界〉、〈發紅發青發紫的機械世界〉、〈起飛淡入而消失的異域〉……等，這和他外文系的學院背景，顯然有關。此外，在畫面的形式上，往往也帶著兒童畫般的童趣與戲謔，杜布菲(Jean Dubuffet,1901-1985)的反文明、反既定美學、滿溢原始真情的作品，以及米羅(Joan Miró i Ferrà,1893-1983)、柯爾達(Alexander Calder,1893-1956)純真、幻想的超現實意境，都是他最欣賞的對象；但在這些養分之外，他又加入某些民俗或佛學的理念、符號，因此，一度在畫面上出現較多具象的圖像或符號，即使如此，仍有如〈1966-5B〉(1966)這樣的作品，在幾何的黃色方塊之外，完全以類似毛筆的粗細線條，進行潛意識的遊走；李仲生強調追求「東方」藝術的用心，顯然仍是這位「外文系」出身的學生用心探索的方向。
80年代之後，作品趨向單純，除了標題完全走向以「無標題」的代碼方式，畫面的符號也趨於非指向性的，甚至只有純粹的肌理表現，如：1985年的〈85-T〉；同時，也加入拼貼和水墨的趣味，如：1986年的〈86-H〉。不過，鐘俊雄的創作風格，到底無法以單一的面貌拘限，他的創作，帶著頑童的心理，一日數變，別人既無法預測，自我也不願拘限；同樣是80年代，相對於前提二作，1987年又有〈87-5G〉這樣的作品，偏向內心的探討。他曾說：「我的創作，試圖追求生命中各種可能；我每天面對畫布時，就像蛇以它的腹部在粗礪沙灘間爬行，東彎西拐，探索沒人到過的未知之路。」(2013)果然，90年代之後，又有如〈年年有餘〉 (1993)這樣的作品，在紅、黑對比的強烈色彩中，映現出一盤白瓷碟上的雙魚，後有同樣圖形的反覆出現，甚至加入「年年有餘」、「歲歲平安」的對聯的，充滿年節的喜樂之情。而新世代之後，既有〈2011-5A〉(2011)、〈十字路聯想〉 (2014)這樣的強烈色彩、乃至帶著幾何圖案造型的作品，也有〈2012-2A〉(2012)、〈2012-2B〉(2012)這類淡雅、禪思的創作，長幅立軸的尺寸、黑、灰、淡黃、留白的色彩，仍是這位老頑童哲學家的一貫作為，不為形拘、不受限制。
Text / Hsiao Chong-Ray, Curator
Throughout the development of Taiwan’s modern painting movement, Taichung-based artist Chung Chun-Hsiung (1939-) has played diverse and crucial roles. After Chung became one of the first group of students taught by Li Chun-Shan after the art master moved from Taipei to Changhua’s Yuanlin in 1955, he was soon invited to join Ton Fan Art Group and Modern Printmaking Association, and joined the forces that facilitated the most crucial modern painting movement in post-war Taiwan in the 1960s.
In the 1980s, Li’s students from his later years founded Modern Eye Painting Association, for which Chung was an important supporter. Being both an artist and art critic, Chung is a “godfather-like” figure in leading and advocating the modern art movement in the great Taichung region, whose influence has touched many later artists. Chung’s work, which is informed with experimental qualities and child-like innocence, seems to tell this urchin-like senior artist’s youthful spirit and his life stories.
Born and raised in Taichung, Chung was recommended for admission into the senior high school department of Taichung First Senior High School when he graduated with excellent grades from the school’s junior high school department. Due to their conservative views, his parents naturally expected that this child, who were good at getting high grades, could one day get into the medical school and became an esteemed doctor in the future. However, this student who always got good grades became “a lover of good books” in the ninth grade. Having read an extensive amount of literary works, he dived into the world of literature and started dreaming about becoming an “artist.”
During his high school years, Chung first followed the footsteps of established artists to do outdoor sketches of scenic landscape. The students would always gather behind their painter teacher in front of the easel, learning about how to select the scene, apply colors and use of brush. After several years, the young artist felt confused and asked himself: “Is painting only a training of techniques or the representation of nature? Why can one look at Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and not feel bored? How can Matisse create such a colorful harmony? The stories of these art masters always tell us one thing: one must take off from underneath the teacher’s wing after the initial learning stage, and rely on one’s talents to diligently discover one’s unique art.”
The year (1957) that Chung entered Fu Jen University’s Department of English Language and Literature coincided with the year of Ton Fan Art Group’s first art exhibition. Chung eventually returned to Changhua, where he became Li Chun-Shan’s student and embarked on his quest of modern art.
Reminiscing the past, Chung stated that “there were two most important things about artistic creation I
learned when studying at Li Chun-Shan’s art studio. The first was getting a perspicuous understanding about world art history and Chinese art history, which gave me a clear idea of what art was and how Western and Asian art masters achieved their success. The second was the realization that one’s artistic achievement depended fully on oneself. Only talents, steadfast efforts, open-mindedness and international vision could enable one to formulate a unique style.” (2013)
In 1964, Chung was invited to join both Ton Fan Art Group and Modern Printmaking Association, and participated in their exhibitions. Huang Chao-Hu once praised Chung’s work, stating that Chung added the perseverance in his personality to a surreal foundation and revealed a highly individualistic expression and meaning. In the exhibition launched the next year (1965), Xiang Erh also complimented on Chung’s work, saying that his work was the most poetic, not only emphasizing on sensibility but also visualizing it.
In truth, Chung’s work has always been diverse and multifaceted, ranging from ink, oil, collage to pure expression of texture. He often asks himself, “what else can a painting offer besides formal beauty?” Therefore, he constantly looks for means to move beyond techniques and seek alternative expression. His works from the 60s and 70s often possessed literary titles, such as Coagulation, Legend of Lizards, Enclosed Tricolored World, A Mechanical World of Red, Green and Purple, Taking Flight into the Disappearing Strange Land, etc. This obviously beckons at a relation to his learning of foreign language and literature. Additionally, the form of paintings created by Chung often exudes a child-like innocence and playfulness. He draws inspiration from artists he admires, such as the primitive, genuine works by Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) that rebel against civilization and existing aesthetics as well as the pure, fantastic, surreal images created by Joan Miró i Ferrà (1893-1983) and Alexander Calder (1893-1956). Moreover, he also incorporates certain folk or Buddhist concepts and symbolism into these Western artistic influences. Therefore, his works sometimes contain more concrete images or symbols. Even so, there are still works like 1966-5B (1966), in which the delineation of the subconscious with thick and thin calligraphic lines is combined with geometric yellow blocks. Li Chun-Shan’s emphasis on pursuing the “Eastern” art has clearly pointed out a crucial direction of steadfast exploration for this student coming from a background of foreign language and literature.
After the 80s, Chung simplified his works and only named them “Untitled” with the addition of letters and codes. In the meantime, the symbols in his works also became non-signifying, and at times pure depiction of texture, such as 85-T created in 1985. Also, he began adding collage and ink expression into his work, for example, 86-H painted in 1986. However, Chung’s work still defied generalization and could not be contained within one single genre. His style exuded a sense of mischievousness and remains unpredictable with its various changes, as the artist himself refused to limit his art. Contrasting to the aforesaid two works created in the 80s, he also created 87-5G in 1987, which visualized his inner exploration. He once stated that “I tried to seek out all the possibilities in life through my work. When facing the canvas every day, it would slither through the sandy beach with its belly, zigzagging to explore the untrodden paths.” (2013) In the 90s, unsurprisingly, he also created works like Surplus Year After Year (1993), in which he portrayed two fish on a white porcelain dish amid vividly contrasting red and black, with similar images repeatedly dotting the background and a festive couplet – “surplus year after year” (年年有餘) and
“peacefulness year after year” (歲歲平安) – that conveyed the joy of Chinese New Year. After the new millennium, Chung created works such as 2011-5A (2011) and Association of Cross Road (2014), which revealed a combination of strongly vibrant colors and geometric shapes and forms. On the other hand, he also painted elegant and Zen-like paintings in the form of long vertical scrolls with black, gray, light yellow and blank space, such as 2012-2A and 2012-2B (2012). This mischievous yet philosophical artist has remained consistent in art-making, unbounded and unhindered by artistic forms and restraints.
Chung’s versatility has enabled him to engage in diverse and complex creative endeavors. In addition to oil painting and printmaking, he had joined the Sculpture Association of Taiwan, R.O.C. as early as 1967. At first, he mainly created wooden sculptures with an abstract, Zen expression. Later, he moved on to iron sculptures and created a large body of works in the 90s. After the implementation of the “percent-for-art” policy, he also created several public art projects.
While creating painting and sculpture, Chung was also an art critic. His insightful criticism and reviews gradually made him the spokesman of the modern art scene in central Taiwan. He has been even considered a mentor by the young generation of artists, implicitly continuing the lifelong mission of his own mentor, Li Chun-Shan. His mischievous, child-like personality allows him to maintain a harmonious relationship with others and makes him someone that many senior artists could rely on.
As the new century arrived, Chung now enters a new stage in life, in which he can be considered a “senior urchin”—a highly respected, wise one. He has received constant exhibition invitations that fuel him with a new wave of creative energy. He again starts giving literary titles to his work, which reveal a sense of maturity and inner composure.
In the preface to the exhibition catalogue of his exhibition at Taichung’s Chungyo Department Store at the end of 2013, entitled Origin．Life—Chung Chun-Hsiung Contemporary Art Exhibition, he makes the following statement: “having lived for seventy-five years, I have come to terms with the natural cycle of life. I hope to express all my feelings of living in Taiwan and on Earth with the unchanging nature of the self. As I get older, one thing has become clearer to me: the simpler things are harder to delineate; and the abstract inner realization is more challenging to make explicit. Among form and structure (rationality), I strive to pursue the original nature of the self—the origin of life.”
In 2020, seven years after the Taichung exhibition and the year to celebrate his eighty-second birthday, Chini Gallery is presenting an exhibition featuring Chung new works, which validates this senior artist’s youthful mind and spirit. The passing years have only enriched his life stories without even diminishing a bit of his great zest for life. With his colorful brush, the artist still invites all his friends to drink up this mellow cup of wine called life.