Exhibition Notes: Finding Freedom Between the Lines
Yang Ding Xian’s Finding Freedom Between the Lines
By using oil to paint oriental themes, Yang Ding-Xian combines two traditions: seamlessly combining experiments with Western media with the methods and techniques imparted through his Chinese heritage. The title also refers to other ways in which traditions are combined: the experimental trajectory of (Western) modern art with the discipline and scholastic rigor of the East.
In this series, Yang Ding-Xian works with a palette that recalls a garden. Here, reminders of what was and what could be are signified not by modern visual cues for development. Such a narrative has no room for concrete structures or urban architecture, instead it returns to a story of life and vitality as seen in hard stone cutting through soft moss – symbols that tell another story of balance and control altogether.
“Moss is the point, stone is the line, which constitutes life’s surface,” he explains. This is visible in several works, wherein soft, sage green “points” appear to grow on the canvas, scattering themselves about a foundation established by the harder, more certain lines that lead the eye and focus one’s perspective. Neither element seems to interrupt the other or act as an intrusion. As it would occur in nature, moss and stone appear to grow in harmony.
Born in 1966, in the village of Houli, along the banks of the Dajia River in Taiwan, Yang Ding-Xian came of age during a period of economic turmoil wrought by the small country’s rebuilding phase in the 1960s. Instead of having time to study and play like other children his age, Yang Ding-Xian worked in the small factory that his family’s living room had been converted into. Coming from this difficult childhood, Yang Ding-Xian has come to regard painting as his lease on freedom, and rather than look back on those years with bitterness and resentment, they have granted him with the perseverance necessary to endure the loneliness and hardship he would later encounter as an artist.
“Finding Freedom Between the Lines,” in this case, could also be read into how some of today’s Chinese artists, like Yang Ding-Xian, are applying the careful and meditative brushwork, in which they have been trained, to Western media. This same preoccupation with balance affirms Yang Ding Xian’s faith and fidelity to what his heritage can offer him as a contemporary Chinese artist.