created with handmade craftsmanship. Through techniques such as one-take shooting, skip frames and high-speed filming, he evokes an uncanny atmosphere through bizarre-looking bodies and an ornamental visual style.

Tien-chang Wu has held several solo exhibitions and participated in numerous group exhibitions. His works have been shown at biennials in Taiwan (2008, 2014), Taipei (1994, 1996 and 1998) and Venice (1997), at the Fukuoka (1999) and Asia-Pacific Triennials (1996, 1999), at the Centre des arts d’Enghien-les-Bains in France (2007), the K-18 Mutual Acknowledgement Exhibition, Kassel (1992), the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei (2014), the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, the National Art Museum of China (2009), the Taipei Cultural Center, New York (2008), Art Hong Kong, Art Beijing and Art Shanghai (2008 and 2011), international photo festivals in Pingyao in Shanxi province, Guangzhou and Hong Kong (2004, 2007 and 2008), and at the “Contemporary Chinese Photography” exhibition in Prague (2003). Received the New Trend Prize of Contemporary Art Trends (1986) awarded by the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, First Prize of the Taipei Biennial of Contemporary Art (1994), the Creation Award of Li Chung-Shun Foundation (1998) and the Jury’s Special Award of the 7th Taishin Arts Awards (2009).

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