FU: The Art of Yuan Jai
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FU: The Art of Yuan Jai

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FU: The Art of Yuan Jai googleMap連結 Gallery 101 

Event Details

About the Exhibition

FU: The Art of Yuan Jai
Date: 2022.4.23-2022.7.24
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Friday: 09:00-17:00, Saturday and Sunday: 09:00-18:00
Venue: Gallery 101
Curator: Catherine David


FU: The Art of Yuan Jai” is held at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and curated by Catherine David, a former senior curator at the Centre Pompidou. The exhibition gives a comprehensive view of the works that Yuan Jai created during her over-six-decade career as a painter, highlighting changes in the artist’s creative style and her most defining pieces.

Yuan Jai was born in 1941 in Chongqing, Sichuan, and moved to Taiwan with her family in 1947. Yuan Jai’s father, Yuan Shou-Chien, was among the important military and political personnel that accompanied the Nationalist Government’s relocation to Taiwan. Yuan Shou-Chien was also a calligrapher and art collector with sophisticated artistic learning who had a profound impact on her daughter’s work. In 1958, Yuan enrolled in the Taiwan Provincial Normal University Department of Art (currently the National Taiwan Normal University Department of Fine Arts), majoring in Chinese painting, and received the tutelage of several guohua (Traditional Chinese Painting) masters, including Pu Hsin-Yu, Huang Chun-Pi, Chin Chin-Po, and Lin Yu-Shan, while also learning western painting techniques under the likes of Liao Chi-Chun and Chen Huei-Kun. Yuan later enrolled in the Université Catholique de Louvain and the Institut Royal du Patrimoine Artistique (IRPA) in Belgium for her master’s and doctorate, subsequently obtaining degrees in art history, archeology, and art conservation; she even proceeded to the British Museum for an internship. After returning to Taiwan, Yuan worked for a total of over 20 years at the National Palace Museum, where she immersed herself in the artifacts and treasures of Chinese culture; she later defined this as her period of “dedication and re-learning.” Yuan never stopped practicing calligraphy and was finally able to devote herself entirely to her creative practice when she was over 40 years old, holding her first solo exhibition in 1993. Yuan’s artistic training and her knowledge as a cultural professional allowed her works to feature styles that manifested her past as an individual and the characteristics of the times, and her singular artistic vision is inspired by her upbringing, the education she received, her rich cultural experiences, and academic training.

Yuan Jai’s early ink paintings were created on paper and imitated the styles of Chinese landscape paintings. Later, Yuan applied heavy colors to silk, which marked her new creative period in terms of composition and style. Yuan’s works have always showcased the integration of classical and innovative artistic elements, roaming freely between traditional literati paintings and depictions of worldly sceneries that are detached from the limitations of time and space. Yuan’s works pair delicate, graceful gongbi (meticulous brush technique) methods and colors prominent in Chinese paintings with the geometric, decorative composition and dynamic lines of Art Nouveau. The works showcased in this exhibition traverse the 1958 ink work Practice drawing of the Five Oxen by Han Huang, which was painted as a practice when she was studying at the National Taiwan Normal University Department of Fine Arts, to her latest, 2021 work Fu (Rhapsody). Yuan’s 63-year career brings to mind the oxen in her paintings, progressing steadily from the classics: emerging from the lineage of ancient paintings and metamorphosing into contemporary imageries. Yuan gains inspiration from the classics while continuing to achieve breakthroughs, giving new life to her works.

The “fu” in the exhibition title refers to the unique genre in Chinese literature. Defined somewhere between poetry and prose, fu emphasizes the description of sceneries as a channel for expressing sentiments and gives prominence to literary finesse, rhythm, and tempo. Another feature of fu is its detailed descriptions and narratives and the intricacy and glamour in its references and wording, manifesting the qualities of both poetry and prose, epitomizing the rhetoric and rhythm of the former and the free, unrestrained nature of the latter. Fu is a gateway to exploring the rich artistic connotations of the exhibition and illustrates the juxtaposition and intertwinement between poetry, calligraphy, and painting in the works of Yuan Jai. In Yuan’s paintings, lines, colors, and images layer and aggregate, simultaneously depicting the mindscape and outer sceneries while inspiring imaginations towards tangible form and intangible sentiments. In the works, poetry, calligraphy, and painting complement each other, referencing historical and cultural undertones as well as ruminations of everyday life, integrating traditional culture into the pulsations of living and the world, embedding the density and richness of history into the spontaneous, breezy pace of the mundane.


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