The Choice Between Dwelling and World
Written by Enkaryon-Ang
As the minutes tick away, life is like a glistening light of waves leaving traces in space time after time. In the works of Wen Meng-Yu, standing waves of daily life are always carefully preserved in the scene. Just like a footpath with peaches and plums, shadows cannot bury the footpath which people walked on. The body routinized creates the reproduction of space. Even if this kind of space is in the absence of protagonist, of interaction of characters, you can still find a script in all the objects of space and discover the limited possible social relationship. Image replaces reality, dominates the competition and the compromise between reason and emotion. If we follow the views of Chris Shilling, consider further the works of Meng-Yu to be a performance. Through the Corporeal Realism proposed by Chris to deliberate about the interaction of body and technique, he emphasizes that the space contains all the rules which limit the body and the force of physical operation. The absence of body is a significant feature in Meng-Yu’s works, but the absence also let us imagine the body that can be reproduced by the society behind the theme of the paintings. This time, in Meng-Yu’s new exhibition “Circumstance”, coincidentally, the root of circumstance- circu, that means surround, also echoes with Corporeal Realism. Whether it discusses habit, physical space, or disciplinary of space, the external space has in fact never shaped simply and one-way our body. Body leaves the interaction, the law formed with adaptation, so that the surroundings constructed by windows, beds, tables and chairs show to viewers a monologue of social life.
This reminds me that, once in a poem of Adonis responding to Amichai, it says:
“ And the world is choice.
I choose neither God nor Satan.
Each is a wall.
Each closes my eyes.
Why replace one wall by another,
when my perplexity is the perplexity of the light-giving,
the perplexity of the all-knowing?”
Face to the space enclosed by walls in Wen Meng-Yu’s works, we can be like the poet Adonis and ask pointedly: “ Why the works must “choose” this kind of living space? Why the desire of western-style space is shown? Or that, in most house spaces of Taiwan, wallpaper is not particularly common. Wallpaper essentially implies some particular social class, and the wall paintings of serigraphy direct to what kind of illusion? In the history of Taiwan, the great mess fervor of real estate in 70’s has also promoted the development of wallpaper industry, which kind of great boom in the past are those ordered lines telling us? It is possibly connected to the emotion and the desire of the artist. The viewer standing in front of the works of the exhibition also has his/her own private glowing confusion in mind?
Through the layout of indoor furniture, in the multi-angled composition of Wen Meng-Yu, these furniture items not only compose the furnishings in the paintings. If we return to Wen Meng-Yu’s painting process, serigraphy forms gradually the simulation to wall, and Meng-Yu draws further a variety of home furnishings in the painting space composed by walls. In figurative and abstract poles, these furnishings in the paintings present the layout of abstract objects. On the one hand, although the painting image shows the functions of traditional artistic simulation, the painting objects in Wen Meng-Yu’s works are frequently in the figurative and abstract tension. For example, the decorative elements(mural lines) in the paintings make daily objects be “installations” that compose another level of abstract relationship. The layout of the furnishings replaces the human activity of inner space, it is a symbolic reference system reflecting the tangible space previously spoken, the characteristic of body residence. Or like Meng-Yu, Wen often says─one’s own memories and emotions. When oneself is seen as a combination of serial objects, a return to abstraction, how to be presented in paintings, Wen Meng-Yu’s works offer a possibility, which may also hide the clues sought by the artist in her entire life.
In the exhibition “Circumstance”, if spectators can stay for some time in front of Daily Routine, they may have a similar discovery and ask themselves: “When my confusion is illuminated?” ; a lamp, a typewriter, a writing space built by window frame. Or Circumstance, three paintings which form a space in space, a wall in wall is so interesting that it makes people stop over time after time, let alone the living space in paintings and the exhibition form a story within a story(mise en abyme) relationship between people and spectators. It is extremely intriguing. But Wen Meng-Yu’s traces of work style transition are even more noteworthy. The transition at least has two characteristics, the first is that the serigraphy painting elements are no longer objects of wallpaper. Follow the Maps, Daily Routine, World Maps of Circumstance in the exhibition have a desire of looking particularly at the world outside comparing to former works, at the same time, the serigraphy style of painting increase a conversational relation between the wallpaper and the map. Another interesting change is happened on another painting technique. It may not be difficult for viewers to be aware of the sentimental strokes in When It Blooms, Jogging Sometimes in the exhibition “Circumstance”, quite different from the calm and abstract feature of her former works. In previous visit of her studio, she mentioned that When It Blooms is a impression of a restaurant scene in the movie “Mood Indigo” she saw last year, and the impression has thus transferred to the paintings. Especially comparing Sweet Garden painted in 2013 and the recent work Jogging Sometimes, we can see the development of a richer artistic vocabulary after she became the finalist of Taipei Arts Awards.
“Circumstance”, from interior space to geography, inquire the artist herself the choice between dwelling and world, but in fact in my eyes, “Circumstance” does not contain completely the transition of Wen Meng-Yu, after all, the break from private space to map language, Chris Shilling’s Corporeal Realism previously mentioned, already present an uncriticized survival anxiety in the paintings. Map internalizes the affiliation of living space in different regions in world. We can further ask: “Such affiliation is reproduced in our symbolic space? In the art history?” “Circumstance”, without criticism, it shows the symbolic system of artist herself and the explanatory comment tolerated to a certain extent. The trail of memories, the blur of culture, the stigmata of an era, are left inside. Does time still stand? Following the verse of poetry:
“ When is my confusion glowing?
And be omniscient and omnipotent?”
Let us stop longer this time in front of Meng-Yu’s paintings and ask ourselves: “We are able to produce an order of life, however, is there only one choice in the dwelling and the world?”