Spontaneous Trips-solo exhibition by Chen-Liang CHOU

Date /2018/2/3 ~ 2018/3/18
Reception /2018/2/3 PM3:00~5:00
Artist /Chou Cheng-Liang

Dream Land Nearby Us ── A Collection of Spontaneous Trips by CHOU, Cheng-Liang

■Hsiao, Chong-Ray

Chou, Cheng-Ling (1969-) is an artist who used to make pulp and installation as the primary creation media and techniques in his early time. Then, his focus has turned on oil painting creation and the first solo exhibition for the plane works were held in 2002, that a visual perspective which that seems to be held by bystanders but also with some kind of autobiographical feature became the most attractive characteristics.

After graduating from the department of fine art in National Institute of Art (Taipei National University of the Arts) in 1994, Chou’s collection of “Balcony” made by pulp was recommended by his instructor, Mr. Yeh, Chu-Sheng to be selected as one of the exhibitors in the “South Taiwan New Style Biennale” which was a group famous for abstract and medium properties. Then, his installation techniques made him become one of the original members of VT Artsalon. Then, in 2000s, he turned to painting works. Although there were many turning points in his art history, he still continuously reflects and explores his growth history.

When he was born in 1969, the astronauts made the first spaceflight that landed on the moon and the Modern Painting Movement in Taiwan led by the Fifth Month Art Group and Dong Fang Group almost came to an end. His father, a former soldier, moved to Taiwan along with the troop. After he retired from the military, he married with a woman lived in Changhua and then finally settled down in Yonghe, Taipei City. When Chou, Cheng-Ling was in the fifth grade of the primary school, his father died and left him and his mother alone.

The story of his father is the core of his creative thinking. After he graduated in Taipei National University of the Arts in 1994, he traveled to Xi’an, China to look for where his father’s life began, then heading to Loess Plateau of northwest China where he could explored the cradle of Chinese civilization. He sketched down the house cave where Xi’an people live and referred to the book “From the Soil – The Foundations of Chinese society written by the Chinese sociologist in the U.S., Fei, Xiao-Tong, in an attempt to understand the place where his father grew up in.

At the same time, Chou also visited the city where his mother came from – Changhua, an unfamiliar city in central Taiwan, to explore and image the story and scenery of the other half of his life origin.

His painting collection of 2002, “Stories of Houses and Homes” was a projection of homes, seeming to be familiar but unfamiliar at the same time. He used high-angle shot to present the painting of living room where were furniture only to transmit the melancholy loneness of ever existence which had gone. The present technique of this collection has changed from three-dimensional art works to two-dimensional art works. The themes and implications of the art works, however, were extended and turned from the last collection of “Balcony.”

In 2003, he graduated from the graduate institute of plastic arts of Tainan National University of the Arts where he met Hsiao Chin of Dong Fang Group. With encouragement and instruction from Hsiao, he confirmed more himself to develop his painting professional.

Tainan is another ancient, cultural city in Taiwan. After his graduation of the graduate education, he stayed in Tainan for a while to cruise and observe the city. He would spend entirely morning, afternoon, or even a whole day to look at, take photos, and sketch a wall by roadside, stand on the balcony to look at the roof of his neighbors, to see the houses and the sky from a park. These sceneries had neither expressions nor any symbolic meaning at all. However, the immature, plain techniques and compressed, short figures are Chou’s own characteristics.

He joined many exhibitions almost without any interruptions, including solo exhibitions and jointed exhibitions. It is a rhythm of professional painting artist that he created an theme collection every one or two year, including “The Third Village in Chunhe” (2004), “The March” (2005), “Vernacular Script of Wang Family” (2008), “Easy Trips” (2009), “Journey to Search Monsters” (2009), etc. Painting, for Chou is the only way to experience and realize life, as he commented:

“Some images are unforgettable,

I am not sure their substantial meaning and underlying implications,

but I just remember it.

Sometimes I would change it or delete it accidentally,

that lost its position – its mysterious core.

If I could keep them,

bringing them in the studio to create it with efforts

in the process, I will face, both overall and partial problems of

painting tones, techniques, performance, etc.


it is not easy but worth to do it.”

In 2010, he moved to Sanyi, Miaoli County, where his wife came from. Being a start of new life, the theme of his paintings changed from city to the nature, even the combination of city and the nature, when the following theme collections were presented: “New Plants” (2011), “Living in Urban” (2011), “City of Mountain and Water” (2011), “Journey and Time in Here” (2012), “Seven Days of A Week” (2013), “Hakka People to the Mountains” (2015), “Fruits, Stones, Forests and Houses” (2016), and “Travel Diaries” (2017).

“Spontaneous Trips,” a new theme collection of his solo exhibition in 2018, presents few topics of his home, villages in country areas and travel diaries.

Around in 2013, Chou began to build his house in Sanyi. This is also the first time that his family built their homeland since his father’s migration. The land where was appreciated and observed before, now it becomes the existence closed to life. The collection of “Hakka People to the Mountains” in 2015 was the creative results of the situation. He commented in his self-description, “when the first time I read the five words of ‘Hakka People to the Mountains,’ it is very interesting for me. I can comprehend multiple levels of implications and scenes in my mind, which respond to my experience in recent years.” And added, “Hakka people’s migration to the mountains can be categorized from two directions, one from Bali and Tamsui and the other one from Sanyi. The intersection of time and space is people-environmental relationship that taught me to paint.”

“Spontaneous Trips” can be seen as the extension and development of “Hakka People to the Mountains.” The rootless family fate finally settled down in the home town of his wife. Even though he had been through drifting between several places, finding his roots, feeling disturbed and lonely, his life finally connects to the land. Now, he is no longer a guest to the mountains, but an owner of his house where he can freely walk in the garden of his house. He further commented:

“I always say that Sanyi is the home land of my wife

where you can see many roads across in the mountains.

Of the mountains, you can find different scenes every time you make a turn. There are traditional houses where showed Hakka people migration history

as well as newly-built houses, a dream land of urban people

There are also people who yearn for mysterious devotional religious beliefs.

All of the sceneries are compressed in the mountains

just like the sceneries in the landscape paintings.”

Without the magical layout that used to see in his paintings, there is a far, deep realistic layout. Trees become the theme of the paintings, levels of trees overlapping with each other, full of energy and hope. And there are people walking freely in the woods, like jogging, riding bikes, picnicking, swimming, visiting friends, and waving to friends. Life is wonderful and satisfying. The figure of people is not as short and fat as before. The paintings are sometimes bright, full of sunshine and sometimes mist, surrounded by mountains and fog. In the woods, there found paths, waterfalls, ponds, …sometimes long-tail magpies flying over, sometimes seasonal fruits and flowers adorn the woods, like persimmons, peaches, plums, pines, chrysanthemums, and camellia. This is a livable and pleasurable dream land.

That’s right. Obviously, Chou’s living scenes have returned to the traditional landscape of Chinese paintings. However, with oil painting, the scenes stepped into the realistic world of fantasy, an ideal dream land and sanctuary. This situation was from the cultural nutrition to his father as well as the life scene of his mother. His paintings are intended to repeat the steps and emotions of his parents have.

In addition to oil paintings, this collection of “Spontaneous Trips” also includes ink and color paintings, in an attempt to portrait how to turn the nature image of mountains and woods into abstract thinking and how to realize abstract thinking into visual images. The efforts made by ancestors are the same with the operation by Chou to realize his deep memories of life.

“Spontaneous trips” is a new word created by the exchange cooperation of the cross-strait. Tourists from China, used to joined travel packages, now can have their spontaneous trips in Taiwan with the new political measurement after the lift of the cross-strait relationship. “Spontaneous trips” also represent a free, independent spirit as well as the settlement of life.

Chou, regarded by the traditional Taiwanese as the second generation from China, the pull and push between drifting and recognition is the main tone of his life. Now, he followed his wife and settled down in his wife’s home land. By building their house together, the mountains are the dream land nearby them, that is, Dawuo Mountain, Bamboo Building, Chestnut Hill, Twin Lake, and Hidden Lake.■