Hello & Good-bye: Yeh Jen-kun Solo Exhibition
This is a comprehensive exhibition showing the Taiwanese artist Yeh Jen-kun’s ink and gouache paintings.
Yeh Jen-Kun’s traditional mediums with contemporary expression are highlighted in “A Kind of Nostalgia Concerning Yeh Jen Kun’s Paintings” by Chuan Wei-Tzug as below:
Yeh Jen-Kun graduated from Chinese Culture University and later obtained his master’s degree from Taipei National University of the Arts. He initially studied ink and wash painting and did not start using Eastern gouache until he attended graduate school. In spite of the long history of Eastern gouache as a traditional medium, Yeh’s ways of creating are never bound by conventional techniques. Yeh’s pursuit of artistry, honesty towards his subject matter, and the expression of his own touch are all as important as the strong visual presence that governs his work. If we were to dissect Yeh’s paintings from this point of view, it would not be difficult to understand why, beyond the bleak and deserted city spaces in his paintings, Yeh Jen-Kun never fails to create textures that mesmerize his audience.
In the historical context, Yeh Jen-Kun has fused techniques of traditional ink and wash painting with gouache. Further, he has also introduced a contemporary line of thinking into his works that result in artworks that stand out from what is commonly perceived as gouache and ink and wash painting. In Yeh’s recent body of works, he mostly depicts empty cities. Strong sharp lines, heavy shades of blue, and omnipresent concrete buildings are the elements that dominate these works and make them readily recognizable.
Greek philosopher Plato believed that paintings can only present an illusion; it is the viewer’s resulting cognition that is real. In Yeh’s paintings, the ruin-like existences respond to the desolate spaces that have been neglected in real life and pay homage to the beauties that no longer remain. The carefully applied layers of ink and the gouache, laid on brushstroke by brushstroke, are mediums that produce marks, all of which correspond with the time in which the buildings exist along with the spaces that harbor them. The effect of the paint, which almost evokes a sense of touch, is proof that time has borne witness to what has passed; one might also say that the paint is the vestige of time.
In recent years, Yeh Jen-Kun has been focused solely on depicting the feelings that metropolitan areas give him — coldness, distance, and a feeling of isolated beauty — all of which he expresses, without holding back, amidst the concrete-like grays and the deep and dark blues. With his brush, mediums are not constrained by tradition. Yeh Jen-Kun stated, “When I was first introduced to Eastern gouache, I thought that it could be a different medium that could transcend rigid rules and be used at one’s will. And perhaps different subject matters (in the painting) can be accentuated with different mediums and textures.” It is precisely for this reason that Yeh Jen-Kun incorporated silver foils, applied on forests and plants, in his new work from 2015, Somewhere In the Deepest Memory. The foils glitter in an understated yet brilliant fashion. The brilliance exists just like the light of planets billions of light years away. It shines brightly like memories that have long been buried, telling stories to those who are able to recognize the light. Yeh’s constant experiments and perpetual investigations of various mediums proves that he — beyond continuing ink and wash and gouache techniques — is also trying to amalgamate the two different textures onto one painting. In so doing, Yeh Jen-Kun, similar to the artists who have paved new roads for Eastern gouache, is both proposing questions through new lines of artistic thinking as well as seeking the answers.
About the Artist
Yeh Ren-kun (born in 1984 in Pinjhen, Taoyuan, Taiwan) is an artist featuring ink and gouache. He received an M.F.A. from Taipei National University of the Arts, School of Fine Arts (TNUA), Taiwan in 2008. His exhibitions include: Yes,Taiwan-2014 Taiwan Biennial (National Taiwan Museum, Taichung, 2014), The 4th Taipei Contemporary Ink Painting Biennial (National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Taipei, 2012). He was awarded by the Taipei International Modern Ink Painting Biennial in 2006, 2008, and 2010. His painting is collected by National Taiwan Museum. He currently lives and works in Taipei, Taiwan.