Autumn Blossom

October 24, 2015-November 29, 2015

Artist / Peng Kang-Long

Text / Hao Yu-Hsiang (Professor of NTUE, Department of Language & Creative Writing)

The paintings by Peng Kang-Long evoke ambiguous and indescribable sensations. The more his works are explained though reason, the more they lose their ability to elicit imagination.

These ambiguous and indescribable sensations are the product of two contradicting themes within Peng’s paintings. In this series of works, Peng repeatedly explores the contradictory theme between flower and stone. After all, don’t flowers and stones stand in stark contrast to one anther? One is beautiful, while the other is solid. One is fragrant, while the other is static. A flower’s bloom is transitory, while a stone lasts forever. As seen in his previous works, Peng juxtaposes the two, and imbues them with new meanings and emotions. As a result, two opposite qualities complement each other, just like ying and yang.

Therefore, Peng’s work’s always evoke a sense of “risk” as if each of his brushstrokes are like a mid-air walk on a tightrope: one false step by the artist, and one brushstroke could ruin the entire work.

However, it is exactly this “risk’ that makes his work so great. How is it possible that Peng’s control of the brush can be so precise? The flower paddles he paints are enchanting and filled with life. It is as if each vibrant paddle is calling out to and flirting with the viewer. However, upon closer inspection, they appear shriveled and dispirited, as if about to wither under the cold and disappear after leaving one last waft of aroma.

Extraordinary palpitations are all that exist. All beauty is transitory and destined to meet their demise.

The theme of “swirls” cannot be more fitting for this exhibition. Here, swirls are more than a light, fleeting motion. The line and ink appear defined, but also appear to move in a quivering way, drawing out tremulous moods and delicate emotions in people. It might seem like you give birth to a type of illusion, causing a misperception that the painting is alive. The flowers, mountains, stones, clouds, and fog all seem to be slightly resisting the gravitational pull of the paper. Lightly dispersed, yet also like the shadow of flowers during the “cloud breaking month”, a slight breeze passes through the paper amidst the passage of time.

The swishing flow of air penetrates through the gaps among flowers, leaves, stones, and mountain ridges, much like the endless yet calm inhalation and exhalation of a person’s breath.

This is the Zen meaning, Taoist thought, and Eastern aesthetics hidden within the background of Peng’s paintings. However, he chooses another technique rather than follow the blank space compositions of traditional ink paintings. At first glance, Peng seems to fill up every corner of the paper with a wild passion that suggests random brushstrokes, but is actually the result of careful observation. This “fullness” is due to the linking of countless “falsities”. Between every brushstroke, there is a small space and gap formed that provides “flower” and “stone” with the possibility and room to swirl.

Falseness and truth, dynamic and static, yin and yang all coexist harmoniously in Peng’s paintings. Even after having received comprehensive academy training in Western art, he has chosen to return his focus to Eastern thought in his mid-age years. Amidst the swirling flow of flower and stone, and endless cycle of light and dark, he not only constructs a painting, but also brings a sense of calm to his body and soul.

Text / Chang Kuo-chuen

A period of two years separates the two exhibitions Verdure and Swirling Flowers and Stones. My old friend, Peng Kang-Long, spent this time exploring flowers in his creative endeavours. During this period, he, like myself, also turned fifty, giving him a broader perspective in life. It is not that we cease to care. It is just that with our age we feel a sense of carefree relief.

For a painter, painting is a form of communication. Every painter has their own unique way of communicating. Peng’s works appear fragmented and continuous. They are like novels that do not have endings. And, even if there was an ending, the artist himself wouldn’t have thought of it until the very end.

This holds true for writing, and even more so for painting. Grass waving in a breeze, a flower giving off a subtle fragrance, and clouds freely drifting in the air can all have an element of surprise to them. Every cloud has a silver lining; stars hang level in broad space; the moon rushing forward in the river's flow. Even the artist cannot help but be surprised of his ability to create paintings with such vivid imagery. It is as if he had divine assistance while creating them.

Xin Mu once said: “Elegance lies on the verge of vulgarity. Too much elegance is vulgar.” To overdo this is a common mistake by artists nowadays. Or, it can be said that their works become pretentious.

In regards to this, the maniac Peng is bold, yet not too bold. After all, he has been adamant about maintaining his personal discomfort. His paintings are spontaneous, whimsical, without hesitation, fresh, easy, graceful, wild, unconventional and full of joy.

Peng is unconventional as an artist who practices traditional ink and wash painting. I like to compare him to two Vienna Secession artists, Gustav Klimt (1862~1918) and Egon Schiele (1890~1918), since their unique styles imbue a strong sense of character and emotion.

We used the flowers Klimt and Schiele painted a century ago as a control group for Western art to view the new ink painting by Peng. Lining up the paintings by these three artists, you will find that the desires and emotions for flowers of these three extremely perceptive artists share a similar code: tangled, wound up, stacked, fondled, and filled with charm and boundless dreams….

This painting is just like an enchanting flower bed. Gazing at the peduncle provides the same sensations as sliding your hand over a pale neck. Shifting your view to the sepal, petals, corolla, and then stamen is just like pressing your face, lips, and tongue against hers. Or, simply just sticking one’s face, lips, and tongue into her…. And this is just foreplay. The top of the stamen and stigma is full of pollen anxious to burst from the crevices. You gently breathe into her ear, scattering suddenly and filling the paper with drunk flowers.

Yet, the mystical stones of “beautiful, thin, wrinkled, transparent, and ugly” are just symbols for himself, as a companion, confidante, or solid embrace for beauty (flower). Hard and stubborn stone actually has a softer side. This is a rare transformation for the middle-aged Peng. It also serves as stable source of emotional sustenance for him.

This is what makes Peng’s works spanning Verdure and Swirling Flowers and Stones so charming. In fact, his paintings have the ability to make one fall in love with him.

However, Peng, an Aries, also suffers from quirks that all artists suffer from: he can be cocky, self-centered, impulsive, careless, hypercritical, sarcastic, emotional. He also has a tendency to curse a lot when he in a bad mood. Therefore, it is appropriate to say that only those who do not know Peng personally will fall in love with him upon see his paintings!

  • Installation View
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