YANG Mao-Lin was born in 1953 in Changhua, Taiwan and graduated from the Fine Arts Department of Chinese Culture University in 1979. He was one of the four founders of the 101 Modern Art Group, and in 1984 formed the Taipei Art Group and assumed the post of its first president. In 1992, he won the first Lion Art Creation Award. His works in the 1980s have already showed high sensitivity to politics and history. His early paintings which borrow the subjects from Chinese classic mythology and his Graphic Hero Series in 1986 both feature storylines and characters as metaphors of authoritative regime’s dominance on culture and ideology, signifying the abused and victimized society. His artwork Behavior of Game Playing in 1987 adopts muscled bodiesand fiery gestures to depict the physical violence of the street protests or the political conflicts around the lifting of Martial Law, straightforwardly revealing the energetic but yet chaotic “Taiwan phenomenon.”
In the nineteen-nineties, he started to move towards propositions combining local, social and historical narratives, which included Made in Taiwan, Yun Mountain Memorandum, Lily Memorandum, Zealandia Memorandum and Dayuan Memorandum. These works multi-dimensionally examine the social reality and the complicated history influenced by various cultures throughout the colonial/ immigration period in Taiwan. In the late 1990s, he changed his artistic practice from political and historical issues to pop culture symbols, criticizing the transplantation of foreign cultures in Taiwan’s contemporary society in a mocking tone. After 2002, he started making the superstars in Western comics into sculptures, and integrating them with elements from the Eastern culture such as Buddha statues, altars, or shrines. These characters with “supernatural power” thus became the new holy idols where we projected our personal emotions upon. His artworks after 2007 featured love stories and the character “Alice” as the prototype, revealing his desire for salvation and spiritual satisfaction.
Made in Taiwan Series is the most powerful declaration of YANG Mao-Lin to respond to “the subjective identity of Taiwan.” The two juxtaposed windows create a responsive intensity. On the one hand, the artist uses strong muscle and fist to appraise the power of the people after the lifting of Martial Law. On the other hand, he also mocks and criticizes the obscurantist essence of politics. The slogan “For a Better Tomorrow,” a popular propaganda created by the government at that time, is appropriated as a readymade object in the image, mocking the political trick which is like alluring a donkey to walk forward with a carrot it can never get hold of. It indeed has no difference from the oppression and manipulation of the authoritative regime under the rule of Martial Law.
The career trajectory of YANG Mao-Lin is closely linked to the history and society of Taiwan. Yang already showed an interest in the island’s history and mythologies and expressed his desire to give constructive criticism to the society in his early works. In the early 1980s, he decided to stand against the mainstream, disregarding their values and ideologies so as to discuss political, social, historical and cultural issues even more critically through art. He especially focused on two inter-related topics, “the infiltration and influence of the colonialists’ culture” and “the formation and establishment of one’s own culture.”
The world started to change drastically in later years and Yang, who is quick to catch up with the changing times, diverted his attention to globalization in the mid 1990s. He gave a special and sarcastic note on how foreign cultures and local sub-cultures “attacked” the society of Taiwan. As he grew older and his thoughts changed, Yang’s focus changed again. He became interested in the “unforgettable, heart-felt moments in life, which become even more alive with time.” He resorted to mythologies and manga (a Japanese term referring to cartoons and comics) which he had loved for some time, and made sculptures of characters from western comics and oriental manga. In Alice in Wonderland (1865), based on his own imagination and preferences, he brought a fantastical paradise to life. Subverting the original storyline, he even made Alice and other major characters much more gigantic than they otherwise would be. It is through these funny formations that he reveals his most private thoughts to the public. It is also with such sincerity that he hopes to seek spiritual redemption of his own.
|Chinese title：||MADE IN TAIWAN‧標語篇VI|
|English title：||MADE IN TAIWAN‧Slogan Section VI|
|Medium / Classification：||Mixed Media|
|Collection Unit：||Courtesy of the artist|
|Contact method for authorization：||
|Related Exhibition：||"The Pioneers" of Taiwanese Artists, 1951-1960|