Geometric Abstraction styles in Taiwan and Indonesia: A Case of Lee Tsai-chien and Fadjar Sidik

Booth: Insight 1D48
Artists: LEE Tsai-chien, Fadjar SIDIK
Venue: Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center (1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong)
Online Viewing Room:
https://www.artbasel.com/rooms/detail/20256/Asia-Art-Center (Please register on artbasel.com to access the Online Viewing Rooms.)

Private View:
May 19, 2021 (Wed) 2-8 pm
May 20, 2021 (Thur) 2-8 pm
May 21, 2021 (Fri) 2-4 pm
May 22, 2021 (Sat) 12-2 pm
May 23, 2021 (Sun) 12-2 pm
Vernissage:
May 21, 2021 (Fri) 4-9 pm
Public Days:
May 22, 2021 (Sat) 2-8 pm
May 23, 2021 (Sun) 2-6 pm

At the upcoming Art Basel in Hong Kong, the Asia Art Center will juxtapose Lee Tsai-chien (b.1928) and Fadjar Sidik (b.1930), who are from Taiwan and Indonesia, to present the development and evolution of geometric abstraction in the two places. The viewer will have the opportunity to compare the sculptures and paintings of the two artists and explore how the two places responded to the influence of Western modern art trends under different cultural and historical contexts through different media. Although Lee Tsai-chien and Fadjar Sidik have never had any substantial exchanges in each other’s creative careers, they both use geometric elements as one of their main symbols, and respond to their respective cultural backgrounds.The Asia Art Center, since its establishment, has focused on artists who left China after the war. The motivation behind this has been to reconstruct the context in which Taiwanese and Southeast Asian modern art developed from the late 1950s onwards, and ultimately to investigate the interactions between artistic creation and contemporaneous environment.

(Center) The Harmony of Heaven, Earth, and Humankind 2021 Baking  121×49.5x109cm

Lee Tsai-chien’s sculptures were mainly influenced by the minimalism movement of the 1960s and 1970s. When Western modern art was exported to various parts of Asia as a strong cultural influence, the Taiwanese art scene also responded positively to that form of abstract art, combining it with Eastern aesthetics. As if by coincidence, Lee discovered that minimalism, at its core, shared certain key tenets with Chinese Taoism and Zen Buddhism, and was also consistent with his own in-depth understanding of The Book of Changes. As he explored these underlying interconnections, his creative work took on a precise and deliberate mathematical logic but, at the same time, grew ever more steeped in Eastern philosophical contemplations. According to the artist, the spatial aesthetics of each sentient and non-sentient thing in the Buddhist universe—in point, line, plane, and body—reflects a distinct natural order and individual set of principles, and can thus be reconstructed through the visual arts.

Golden Proportion 2015 Wooden relief, iron, canvas 152x152x5.5cm

Left 1: Untitled 01 1982 Ink on paper 19.8×29.4cm Right 1: Untitled 02 1982 Ink on paper 19.8×29.5cm

Left 2: Untitled 03 1982 Ink on paper 19.8×29.4cm Right 2: Untitled 04 1982 Ink on paper 19.8×29.4cm

On the other hand, innovative artists in Indonesia, under the influence of their Dutch colonizers, had begun experimenting with Cubism, Abstract and other Western avant-garde art styles before the war even began. Following its end, art evolved into more of a means to explore the Indonesian identity and national consciousness, and they sought to harness its expressive ability to reflect traditional Indonesian culture and the day-to-day realities of ordinary Indonesians, especially the Indonesian Institute of the Arts Yogyakarta where Fadjar Sidik studied. Distinct from his artistic peers’ pursuit in realist paintings, Fadjar Sidik committed to the creative innovation of abstracted forms and compositions, which cemented his irreplaceable contribution to the development of modern abstract art in Indonesia. By using geometric imagery of natural elements, his compositions explore the universal relationship that exists between the trinity of nature, space, and humanity, while reflecting the regional characteristics and spiritual consciousness of Indonesian culture.

Dinamika Ruang dalam Hijau (Space Dynamics in Green) 1970s-80s Oil on canvas 90x70cm

Dinamika Banteng & Burung 1990 Oil on canvas 90x70cm

Thus, taking Lee Tsai-chien and Fadjar Sidik as its core subject, this exhibition pursues one of the Center’s long-standing guiding principles. Moreover, the exhibition reveals the evolution and interrelationships between postwar East Asian and Southeast Asian modern art so as to initiate a reexamination of globalized contemporary art and its local interpretations.