CHUANG CHE & DONG SHAW-HWEI: Seeing through Modern and Contemporary Taiwanese Art

Booth | Insights 1B36

Artist | Chuang Che, Dong Shaw-Hwei

Venue | Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center (1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong)

Online Viewing Room | (Please register on to access the Online Viewing Rooms.)

Private View |
March 21 (Tues)  12:00 – 20:00
March 22 (Wed) 12:00 – 17:00
March 23 (Thurs) 12:00 – 14:00
March 24 (Fri) 12:00 – 14:00
March 25 (Sat) 11:00 – 12:00

Vernissage |
March 22 (Wed) 17:00 – 21:00

General Show Hours | 
March 23 (Thurs) 14:00 – 20:00
March 24 (Fri) 14:00 – 20:00
March 25 (Sat) 12:00 – 18:00

Asia Art Center is honored to present a two-person show of iconic Taiwanese artists, Chuang Che (b.1934) and Dong Shaw-hwei (b.1962), at the Art Basel in Hong Kong in 2023. With the theme “Seeing through Modern and Contemporary Taiwanese Art,” the exhibition aims to explore the ways the artists used art to reflect cultural connotations and subjective thoughts in different historical contexts, leading to the construction of profound landscapes of art.

Since World War II, Taiwanese art has become a unique cultural vista in the history of modern and contemporary art. From a macro perspective, Taiwan has endured zeitgeist changes that have prompted shifts of subjectivity between Eastern and Western cultural trends, political ideologies, and post-colonial/globalization contexts. From a micro perspective, Taiwanese trajectories of diaspora, education and upbringing, gender roles, and individual life experiences have also resulted in diverse aesthetic sentiments and artistic spirits. These artists have continuously innovated and experimented throughout history, with aesthetic concepts and artistic paradigms prompted by cultural inheritance and transformation, and in two-dimensional or even three-dimensional spaces of practice, they have left behind symbolic imprints with historical significance.

Chuang Che rose to prominence in Taiwan’s art scene in the 1950s, when society was overwhelmed with a collective anxiety over national identity and epochal position. It was during this time when international views and aesthetic trends were introduced to Taiwan from Europe and the United States, as referenced in the reformist movement, which was initiated by elites. Modern art societies such as the Fifth Moon Group and the Ton Fan Group began to emerge, with ambitious young creatives who were liberated from the elusive Chinese landscape traditions by Western abstract art and began to express their cultural memories and Chinese Taoist and Zen Buddhist philosophies through avant-garde art forms. Employing Western painting techniques and experimenting with art media, the artists began to convey Asian sentiments of great nature through the configuration of perspectives, color application, light and shadow rendering, and arrangement of space and shapes, thereby developing the foundation for Eastern abstract art.

Dong Shaw-hwei represents the Taiwanese artistic development from the 1980s to 1990s, when society was undergoing a rapid process of modernization and economic development. Exhausted by superficial materialism and cultural homogenization under globalization, she began to profoundly explore inner spirituality and convey unique sentiments. Early in her career, she studied the style of impressionism, and learned how to express the shadows and color from western paintings. She developed herself to the analysis of the Zhuangzi’s (ca. 369-286 B.C.) philosophical thoughts and aesthetics when she studied in graduate school. The thesis was published as the book Aesthetic Significance as Seen in Zhuangzi. Dong gradually started refining and adding depth to her painting style, and also begun a process of self-realization through uniting her life and her art. Since the late 1990s, she created her unique style with the “Still Life of Black Table Series”, as well as the “Courtyard in Black and White Series.” Dong restructured the common space in daily life on her paintings with many plants, wooden tables and chairs. The usage of automatic painting techniques from abstract art enabled her to craft a random flowing effect of ambient lights and shadows, constructing a three-dimensional mental landscape from a two-dimensional canvas. The artist’s recognizable “Courtyard Series” has its origins in the changes affecting her in her personal living environment. Starting with a Western concrete still-life based on visual perception, Dong gradually moved on to a style based on the emotions within Chinese culture. Dong’s paintings exude qualities that are innately calm and gentle, and her work holds great zeitgeist significance for the aesthetic experiences that are culturally inherited.

Chuang Che and Dong Shaw-hwei represent a specific epoch in the complex 20th century modern history of Taiwan, with unique cultural aesthetics demonstrated by the artists in the face of a restlessly shifting world, making them an essential part of the history of modern and contemporary art in Asia.

DONG Shaw-hwei|Blessing in 2022 – Wishing Purple Vine|2022|Oil on canvas|130×97cm (Left)
DONG Shaw-hwei|Tao Yuanming’s Poetry – Chrysanthemum|2022|Oil on canvas|130×97cm (Middle)
DONG Shaw-hwei|Wang Wei’s Poetry – The Pink Camellia|2023|Oil on canvas|130×162cm (Right)

DONG Shaw-hwei|The Golden Days in Courtyard|2023|Oil on canvas|194×224cm (diptych)

CHUANG Che|Abstract (Melting Snow with Blossoms)|1990|Oil on canvas|203×152.4cm (Left)
CHUANG Che|Power of Space|1988|Acrylic & oil on canvas|99x127cm (Right)