It’s been three full decades, yet it feels less than a flash. Metaphysical Art Gallery began in the art history of Taiwan and walks into international contemporary art; on this endless journey of art, each turning point is a new beginning. 210 exhibitions went through like time flowing with the images on screen, one after another. Played backwards, they are carved with youth, recording all that was once the incredible shape of art as well as its voice beyond imagination.
In October, 1989, the exhibition of painter Chen De-wang and A Digital Archive of Taiwan Art Center History saw the debut of Metaphysical Art Gallery. With this effort we combed through Taiwanese art history over the past hundred years: artists like Huang Tu-Shui, Liao Chi-Chun, Chen Cheng-po, and Kuo Po-chuan, their styles and the contexts of their works. We also visited the studios of artists across generations. It was a pure and groundbreaking time. We worked with the artists; together we broke new grounds and marched down a glorious path. Such has always been our stubborn wish. We also discovered artists outside of the mainstream circle, those extraordinary artists who stood outside of the market for their own reasons: Kuo Po-chuan, Wang Pan Youn, Chen Chi-Kwan, and so on. Their art compels us to glorify their passages with no reservation.
History always leaves its traces. In this free and open age, the works of Li Ke Ran, Wu Guan-zhong and Lin Feng Mian lead our way from this land, through the abolishment of Martial Law and contemporary arts, toward China, Post Pop, and international contemporary arts. The farther we go, the more ambitious we have become. We aspire to leave some legacies in the history of arts, and it’s been a temptation that we, with our romantic souls, can never resist. A century flew by in a glimpse, and those memories travel faster than light. Such is how we hosted exhibitions like “Chronicle: Tamsui Arts, 1910-1991,” “Mountain Township of Gold: One Hundred Years of Jiufen, 1890-1993,” “Arts in Tua-Tiu-Tiann, 1890-1995,” “Sun of the South, Red of Chikanlou: One Hundred Years of Kuo Po-chuan” and “In Pursuit of Solar Perfection: Revisiting Wang Pan Youn of Ninety Years”. A century of culture and art compels us to follow the traces of time and enrich our trivial life. We plant the seed of a big tree of imagination, awaiting its maturity and fruition in the future.
“God has the script ready a long time ago; we just follow it and play along,” Liu Max once said. We invited Wang Pan Youn to return to the art scene, twelve years after his initial retirement, and we published his memoir with the title inspired from Liu’s words, “God’s script.” At a time of turbulence and displacement, two persons of similar age and with similar hardships in life, they, with their own personalities and determinations, ended up leading two different lives and trajectories in art. Wang’s script tells a bitter story, where his memories became his life-long yearnings. As his journey came to an end, what Wang accomplished was a proud spirit marked with solitude, which added to the charisma of mystery in his paintings.
As for Jang Tarng-Kuh, we waited for six years, after his college graduation, his military service, and his return from study overseas in France, before we could finally host his first solo exhibition “Sphere of the Real and the Unreal”. It was also at that time that we spent six years to observe the waves of international arts for our transition that was bound to happen. With assistance from curators like Kim Sunhee and Victoria Yung-chih Lu and with amazing international artists, our exhibition “3L4D – 3rd Life 4th Dimension” opened a new vision in arts for Taiwanese audiences; it also created a genuine venue of communication for Japanese and Korean artists. The popular storm triggered by Kusama Yayoi and Yoshitomo Nara expanded our art market like a miracle; it proved our professional vision and resolution. It’s our mission to always be a step ahead of the trend; it’s also our hopeless vanity and the pride for who we are and what we do.
Yet it’s another time of great changes. Galleries are moving eastward from the West; on the international stage, the operation of art business is far beyond just interest-driven. The world becomes smaller, and who knows whom we’d run into in the next second; and further down the path, heaven knows who may be missing on the way. And this is how we encountered Choe U-Ram with full surprises. After yet another long wait with pleasure, for ten years this time, Choe’s solo exhibition “Anima Machine” at National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, in 2016, composed a dreamy and fantastic mysterious space where the future world has been long waiting in the past. And yet once more, one turns around and discovers Bahk Seon Ghi’s charcoal sculpture reborn, again and again, in its primitive purity.
This exhibition “Salon of an Art Collector” displays all the deafening wonders in Taiwan’s as well as Asia’s art histories; they are divided in sections that the exhibition site looks like the master room of a collector. The artists and their works, those we’ve collaborated with and those that have pushed us to persist and march forward over the past three decades, here we proudly present them in the art collector’s salon. Kuo Po-chuan’s grand “Imperial Palace” shows the vermillion walls and halls, one against another, reminiscing its past glories under the green shades. Or as in Liao Chi-Chun’s “Garden in the Courtyard,” we see sunlight like broken colored glasses, enchanting the flowers; all the splendid colors of the flower blossom are splashed all over the ground into a visual wonder. On the other hand, Chen Cheng-po’s “West Huifang” paints the soul of Taiwanese folk lifestyle, bringing us back to that quiet and serene afternoon: vendors under the trees, stores by the road, hospitals, fashionable women on the streets, and the modest figure with the loads on the shoulder. Should you try harder, you would hear the whispers from the teahouse upstairs; such is Chen’s Chiayi landscape, the most touching picture he left behind. And with all the touches of the soul in his “Toward Taiwan across the Ocean”, Wu Tien-Chang portrays the elder master with thick paint and heavy, simple strokes to depict the lightness and weight of the time.
Art theater has constantly seen dazzling and ever-changing magic; “Salon of an Art Collector” witnesses the times of arts and the incitement as well as the choices they trigger. All existences shall be collected when the time comes, and everyone creates history in their own time. “Time is a great author, she can write the end of the future,” says Charlie Chaplin. The past is never forgotten, and the future is ongoing. On the road of art, people come and people go; only those that endure through the test of time can last forever. It goes with the artists; so does the galleries.