Shida Kuo: Un/Form, De/Intellectualize

ESLITE GALLERY is pleased to present “Shida Kuo Solo Exhibition” from 20 June to 26 July 2020, featuring more than 30 works made between 1996 and 2020 by the New York-based Taiwanese artist. From early “sculpture sketches,” sculptures of various sizes to new painting directions, these works show Kuo’s purity and singularity in the hyperactive world of contemporary art. This is also the first solo exhibition ESLITE staged in its new space in eslite spectrum Songyan Store.

  • Exhibition Period:20 June – 26 July 2020
  • Address:ESLITE GALLERY ∣ B2, No. 88, Yanchang Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei City 110055, Taiwan

Untitled 13-05 and Untitled 17-01 are small works originally made for an exhibition in Kyoto, Japan, three years ago. Exuding a relaxed and pleasurable air, these works transport us back in history for a dialogue with ancient Japanese masters about ceramic art past and present. Untitled P 01-20 and Untitled P02-20, including others, reveal Kuo’s new direction in painting, in which interaction between subject and space and unforeseen texture emerge. Somewhere between print, sculpture and painting, wall pieces such as Untitled SW-02 and Untitled SW-03 perhaps best exemplify Kuo’s crossover versatility.

Contemporary art today is a dynamic world where fluxes of ideologies, “-isms,” concepts, ideas and philosophies converge to continuously challenge existing boundaries. Shida Kuo is no stranger to the latest trends and movements in the contemporary art world for having lived in New York for over thirty years and taught in the art department of New York University for more than two decades. However, it is never his intention to ride the wave but to submerge in a solitary quest that reaches deep into the subconsciousness to the source of creativity. “This is where Eastern and Western cultures intrinsically differ. Western culture seeks objectivity through outward expressions, whereas Eastern culture focuses on subjectivity through inner cultivation of self,” observed Kuo. As such, his works arise from a laborious process involving at times a spoon to polish surfaces or sometimes a palette knife to build images, and passage of time is incorporated to give birth to ineffable yet intriguing inventions. In his practice, Kuo creates organic forms that are nonsensical and mystical, radiating originality that is genuinely his own.

Shida KUO was born in Taiwan in 1959; he received his master in sculpture from New York University in 1992 and continues to work in New York. KUO is in search of forms that have a basic, pre-linguistic relationship to our bodies, forms that are “repressed by our consciousness but are persistent in our veins”.

The choice of material is integral to the concept of KUO’s art. He intentionally uses clay and wood to maintain a deeply felt affinity with that which makes us human. KUO insists that each work is individual and refuses to create within the constraints of series; he also refuses to enforce a title onto his work. The best way to appreciate his art, according to the artist himself, is to “live with it for some time”.

The paintings KUO exhibited along the sculptures are to be viewed as an extension of the ceramic works and a continuous exploration of interior spaces. KUO treats his paintings as “flat sculptures”, a term which accent its three-dimensional feature. KUO blends fiber, mica powder, and sand into acrylic paint to explore new creative possibilities, he also uses oil pastels for fine processing on his “flat sculptures”.

KUO’s simplified earthenware forms, richly tactile, talismanic, dense and hermetic, seem to allude to ancient knowledge, to wordless secrets that may be revealed through contemplative touching of the object. “By combining the organic quality of nature with the psychological ambiguities of the inner self, I seek to create my own vocabulary of forms which convey a spiritual perspective.”