- JUN .T. LAI 2021 SOLO EXHIBITION
JUN .T. LAI 2021 SOLO EXHIBITION
- Jun T. Lai's Artist Statement
- Splendent Light in Wonderland Curatorial Statement
Spring Day in Wonderland
Jun T. Lai's Artist Statement
This solo exhibition at Moon Gallery is divided into 3 exhibit rooms, and accordingly via 3 distinct series, it leads the audience to my consistent aesthetic belief and my creative context over 40 years. Within the past 20 years in particular, having moved to Dulan, Taitung, I took elements from natural landscapes of the mountain and the ocean into my own works, and so demonstrated 3 kinds of revelation from the Nature—hope of a new era, new hometown Identification and new experience of life. Through the encounter between these themes and the beauty of love in one’s heart, I could sense my artistic fertility and creativity overflow.
Island Country on the Ocean Series
“And, if the soul is about to know itself, it must gaze into the soul.”
—Plato, Symposium (Alcibiades 133b)
In my dreams, water flows and glitters unrestrictedly, the colors embrace the light’s gaze, and the soul is presented in every hidden means. Colors and lights dance and glimmer; a soft breeze listens openly, as the moonlight finds a home in the eye of its beholder.
It was 1985 when I started to use acrylic as a material for my creation. The transparent texture of acrylic is like crystalized water, or a sheet of light. To turn colors into lithe fairies that dance freely and independently, and find them the most appropriate expressive platform, I endeavor to express the freeness and the simplicity of colors. Hence, light becomes a visible thing because of its medium; through light, the spacial limits of materiality are wiped out, and in the two-dimensional medium appears a transcendent dimension. Boundaries are abolished and gravity conditions cancelled. Because of the presence of light, the materiality of the carrier disappeared; light and shadow are no longer just circumstantial, they are now completely interwoven together with the carrier. And thus a new, spacial aesthetics was born, which has subverted the unity and the staleness of subject, and cancelled the gravity of this material world—when light and shadow become swift objects, and unbounded, limitless beings that exist in an actual moment of time.
Ultimately, I have turned my focus on Taiwan as I make local mindset and environmental concern main themes of my works. Like the life of a dragonfly which lives under the water in its aquatic larval stage, till it can finally fly into the sky after eclosion as an adult dragonfly—I consider this process a metaphor for Taiwan. As the island of Formosa on the Pacific Ocean, Taiwan also awaits its emergence, that it may break through the current repression, soar into the realm of freedom, and play its full part in this world. Taiwan, the island of Youth, is surrounded by the ocean , which expands our imaginations. Using coated stainless steel and solid lens as media, with paints dripping on them, I attempt to make the Ocean the object that is being seen in my works, whilst the land—that is, the island—is the subject, in which perspective we see. By this perspective, and by arranging faint display lighting and atmosphere at the exhibition site—via overlaying a light on another, mirroring the key lights or scattering them—I attempt to hint at the identity issue of an island nation on the ocean.
I first participated in making public art in 1988, and I have since then acquired a deeper awareness of the reality of—and dreams about—our existential state. Living in a nation on the waters, we strive to connect, reach out and, simultaneously, gaze into our own identity. In the clouds we look for a context where we belong, forming our aesthetics of the ocean realms amidst energy transformation and a connection to a context on the waters. As I search for freedom and independence by arranging colors and lights, this natural aesthetic of de-ideologicalization is thus shown. Through this process of refining my artistic languages—which serves as my spiritual redemption of the current existential state—I seek this aesthetic of the ocean realms, in a context on the waters. Existence and alteration are like the journey of life—as if one floats slowly on the waters; during wanderings and searches they may look up at the stars, look at their own reflection, or shift their focus and pace, when one gazes at the world with a unique perspective, as if they are seeing their own naked body.
“Light is treated not so much as an inert factor as a living element, fully capable of entering into and of assisting the cycle of metamorphoses.”
—Henri Focillon, The Life of Forms in Art (Vie des formes)
Shiny Love Series
These painted dots shine and express themselves. The sun rises because of love, the air smells fragrant because of love. Because of love, one may exist in another’s mind; and because of love, the universe unfolds itself for my sake.
Constantly, an artist’s exploration of their media and their personal development of taste lead to a journey of their inner soul, and eventually, to a consciousness of and meditations on the condition of human life as well as humanistic energies. In my works over the years, color serves both as a main subject and a medium. By using the language of colors, I demonstrate a spirit of freedom and the idea of light, placing emphasis on the intuitiveness and expressions in the colors themselves, and bring the audience a visual delight and comfort for the soul. I created Shiny Love series by tinting and dripping transparent, acrylic paint on smooth, glossy mirror sheets, which formed numerous combinations of paint drops that tightly gather and shimmer under the reflection of light—and thus produced the images of colors and lights which display a thousand different looks as their audience moves or shifts their viewpoint.
These works are neither abstract nor representational; yet they could be simultaneously abstract and representational. For they present the dialectic between abstraction and representation, and simultaneously show the encapsulation of media and their visual accessibility. By this dialogue between visual perspective and mind, Shiny Love series communicates an idea of meliorism with aesthetic value—that love, in itself, is power.
Standing in the Spring: The 24 Solar Terms Series
Standing in the Spring: The 24 Solar Terms is a series I painted consecutively after moving to Dulan, Taitung from an urban area. This series reveals an aesthetic universe of both body and spirit, between daily life and our outer environment. The diverse variety and the marginal features of Dulan—which consist of fluid, unrestricted, independent, and striking characteristics, and an aura of island and the ocean area that deeply fascinates me—beckoned me to come at the beginning of the millennium. Not only did this boost a Bohemian energy and personality in me, it also kindled a vivid thought in me: to connect with this local culture of island and the ocean by building a home of a new era, that is, my own wonderland of artistic creations. Everything in Nature operates organically according to natural law and the way of universe; what I do is absorb in it and follow its lead. The core of these paintings is a pure, personal catharsis which reflects the picture of wonderland in my own mind.
I decided to take this residence opportunity in 2007 because of Dulan's heterogeneity, diversity and marginal quality. As American feminist scholar “bell hooks” said, “A margin is more than a site of deprivation. It is also the site of radical possibility, a space of resistance… It offers to one the possibility of radical perspective from which to see and create, to imagine alternatives, new worlds.”
Therefore, I present a fraction of new worlds in Standing in the Spring: The 24 Solar Terms, which is like a spring day in wonderland.
Jun T. Lai
March 1, 2021