CHENG Nung-Hsuan.Messenger

ESLITE GALLERY is pleased to present CHENG Nung-Hsuan's solo exhibition Messenger this October, featuring his latest pieces from the Messenger and Crawl series. In the Messenger series, CHENG weaves a tapestry of characters resembling both human and mythical beings onto each canvas. These vividly constructed fantasy scenes transport viewers into a world rooted in European medieval folklore. Through this, he stages a theatrical portrayal of modern society's "human" narrative.

  • Exhibition Period:21 October - 18 November 2023
  • Address:ESLITE GALLERY ∣ B1, No. 88, Yanchang Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei City 110055, Taiwan

Born in 1983, CHENG Nung-Hsuan completed his education at the Fine Arts Department of the National Taipei University of Arts in 2006. From then on, he has been passionately immersed in his artistic journey, using painting as his primary medium. This is his first solo exhibition with ESLITE GALLERY. In his earlier works, CHENG primarily focused on portraiture, employing methods like erasure and paint-over to imbue portraits with mutated or obscured visages, offering a lens into daily interpersonal dynamics. Post-2015 marked a significant shift in CHENG's artistic approach. His artworks no longer portrayed an evident connection to everyday life. Instead, he began embedding and concealing his personal experiences within the canvas. His depictions of figures, objects, and occurrences evolved into vague conglomerations, assembled from myriad fragmented and irregular forms. Barely recognizable traces of human or animal shapes can be perceived. For instance, in the 2021 pieces Crawl No. 1 and Crawl No. 2, there are elusive creatures that hint at "aliens" clinging to another abstract entity. In the 2022 works Unnamed No. 4 and Unnamed No. 5, there exist formations reminiscent of hands, crafted from numerous slender, tentacle-like elements. An air of uncertainty and enigma shrouds these artworks.

Contrary to his earlier pieces that are more standalone, the paintings in the Messenger series convey a continuous style, with recurring elements that mirror the various acts in a stage play. Drawing inspiration from European medieval arts, CHENG seamlessly blends their color palettes, shapes, structures, and visual elements into his creations. This fusion serves as a foundation for the series. Yet, unlike medieval art, the figures in the series are more interactive with their surroundings in different postures, suggesting an implicit story. However, viewers grapple with pinpointing real-world references within the artwork, leaving the storyline tantalizingly elusive. This ambiguity aligns perfectly with CHENG's intent. While his artistic expressions stem from real-life experiences and examples, they've undergone multiple metamorphoses, detaching themselves from their real-life origins. As CHENG puts it, "It's not about the content of the story; I'm captivated by the art of storytelling itself."

In Messenger No. 16, for instance, the figure appears to be besieged by an unseen force and targeted by sharp, unyielding lines. CHENG masterfully portrays an encounter with an unpleasant subject but morphs the adversary into abstract clusters that clash with the main figure. Meanwhile, Messenger No. 28 paints a scene of individuals enjoying a leisurely stroll outdoors. The motion of the figures is discernible, and the backdrop of trees evokes the setting of a stage play. Draped in undulating ribbon-like forms, there's a palpable feel of disarray and vagueness. The Messenger series invites viewers on an experiential journey, encouraging them to navigate through the paintings for an uninterrupted visual engagement. This experience echoes the reverence of admiring Western religious paintings—one becomes entranced by the lines, colors, constructs, and shapes, even if the inherent religious symbols may not be entirely grasped. Such lack of understanding doesn't diminish the artistic essence of religious pieces, which continue to provide a plethora of aesthetic delights.

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