SU Wong-Shen was born in Chiayi in 1956, graduated from the Fine Arts Department of Chinese Culture University in 1979 and started teaching at Tamshui Junior High School in 1983. In 1984, 1986 and 1988 his work was selected for the exhibition New Prospects for Modern Paintings in the Republic of China at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. In 1987 he quitted teaching to focus on his art career. In 1997 he moved to Puzih City in Chiayi County and ended up moving again to Kaohsiung in 1999 and settled in a military residence in Zhuoying Veteran’s Village. His early work was primarily abstract painting full of thick texture and blocks of color, and the spirit of these paintings came from the artist’s feelings and thoughts concerning social and living environment. While living alone in Tamshui, he started to develop a unique point of view regarding the situation of the spiritual life of metropolitan Taipei and chaotic social phenomena.
He painted the area where he lives his life, but from an aerial projection, maintaining the distance of a detached observer. He also painted local scenery with low houses, fenced in enclosures, old trees, land god temples, ancestral temples and graveyards, but the paintings always contained no trace of people. Animals that look like foxes, cats and dogs became protagonists in the mysterious and tranquil settings of his paintings, and formed related yet extremely alienated groups engaging in ridiculous behavior such as: standing on each other to form pyramids, tightrope walking, holding political meetings, vying with each other to talk and securing territory by driving off outsiders. These actions have deep social implications, and stand as a metaphor for all kinds of human behavior while making light hearted jokes about social forms.
The little beasts blindly following the parade teams and the way they stand against each other obviously refer to Taiwan as divided by political candidates and the mass media. Just like in Su’s other works, although no humans are present, their traces can be found everywhere. The little beasts move forward with one’s tail touching another’s head, and so on and so forth. They each have their own leaders to follow. This is not really a fun open-air theatrical performance, but one that truthfully portrays the power struggles and the conflicts of interest in society. The beasts represent humans, and the seemingly flamboyant scene implies some dark political drama in Taiwan.
SU Wang-Shen paints about his homeland, his personal feelings, and his observations of life. In a subtle, critical and nostalgic tone, he discusses the political, social and cultural issues in his works as a way to express his care for this island. But he does not simply reveal the issues or give direct pieces of advice to people. Rather, he tries to reflect on the absurd and barbarian sides of the human society through the survival fights of little animals like cats and dogs. Cats and dogs became the central figures in his paintings in 1988. Back then, Su lived in Tamshui. He would go out late in the night to observe the lives of these animals. He then painted them on the canvas to illustrate the phenomena in mankind’s world. Observations on power struggles, conflicts of interest, ethnic confrontations and change of power boundaries arehispainting motifs. He has in this way presented many of his highly political observations. The paintings he made after 1998 are largely related to elections in Taiwan. SU Wang-Shen thinks that it is because people are so easily influenced by the external world that confrontations prevail. Especially when the public gets manipulated by politicians, ethnic disunity worsens in Taiwan. Having experienced the heated legislator election and the mayoral and city council elections of Taipei and Kaohsiung in 1998, the second direct presidential election in 2000, and the legislative and county and city mayoral elections in 2001, Su felt so sickened by politics and media that he resorted to a dramatic narrative to express his criticism. Although he has tried not to “talk too much through painting” since 2006, he still shows lots of social awareness in his works. Today, with a bleak sense of humor, he continues to discuss social and political issues through art.
|English title：||Open-air Theatrical Performance|
|Medium / Classification：||Oil paints and Acrylic colors|
|Collection Unit：||Collection of the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts|
|Contact method for authorization：||
KAOHSIUNG MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS
|Related Exhibition：||"The Pioneers" of Taiwanese Artists, 1951-1960|
|Related Work：||Zizhu New Village Riverside – Ferry|