“Concrete Poetry” Song Sheau-Ming Solo Exhibition
2022.11.26 – 2023.01.08
克里斯多夫‧庫克 Christopher Cook
Professor of Painting, and Gallery Curator, University of Plymouth
• 12/04 SUN
15:00 策展人與藝術家對談 Artist Talk
Christopher Cook x 宋曉明
• 12/11 SUN
16:00 專家對談 Artist Talk
陳貺怡 (國立台灣藝術大學美術學院院長) x 宋曉明
Curator / Christopher Cook
展覽之名「具象詩」，援引自一場文學運動。該運動與抽象表現主義，均於 1950 年代獲得關注；讓文字的視覺效果凌駕於字面意義，企圖擴大語言的概念界線，正如宋曉明關注的是如何擴展其繪畫範圍。展覽名稱更進一步表彰的，是宋曉明作品內美學與智識的真切連結，以虛構形式表現出畫室生活中具體的現實：純亞麻布、土質顏料、純白底漆與紙膠帶。紙膠帶意指過程，並提醒了觀者，所有藝術都是幻象、是正在過渡的圖像，其不可預測性、或說不確定性，乃是一種魔幻的特質。
Sheauming Song: Concrete Poetry
The arresting elegance of these recent paintings by Sheauming Song is both visual and conceptual. In their stark simplicity and veneration of material qualities, the paintings delight the eye, yet on closer acquaintance a philosophical intensity arises to give the works their distinctive presence. That the artist’s studio informs his subject matter is precisely because it provides the malleable tools of his visual philosophy, just as common words challenge the poet to transform the familiar into a means of eloquent expression. From this grounding in the ‘concrete’ emerges the lean poetry of Song’s images.
The exhibition title, Concrete Poetry, is appropriated from a literary movement which gained traction in the 1950s. It prioritised the visual effect of words over literal meaning and so sought to expand the conceptual ambit of language, just as Song is concerned with expanding painterly range. The title more importantly recognises in these works a telling conjunction of the aesthetic and intellectual, with the concrete realities of studio life: raw linen, earth pigments, blank-white ‘primer’ and masking tape – in fictional form. The tape signifies process, and reminds the viewer that all art is an illusion, an image in transition, its unpredictability or uncertainty a magical property.
Song resists comparisons with the minimalist Barnet Newman, but masking tape is a common fascination, and Newman’s interest in philosophy, and his inclination to constantly reflect on his paintings, suggests parallels. The connection is less one of visual resonance than of philosophical standpoint, as suggested by Newman’s declaration, “I hope that my painting has the impact of giving someone, as it did me, the feeling of his own totality, of his own separateness, of his own individuality and the same time of his connection to others, who are also separate”.
This idea of separateness is picked up in Song’s astute use of the diptych and polyptych form, and the small gaps he insists upon within them. Separateness is also developed as a potent theme to evoke notions of repair, healing and unity in these divisive times. In Between, the illusion of masking tape appears to hold the two slabs of colour together as they threaten to slide apart, thus suggesting a kind of stitch, whilst in the vertical diptych Juli, the masking tape suggests an attempt to hold the canvasses together has ultimately proved in vain. The work Lovers, displayed in its own room, provides a profound vison of separate togetherness. Meanwhile, the title of Metaphor challenges the viewer to deduce what metaphor is intended. The calm minimalism of the upper section is predicated upon a ‘process of becoming’ at the base, in which actual masking tape has been repeatedly used to allow the artist to test a variety of possible tones, colours, angles and rhythms. This intricate substructure is the foundation on which the concrete statement, and playful tapes, of the upper section depend, suggesting that the metaphor is for the act of creation itself, creation not as sudden enlightenment, but a process of testing and of resolving.
This exhibition captures Sheauming Song playing down his irreverent delight in subversive realism in favour of a closer relationship between underlying image and surface illusion. The significant change is partly due to the minimalist genre Song examines, which has the effect of reducing the level of irony in favour of a subtler dialogue. Perhaps more surprisingly, from within the philosophical rigour, the change has allowed authentic themes of healing and of resolution to emerge, to give these works a newfound intimacy.