Transforming after Object — Tsai Wei Cheng Sculpture Exhibition for 2018
Article by Woan-Jen Hsu
The 2018 exhibition “Transforming after Object” primarily exhibits a total of 7 new sculptures by Tsai Wei Cheng, including “Millennium”, “Infuriating”, “Daylight”, “Strong Wind”, “Fragrance of A Flower”, “Guts”, and “Couldn’t Give Up”. As an artist who creates with the Orient at heart, Tsai Wei Cheng adheres to the creative thinking of the Oriental art. The new collection continues his established inspiration for “Journey to the West,” the 72 Transformations of Sun Wukong series; Therefore, the collection still keeps the identifiable features of Sun Wukong’s appearance, in particular, the tightening-crown on the head and the golden-banded staff in hand. However, compared to his previous collection, obvious changes have occurred in terms of the art language spoken by the creations of Tsai Wei Cheng for this exhibition.
The “Divertimento for Journey to the West” collection by Tsai Wei Cheng exhibited in La Biennale di Venezia 2017 were endowed with the essence of purity after stripping off all the impurities attached. The smooth texture of the sculptures and the bright single tint brings out their round loveliness as if they were enjoying the tiny little happiness in a world rotating around themselves. If we take the “Divertimento for Journey to the West” as the newborn purity, then the new collection for 2018 “Transforming after Object” shall be seen as children slightly grown to an age of approximately 3 or 4, who start to become curious about the external world and set foot on the path to explore the world of their existence. Through his work, Tsai Wei Cheng built the connection between the internal self and the external world that mutually affect each other, demonstrating his profound understanding of “the existence of human shall be intertwined with things instead of being isolated.” Skipping the polish procedure for decoration, the new collection for the exhibition “Transforming after Object” keeps the hand-made traces since its creation, together with the pigment covered externally and the clot formed during the piling and shaping procedure of soil materials, which further shows the unevenness and coarse surface, and creates the sense of swiftness. Just like the flowing sands spreading in the infinite universe throughout time, it has gathered and formed its shape at a specific spot for a special cause, exacting a spur of a miracle for artwork to build its shape and last for an eternity.
The exhibition name “Transforming after Object” originates from “Correspondence to the Object,” replacing the “correspondence” with “transforming”, reflecting the pursuit of connecting internal and external self that Tsai Wei Cheng intended to express through his new collection. The pursuit of “Spirit Resonance” for Oriental art is generally viewed as the different from definitions of art for the West. The earliest art theory in China can be traced back to the time of Wei and Jin Dynasties, single pieces such as Gu Kaizhi’s “Painting Theory” from Eastern Jin Dynasty, and Zhong Bing’s “Preface of Painting Landscape” from the Southern Dynasties, which were included in historical compilations, to the more systematic and specific writings for art theory emerging in Southern Qi Liang Dynasty; that is, “The Record of Ancient Painting Appreciation” written by Xie He focusing on the judging of paintings by 27 chosen painters. The chapter “Painting Appreciation” in “The Record of Ancient Painting Appreciation” uses the “Six Points” to lay out the standards and requirements for art in detail:
“What are the Six Points? First, spirit resonance; second, bone method; third, correspondence to the object; fourth, suitability to type; fifth, division and planning; six, transmission by copying”
(the original piece by Xie He was without punctuation. This article adopted the punctuation used in “Limited Views: Essays on Ideas and Letters” by Qian Zhongshu).
Out of the Six Points by Xie He, the third “Correspondence to the Object” points out the value of accuracy, which explains the importance of “Object” in artwork that it shall correspond to the target object it depicts with a truthful depiction of the shape and form of the target object. Moreover, we may extend the thinking model in accordance with the word of Seng Zhao from Eastern Jin Dynasty, “Dhamarkaya has no form, and it corresponds to the object.” Dhamarkaya of Buddha does not attach to a specific solid form; its form corresponds to the diverse objects in the environment. If we elaborate “Correspondence to the Object” with this speculation, artists and their artworks shall not be too rigid to any specific form of demonstration, as the formation of art shall vary from the target object. As such, the emphasis discussed in“Correspondence to the Object” is that the demonstration of artworks is subject to the subjective form of the target object. As for the exhibition “Transforming after Object,” it further emphasizes the subjective aspect of the target object while simultaneously includes the objective aspect from creator’s own self; more specifically, “Transforming after Object” focuses on the human existence within the environment altogether, and the subject and object are mutually involved, connected and intertwined to each other.
Tsai Wei Cheng imagined himself transformed into multiple forms of Sun Wukong, conveying the connection between the inner and outer self. The involvement and blending in between subject and object were mainly displayed in the artwork through 2 stages:
one is “Thoughts Follow Heart,” while the other is “Forms Follow Thoughts.”
First“Thoughts Follow Heart” means that thoughts may change according to where the heart goes. The communication between the inner and outer self, the connection between subject and object and the external objective environment that triggers the ups and downs of the internal subjective heart; the thoughts may have changed thousands of times in a flash once the thought is changed. Then, “Forms Follow Thoughts” means that the form transforms according to thoughts. While thought changes, whether in the event of the expression being lit up with delight or outward appearance springs from our heart, the expression, figure and posture may vary under an imperceptible influence. Taking influences from outside-in and making differences from inside-out, the objective world triggers the subjective heart thus springing out the effect through transforming the form and appearances.
The new collection in the exhibition“Transforming after Object” shows: The sense of delight resulting from the fall of “Daylight” and the smell of“Fragrance of A Flower” trigger the blooming of warm smiles. The impact of “Strong Wind” and the“Infuriating” torture arising from irrational trials give rise to the toughness that leads to chill and calm. At last, the struggle between giving up and “Couldn’t Give Up” is exactly the training of the bravery of “Guts” to follow the heart and be free and at ease.
Tsai Wei Cheng’s Sun Wukong in exhibition “Transforming after Object” has gone through practices of a “Millennium,” and therefore is close to all the usual and the ordinary; when facing the ups and downs of life, it travels back and forth between the inner and outer world of subjects and objects, and willingly follows the course of life and transforms its form with 72 Transformation accordingly. Sun Wukong, in this case, can be Tsai Wei Cheng, you, and us; it can be what we expect ourselves to be, transforming after object while still keeping up our natural ease at all times.