Shida KUO
Untitled No. 12-02

 

2012
Fired clay and metallic glaze
92.7 × 40.6 × 48.2 cm

  • 作品編號: H-18688118-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1
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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."

  • 1959 Born in Taiwan
  • 1982 B.F.A., Fine Arts in Painting, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 1992 M.A., Department of Arts and Art Professions, New York University, New York, USA
  • 1993- Adjunct Professor, Department of Arts and Art Professions at New York University, New York, USA
  • 2005- Member of the International Academy of Ceramics, Geneva, Switzerland
  • Now living and working in New York, USA

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

    2017

  • Sokyo Gallery, Kyoto, Japan
    2016

  • “SHIDA KUO: Shifting Lines and Evolving Forms”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
    2014

  • “Primal Selection”, Sokyo Gallery, Kyoto, Japan
    2010

  • ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
    2009

  • Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York, USA
    2007

  • “Shida KUO Solo Exhibition—Made in New York”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
    2006

  • NYU Gallery Space at Wagner, New York, USA
  • Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York, USA
    2005

  • ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
    2004

  • Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York, USA
    2001

  • Fine Metal Concept, New York, USA
    2000

  • NYU 80WSE Gallery, New York, USA
    1999

  • ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
    1998

  • Gallery Mic Art, Lille, France
    1993

  • Gallery 456, Chinese American Arts Council, New York, USA
    1992

  • NYU 80WSE Gallery, New York, USA

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

    2017

  • “Essential Earth”, Wayne Art Center, Wayne, USA
    2016

  • “NY, NY: Clay”, Clay Art Center, Port Chester, USA
    2015

  • “Head Space”, NYU Art Department, New York, USA
  • “Green Room”, NYU Art Department, New York, USA
  • “Arts Faculty Show”, NYU Pless Hall, New York, USA
    2014

  • “IAC members exhibition”, Dublin, Ireland
  • “TAAC Recognition: Taiwanese American Artists”, Queens Museum, New York, USA
    2013

  • “Being Entangled with Paper: An International Survey of Works on / by / of / with / from Paper”, Star Gallery, Beijing, China
  • Halcyon Gallery, Shanghai, China
  • “Material Spin”, NYU Art Department, New York, USA
  • “Wrinkles of Time”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
    2012

  • “New World: Timeless Visions”, Membership Show of the International Academy of Ceramics, New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • “Arts Faculty Show”, NYU Pless Hall, New York, USA
    2010

  • “Margin” The Common, NYU Barney Building, New York, USA
    2009

  • Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York, USA
    2008

  • Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York, USA
    2007

  • "Arts Faculty Show”, NYU, New York, USA
    2006

  • Multnomah Arts Center, Portland, USA
  • “‘□○*#~’ Abstract Painting”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
  • “An Invitational Exhibition of Ceramic Art from Taiwan”, National Museum of History, Taipei, Taiwan
    2005

  • “The 3rd World Ceramic Biennale”, Icheon, South Korea
  • Weisspollack Gallery, New York, USA
  • Hammond Museum, New York, USA
  • Fondazione Sant’ Antonio, Noli, Italy
    2004

  • “Fifth Biennale d’Arte Contemporanea Paraxo”, Andora, Italy
  • “Fogli Parlanti”, Alaasio, Italy
  • Jericho Plaza, New York, USA
    2003

  • Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York, USA
    2002

  • Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York, USA
    2001

  • Gallery of Amerasia Bank, New York, USA
  • Taipei Gallery, New York, USA
    2000

  • Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, USA
  • Cork Gallery, Lincoln Center, New York, USA
  • Gallery of Amerasia Bank, New York, USA
  • Baltimore Clayworks, Baltimore, USA
  • Guangdong Shiwan Ceramics Museum, Foshan, China
    1999

  • “Ceramic Arts Millennium Invitational Exhibition”, Beijing, China
  • Kuo Mu Sheng Foundation Arts Center, Taipei, Taiwan
    1998

  • Galerie Pierre, Taichung, Taiwan
  • “International Ceramic Exhibition”, Yixing Ceramics Museum, Wuxi, China
    1997

  • Queens Library Gallery, New York, USA
    1996

  • Rogaland Kunstsenter, Stavanger, Norway
  • NYU 80WSE Gallery, New York, USA
  • New World Art Center, New York, USA
    1995

  • Apex Art, New York, USA
    1994

  • UP Gallery, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
  • ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Rosenberg Gallery, New York, USA
    1993

  • Cork Gallery, Lincoln Center, New York, USA
  • ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
    1992

  • Rosenberg Gallery, New York, USA
    1991

  • NYU Loeb Student Center, New York, USA
    1988

  • Yung-Han Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan

PUBLIC COLLECTIONS

  • Yingge Ceramics Museum, New Taipei City, Taiwan
  • Racine Art Museum, Racine, USA
  • Outdoor Public Art for Tianmu SOGO Department Store, Taipei, Taiwan
  • San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, San Angelo, USA
  • Centro Cultural Paraxo, Alaasio, Italy
  • Edward R. Broida Collection, Orlando, USA
  • National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, Taiwan
  • Yageo Foundation of Art, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Guangdong Shiwan Ceramics Museum, Foshan, China
  • Yixing Ceramics Museum, Wuxi, China
  • River Art Center, Taichung, Taiwan
  • National Taiwan Arts Education Center, Taipei, Taiwan
  • National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan
Click on each year's works

SHIDA KUO: Shifting Lines and Evolving Forms

By Jenning King

Six years have passed since Shida Kuo last exhibited at ESLITE GALLERY in 2010. This June, 2016, Kuo will have his latest solo show at ESLITE again. During this interval, Kuo dives deeper into his original aspiration. In addition to continuing searching for forgotten forms or creating new ones, he takes a further step in crisscrossing and mutually inflating or compressing his forms, so that they now appear both two- and three-dimensionally on canvases or stands. Similar direction was evident in his last exhibition; his new works, however, be it two- or three-dimensional, play off or converge with each other in a particularly intriguing way.

During the 1980s, the climate of fine arts in Taiwan was moving from Nativist realism in domination to avant-garde trends in diversification. The first official institution of modern art—Taipei Fine Arts Museum—was founded. Many expatriate artists began trumpeting for Minimal art and experimental spaces after returning home. Other artists chose to attend to real-world changes and respond to such issues as gender discourse, social politics, and environmental protection. Meanwhile, many art groups were prospering, including “Taipei Art Group” and SOCA (Studio of Contemporary Art). Such was the excitement that greeted Shida Kuo as he graduated from Department of Fine Arts at National Taiwan Normal University in 1982. However, he was not disposed to follow those trends but to maintain his own particularity by intentionally distancing himself from the mainstream movements. Fundamentally, he adhered to his natural gift in handiwork, making use of materials at hand and unceasingly exploring and experiencing the potentials of “form.” In 1989, he left Taiwan for New York and in 1990 enrolled into the Department of Arts and Art Professions at New York University. His life as an emigrant artist in a foreign country was hence commenced.

Upon his arrival in New York, Kuo frequented the American Museum of Natural History, instead of, counterintuitively, the prestigious museums most artists held as must-goes. Seeing the lives of early humans, he was impressed by their primitive and instinctive ways of living. He observed that different peoples could be moved by identical form or material, which inspired a volley of questions: Why was he often enchanted by certain kinds of form and material? Why did people of varied cultures create similar forms? Is that an evidence of homogeneity of mankind as a collective species? As a young artist coming from and educated in the East, Kuo asked himself: Was there any chance that his artistic disposition might have something in common with the essence of Western art?

To return to his first aspiration for art and to formulate his idiosyncratic vocabulary, Kuo embarked on a long-term quest in search of the most fundamental forms. He observed natural things and creatures from different angles and recorded his findings with drawings, trying to pinpoint the most “essential” forms. Beginning from works, of simple round forms and squares, such as Distilled Dreams (1992) and Untitled No. 9 (1999), Kuo gradually consolidated his modest and sincere style, along with an artistic vocabulary that is crystalline and pure.

Kuo’s way of creation involves subtraction and meditation. All his endeavors aim at returning to the origin or his inner essence. As he confided, “I like to follow my nature, and I particularly cherish the arbitrary happenings during my creation.” He pays attention to varying lines and forms in daily lives—some are fragmented or partial, some unfinished—and jots them down on square notes. As such, thousands of notes can be seen on his studio walls.

When conceiving ideas, he often sits in his studio with paper and pen in hands. After mentally retrieving from daily triviality, it would be as if he has entered a space without gravity and where assorted forms and lines are free-floating, awaiting the artist’s random combination or simply clashing into one another. In such semi-automatic state, he can make hundreds of “doodles” and would not cease until he feels satisfied with a specific form.

For Shida Kuo, an artwork “should carry its creator’s thoughts as well as traces of its making, showing the artist’s anxiety, insanity, or simply bewilderment, so as to become a soulful work.” Given that his works are the outcomes of his subconscious and intuition, there is no narrative content, and thus they are all named “Untitled.” The works do not form into any series, either, as each one is distinct and unique.

Kuo does not employ realistic forms as subjects, which however give off certain déjà vu quality. Some works make people smile, and some quietly exist, while others are like flashing inspiration. They are abstract thoughts or drifts of emotion condensed into three-dimensional forms. Strewn here and there across the exhibition space, the works invite viewers to experience, speculate on, and decode their mysteries. People rich in creativity may take his works as springboards to unleash their imagination, but it may also be their inner consciousness that is actually articulating. For instance, is it possible to consider Untitled No. 08-06 (2008) a piece of wineware, drunken and delighted, dancing to itself? Untitled No. 11-01 (2011) has something like a megaphone on its erect body, seeming to flow out solemn sounds. Untitled No. 15-05 (2015), for female viewers, may represent a plump woman raising her leg and doing yoga, while male audience may regard it as a submarine with a telescope above sea level, inspecting its surroundings.

Artists who are untiringly curious often tend to be widely experimental. When Shida Kuo noted that acrylic paints became increasingly flexible, he began, in 2007, integrating his grasp of paints and sculpture skills on canvas. “I always show a few paintings or prints in every exhibition. But in the past, the paints weren’t as dynamic as what we have today, so I didn’t make much canvas work. Now, I can add different materials into acrylic paints, such as fibers, colored glass sand, mica sand, nature sand, and even ceramic grog, using such mixed paints to strike up new possibilities.” After all, Kuo is schooled in the tradition of oil painting. He is able to explore different materials on canvas and travel between sculpture and painting at will. He innovates and enriches the common ground between sculpture and painting, and the pleasure of playing with colors occupies him again.

Each of his works is conceived and completed independently. In this 2016 show, his works on canvas are more diversified. Three artistic endeavors, his preoccupations about canvas work since 2007, can be discerned: First, he continues using images that resemble flattened containers. His subjects are presented to contain internal space, like his hollowed ceramic sculptures. This is an extension of his constant exploration in inner space, for which Untitled P02-15 (2015) is a good example. Second, he addresses spatial and architectural forms on canvas and identifies space via simplest lines, as shown by Untitled P01-14 (2014). Third, he finds varying ways to exemplify the “purity” of painting—an obsession since college. He focuses on such basics as point, line, plane, texture, and material, without making narrative expressions, as illustrated by Untitled P06-15 (2015). Meanwhile, he uses square canvases and doesn’t emphasize much on composition nor narrative content. In doing so, his works can be propped in various directions—upright, upside down or reversed—and still be able to maintain visual legitimacy.

In a time when conceptual art, installation art, and multimedia art have become overwhelming trends, Shida Kuo proceeds on his own path, like fish that swim unswervingly upstream in turbulent waters to reach the source of its origin. He also insists on making works with his own hands, so as to bestow more warmth, tangible and even organic feelings to them, which come to bear the traces of life and time in passing. Like human being, each artwork is unique. “You must look deep into yourself until you come up with something that is ridiculously you. That is originality,” said Kuo about his take on making art.

Shida Kuo’s works, sculptures or canvases, are his response to the primitive summoning from his inner self. Accordingly, his works appear both remote and familiar, natural and industrial, concrete and abstract, Eastern and Western—they feel intimate to us, yet they resist thorough interpretation. This is where verbal language fails. One sees something but is unable to name it. Shida Kuo’s art suggests such ineffable experience.

    SOLO EXHIBITIONS

  • 2016 “SHIDA KUO: Shifting Lines and Evolving Forms”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 2010 ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 2007 “Shida KUO Solo Exhibition—Made in New York”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 2005 ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 1999 ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
    GROUP EXHIBITIONS

  • 2013 “Wrinkles of Time”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 2006 “‘□○*#~’ Abstract Painting”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 1994 ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 1993 ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
Shida KUO%sUntitled No. 12-03
Shida KUO%sUntitled No. 11-01
  • 1959 Born in Taiwan
  • 1982 B.F.A., Fine Arts in Painting, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 1992 M.A., Department of Arts and Art Professions, New York University, New York, USA
  • 1993- Adjunct Professor, Department of Arts and Art Professions at New York University, New York, USA
  • 2005- Member of the International Academy of Ceramics, Geneva, Switzerland
  • Now living and working in New York, USA

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

    2017

  • Sokyo Gallery, Kyoto, Japan
    2016

  • “SHIDA KUO: Shifting Lines and Evolving Forms”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
    2014

  • “Primal Selection”, Sokyo Gallery, Kyoto, Japan
    2010

  • ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
    2009

  • Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York, USA
    2007

  • “Shida KUO Solo Exhibition—Made in New York”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
    2006

  • NYU Gallery Space at Wagner, New York, USA
  • Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York, USA
    2005

  • ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
    2004

  • Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York, USA
    2001

  • Fine Metal Concept, New York, USA
    2000

  • NYU 80WSE Gallery, New York, USA
    1999

  • ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
    1998

  • Gallery Mic Art, Lille, France
    1993

  • Gallery 456, Chinese American Arts Council, New York, USA
    1992

  • NYU 80WSE Gallery, New York, USA

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

    2017

  • “Essential Earth”, Wayne Art Center, Wayne, USA
    2016

  • “NY, NY: Clay”, Clay Art Center, Port Chester, USA
    2015

  • “Head Space”, NYU Art Department, New York, USA
  • “Green Room”, NYU Art Department, New York, USA
  • “Arts Faculty Show”, NYU Pless Hall, New York, USA
    2014

  • “IAC members exhibition”, Dublin, Ireland
  • “TAAC Recognition: Taiwanese American Artists”, Queens Museum, New York, USA
    2013

  • “Being Entangled with Paper: An International Survey of Works on / by / of / with / from Paper”, Star Gallery, Beijing, China
  • Halcyon Gallery, Shanghai, China
  • “Material Spin”, NYU Art Department, New York, USA
  • “Wrinkles of Time”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
    2012

  • “New World: Timeless Visions”, Membership Show of the International Academy of Ceramics, New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • “Arts Faculty Show”, NYU Pless Hall, New York, USA
    2010

  • “Margin” The Common, NYU Barney Building, New York, USA
    2009

  • Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York, USA
    2008

  • Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York, USA
    2007

  • "Arts Faculty Show”, NYU, New York, USA
    2006

  • Multnomah Arts Center, Portland, USA
  • “‘□○*#~’ Abstract Painting”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
  • “An Invitational Exhibition of Ceramic Art from Taiwan”, National Museum of History, Taipei, Taiwan
    2005

  • “The 3rd World Ceramic Biennale”, Icheon, South Korea
  • Weisspollack Gallery, New York, USA
  • Hammond Museum, New York, USA
  • Fondazione Sant’ Antonio, Noli, Italy
    2004

  • “Fifth Biennale d’Arte Contemporanea Paraxo”, Andora, Italy
  • “Fogli Parlanti”, Alaasio, Italy
  • Jericho Plaza, New York, USA
    2003

  • Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York, USA
    2002

  • Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York, USA
    2001

  • Gallery of Amerasia Bank, New York, USA
  • Taipei Gallery, New York, USA
    2000

  • Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, USA
  • Cork Gallery, Lincoln Center, New York, USA
  • Gallery of Amerasia Bank, New York, USA
  • Baltimore Clayworks, Baltimore, USA
  • Guangdong Shiwan Ceramics Museum, Foshan, China
    1999

  • “Ceramic Arts Millennium Invitational Exhibition”, Beijing, China
  • Kuo Mu Sheng Foundation Arts Center, Taipei, Taiwan
    1998

  • Galerie Pierre, Taichung, Taiwan
  • “International Ceramic Exhibition”, Yixing Ceramics Museum, Wuxi, China
    1997

  • Queens Library Gallery, New York, USA
    1996

  • Rogaland Kunstsenter, Stavanger, Norway
  • NYU 80WSE Gallery, New York, USA
  • New World Art Center, New York, USA
    1995

  • Apex Art, New York, USA
    1994

  • UP Gallery, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
  • ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Rosenberg Gallery, New York, USA
    1993

  • Cork Gallery, Lincoln Center, New York, USA
  • ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
    1992

  • Rosenberg Gallery, New York, USA
    1991

  • NYU Loeb Student Center, New York, USA
    1988

  • Yung-Han Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan

PUBLIC COLLECTIONS

  • Yingge Ceramics Museum, New Taipei City, Taiwan
  • Racine Art Museum, Racine, USA
  • Outdoor Public Art for Tianmu SOGO Department Store, Taipei, Taiwan
  • San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, San Angelo, USA
  • Centro Cultural Paraxo, Alaasio, Italy
  • Edward R. Broida Collection, Orlando, USA
  • National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, Taiwan
  • Yageo Foundation of Art, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Guangdong Shiwan Ceramics Museum, Foshan, China
  • Yixing Ceramics Museum, Wuxi, China
  • River Art Center, Taichung, Taiwan
  • National Taiwan Arts Education Center, Taipei, Taiwan
  • National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan
Click on each year's works

SHIDA KUO: Shifting Lines and Evolving Forms

By Jenning King

Six years have passed since Shida Kuo last exhibited at ESLITE GALLERY in 2010. This June, 2016, Kuo will have his latest solo show at ESLITE again. During this interval, Kuo dives deeper into his original aspiration. In addition to continuing searching for forgotten forms or creating new ones, he takes a further step in crisscrossing and mutually inflating or compressing his forms, so that they now appear both two- and three-dimensionally on canvases or stands. Similar direction was evident in his last exhibition; his new works, however, be it two- or three-dimensional, play off or converge with each other in a particularly intriguing way.

During the 1980s, the climate of fine arts in Taiwan was moving from Nativist realism in domination to avant-garde trends in diversification. The first official institution of modern art—Taipei Fine Arts Museum—was founded. Many expatriate artists began trumpeting for Minimal art and experimental spaces after returning home. Other artists chose to attend to real-world changes and respond to such issues as gender discourse, social politics, and environmental protection. Meanwhile, many art groups were prospering, including “Taipei Art Group” and SOCA (Studio of Contemporary Art). Such was the excitement that greeted Shida Kuo as he graduated from Department of Fine Arts at National Taiwan Normal University in 1982. However, he was not disposed to follow those trends but to maintain his own particularity by intentionally distancing himself from the mainstream movements. Fundamentally, he adhered to his natural gift in handiwork, making use of materials at hand and unceasingly exploring and experiencing the potentials of “form.” In 1989, he left Taiwan for New York and in 1990 enrolled into the Department of Arts and Art Professions at New York University. His life as an emigrant artist in a foreign country was hence commenced.

Upon his arrival in New York, Kuo frequented the American Museum of Natural History, instead of, counterintuitively, the prestigious museums most artists held as must-goes. Seeing the lives of early humans, he was impressed by their primitive and instinctive ways of living. He observed that different peoples could be moved by identical form or material, which inspired a volley of questions: Why was he often enchanted by certain kinds of form and material? Why did people of varied cultures create similar forms? Is that an evidence of homogeneity of mankind as a collective species? As a young artist coming from and educated in the East, Kuo asked himself: Was there any chance that his artistic disposition might have something in common with the essence of Western art?

To return to his first aspiration for art and to formulate his idiosyncratic vocabulary, Kuo embarked on a long-term quest in search of the most fundamental forms. He observed natural things and creatures from different angles and recorded his findings with drawings, trying to pinpoint the most “essential” forms. Beginning from works, of simple round forms and squares, such as Distilled Dreams (1992) and Untitled No. 9 (1999), Kuo gradually consolidated his modest and sincere style, along with an artistic vocabulary that is crystalline and pure.

Kuo’s way of creation involves subtraction and meditation. All his endeavors aim at returning to the origin or his inner essence. As he confided, “I like to follow my nature, and I particularly cherish the arbitrary happenings during my creation.” He pays attention to varying lines and forms in daily lives—some are fragmented or partial, some unfinished—and jots them down on square notes. As such, thousands of notes can be seen on his studio walls.

When conceiving ideas, he often sits in his studio with paper and pen in hands. After mentally retrieving from daily triviality, it would be as if he has entered a space without gravity and where assorted forms and lines are free-floating, awaiting the artist’s random combination or simply clashing into one another. In such semi-automatic state, he can make hundreds of “doodles” and would not cease until he feels satisfied with a specific form.

For Shida Kuo, an artwork “should carry its creator’s thoughts as well as traces of its making, showing the artist’s anxiety, insanity, or simply bewilderment, so as to become a soulful work.” Given that his works are the outcomes of his subconscious and intuition, there is no narrative content, and thus they are all named “Untitled.” The works do not form into any series, either, as each one is distinct and unique.

Kuo does not employ realistic forms as subjects, which however give off certain déjà vu quality. Some works make people smile, and some quietly exist, while others are like flashing inspiration. They are abstract thoughts or drifts of emotion condensed into three-dimensional forms. Strewn here and there across the exhibition space, the works invite viewers to experience, speculate on, and decode their mysteries. People rich in creativity may take his works as springboards to unleash their imagination, but it may also be their inner consciousness that is actually articulating. For instance, is it possible to consider Untitled No. 08-06 (2008) a piece of wineware, drunken and delighted, dancing to itself? Untitled No. 11-01 (2011) has something like a megaphone on its erect body, seeming to flow out solemn sounds. Untitled No. 15-05 (2015), for female viewers, may represent a plump woman raising her leg and doing yoga, while male audience may regard it as a submarine with a telescope above sea level, inspecting its surroundings.

Artists who are untiringly curious often tend to be widely experimental. When Shida Kuo noted that acrylic paints became increasingly flexible, he began, in 2007, integrating his grasp of paints and sculpture skills on canvas. “I always show a few paintings or prints in every exhibition. But in the past, the paints weren’t as dynamic as what we have today, so I didn’t make much canvas work. Now, I can add different materials into acrylic paints, such as fibers, colored glass sand, mica sand, nature sand, and even ceramic grog, using such mixed paints to strike up new possibilities.” After all, Kuo is schooled in the tradition of oil painting. He is able to explore different materials on canvas and travel between sculpture and painting at will. He innovates and enriches the common ground between sculpture and painting, and the pleasure of playing with colors occupies him again.

Each of his works is conceived and completed independently. In this 2016 show, his works on canvas are more diversified. Three artistic endeavors, his preoccupations about canvas work since 2007, can be discerned: First, he continues using images that resemble flattened containers. His subjects are presented to contain internal space, like his hollowed ceramic sculptures. This is an extension of his constant exploration in inner space, for which Untitled P02-15 (2015) is a good example. Second, he addresses spatial and architectural forms on canvas and identifies space via simplest lines, as shown by Untitled P01-14 (2014). Third, he finds varying ways to exemplify the “purity” of painting—an obsession since college. He focuses on such basics as point, line, plane, texture, and material, without making narrative expressions, as illustrated by Untitled P06-15 (2015). Meanwhile, he uses square canvases and doesn’t emphasize much on composition nor narrative content. In doing so, his works can be propped in various directions—upright, upside down or reversed—and still be able to maintain visual legitimacy.

In a time when conceptual art, installation art, and multimedia art have become overwhelming trends, Shida Kuo proceeds on his own path, like fish that swim unswervingly upstream in turbulent waters to reach the source of its origin. He also insists on making works with his own hands, so as to bestow more warmth, tangible and even organic feelings to them, which come to bear the traces of life and time in passing. Like human being, each artwork is unique. “You must look deep into yourself until you come up with something that is ridiculously you. That is originality,” said Kuo about his take on making art.

Shida Kuo’s works, sculptures or canvases, are his response to the primitive summoning from his inner self. Accordingly, his works appear both remote and familiar, natural and industrial, concrete and abstract, Eastern and Western—they feel intimate to us, yet they resist thorough interpretation. This is where verbal language fails. One sees something but is unable to name it. Shida Kuo’s art suggests such ineffable experience.

    SOLO EXHIBITIONS

  • 2016 “SHIDA KUO: Shifting Lines and Evolving Forms”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 2010 ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 2007 “Shida KUO Solo Exhibition—Made in New York”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 2005 ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 1999 ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
    GROUP EXHIBITIONS

  • 2013 “Wrinkles of Time”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 2006 “‘□○*#~’ Abstract Painting”, ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 1994 ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 1993 ESLITE GALLERY, Taipei, Taiwan

額外資訊

Color

Black, White

Years

2011-2020

Size

Medium

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