YU Peng was born near Taipei in Waishuanghsi, and didn’t receive professional art training, but rather studied woodblock printing, ceramics and watercolor on his own and at different studios. From 1971 to 1975 he studied at the studio of CHEN Yi-geng, and from 1975 to 1977 while enlisted in the military sketched in various locations, observing the features of Taiwan’s landscapes. From 1977 to 1980 he became a street painter and studied traditional shadow puppetry with CHANG Ming-Shou and HSU Fu-Neng. In 1981 he traveled in Greece and visited sites of famous scenery throughout Mainland China. After returning to Taiwan he opened an art center, a ceramics studio and then a small shadow puppet theater.
The rich experiences of YU Peng’s life are clearly reflected in his works which are mainly landscapes and gardens. His approach to life is one of enjoyment and appreciation, and this can be easily deduced from his work, which contains a kind of uninhibited inward looking style. In the early 90’s, he started making a series of ink paintings by imitating classical works, cleverly transforming the traditional landscapes and also blending scenes from Taipei’s popular teahouse culture into the compositions. These combinations of traditional and contemporary culture presented scenes with unusual qualities, as if they were a Utopia lost in time and space. After the 1990’s, besides painting landscapes and gardens, nude figures started becoming one of the main elements of his work. Lust, birth, age, illness and death once again were presented in YU Peng’s unique depictions of life, in his sometimes real, sometimes imaginary, sometimes ancient and sometimes contemporary style.
YU Peng’s landscapes present a romantic spirit which is incompatible and far removed from the nervous pace of urbanization, technological development and information dissemination in contemporary life. However, he doesn’t paint people in historical costumes or traditional literati landscapes, but rather his own family and friends in a home garden that blends old and new. He often depicts himself in his paintings enjoying the life of the contemporary elder generation, savoring a playful life of cultural grace and memories of the past. The artist uses layered and often indistinct detailed drawings to leap between explorations of different times and places, taking some intriguing detours along the way and arriving at some surprising wonders. The intriguing, unrestrained diverse imagery in YU Peng’s paintings actually blend various aspects of contemporary city life, but he leaps from the continuity of time and space and escapes into praise for a bygone era with a nostalgic style. In this exuberant and sweeping, spiritual survey, the artists conveys a somewhat sarcastic meaning through ‘unreality’.
Life in East Asia has changed rapidly since the 20th Century as industrialization was introduced from the west, in terms of food, clothing, living and transport. Likewise, life of the literati and classic landscapes portrayed in traditional ink painting are also being disintegrated into the hustles and bustles of modern city life. When there is a huge gap between the Utopia in traditional landscapes and the contemporary realities, what can an ink painter do to effectively bring the two together for evolutionary changes to his work?
YU Peng is a self-learned artist. He has not once felt restricted by any academic training, schools of thoughts or traditional painting techniques when he paints. Therefore, he has been able to more openmindedly express his imaginations of and reflections on modern life than others. Because he does aspire to live gracefully like the Chinese literati did, his work shows a kind of literati-inspired aesthetics which he has managed to develop in metropolitan Taiwan. But at the same time, he has still explored art beyond tradition. Believing that “the sky and the earth are both mine, and the past and the present are kept in my mind,” he brings fantasy and reality together with a touch of lust. He also introduces his personal perspective on modern life, which he believes is lustful and materialistic, yet also diverse and full of great ideas, to create those unique landscapes.
|English title：||Natural Affinity with Friends|
|Medium / Classification：||ink painting and calligraphy|
|Life-span：||1955 - 2014|
|Collection Unit：||Collection of the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts|
|Contact method for authorization：||
Guide to the Use of Image Files and Data from the Online Collection Database
|Related Exhibition：||"The Pioneers" of Taiwanese Artists, 1951-1960|