Born in 1946 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Yeh Chu-Sheng graduated from the Department of Fine Arts at the National Taiwan University of Arts, followed by the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid, Spain. He is currently an adjunct professor at the Taipei National University of the Arts. As a trailblazer in Taiwanese abstract art, Yeh aims to explore the relationship between human and nature in that his early works center mostly on environmental issues, thus developing the core concept in his art known as “Order and Non-order”. He is skilled at creating highly expressive paintings that either respond to the social reality or reflect the state of mind.
The exhibition “2012; 2021” features more than twenty paintings and a large-scale, site-specific installation by Yeh Chu-Sheng, suggesting the unforgettable changes he has experienced over the years, for life takes unexpected turns. Accordingly, Yeh went back to the original site of his studio nine years after the fatal fire, so the installation was created to resonate with the space that is filled with memories and means a great deal to him: a large ink wash painting on raw canvas gracefully drapes over a nearly eight-meter-high wall and reaches down to the floor, just like a long free-flowing river; it is surrounded by a myriad of stretcher frames and driftwood pieces, which were either suspended from the ceiling or scattered around the floor; also, by leaving traces in the sand through walking, brushing and pouring while making this work, Yeh tries to convey his concern about the natural environment and the lessons he has learned from life. In short, the visual language in his art manifests his unique way of thinking beyond the box and aspiration of interweaving various forms of life in harmony.
The four exhibited painting series include “Change”, “Come True”, “Trial”, and “Metamorphosis”, allowing the audience to get a better picture of how Yeh Chu-Sheng deals with the ups and downs in life, social unrest and political turmoil under various conditions by conducting artistic practices, thereby shifting the focus towards the inner symphony that echoes the emotions and sensations in everyday life. Through his art, Yeh employs colors, lines and shapes to evoke emotion; also, he seeks to live in the moment by creating worlds of color in a primal manner, along with the fusion of different symbols and materials. No matter what kind of scenario —— either filled with numerous hidden messages or vast tranquility —— is depicted within the frame, the artist not only stays connected to the world but also remains true to himself. After surviving traumatic events and tough times in life, Yeh certainly emanates positive vibes that match the titles of these series.
What is the most powerful way for an artist to change the world? Looking back, as Yeh returned to Taiwan after finishing his studies overseas, he decided to put effort into fueling Taiwanese local arts scene by becoming a teacher and had since inspired numerous young artists. After more than 30 years of conducting abstract drawing courses at the Taipei National University of the Arts, the coming spring semester will be Yeh’s last school term before retiring from teaching. This exhibition also showcases some abstract drawings by three of the students in his class; furthermore, the course will take place here in the gallery during the exhibition period so as to keep cross-generational connections in the art world alive and kicking. As shown in the exhibition title, a semicolon is a mark that looks like a combination of a period and a comma, serving as a metaphor for how Yeh Chu-Sheng, with his profound life experiences as root, continues to use art to live an authentic life and communicate with the public, thus cultivating the self as well as nurturing creativity in new generations of artists.