Invited exhibitor：Yung – Ling Tseng
On November 5, the Michael Ku Gallery will be presenting “40 Years Since,” an exhibition showcasing the works of Chiang Hsun and his student Nick Dong. Chiang established the Tunghai University Department of Fine Arts in 1983, which Nick Dong enrolled in 1992, majoring in mixed media and minoring in western painting. The exhibition is like an epitome of the traces of time, and the new beginnings that time brought forth.
With exquisite handcraft, Nick Dong finished four sets of works. Time to Flower and Time between Flower are created on the foundation of multimedia, with metallic pigment and pencil delicately tracing the states of flowers in time, while Flowering and Timing reconstruct the metal parts of a saxophone and the wood from an old clock into a new life form.
Contrasting the charm in Nick Dong’s works, Chiang Hsun’s ink on paper alludes to the traces of time. Sit and Enjoy the Rising Clouds reminds viewers of the landscapes of Wang Wei, Mountains Follow the Plains echoes the reflection of Li Bai, Green Foam on New Fermented Wine is as amicable as Bai Juyi, while The Orioles Cry as if in Tears hints to the glamour of Li Shangyin. The clouds and mountains, the form of the cat, and the style of the flower that appears on old and new pieces of paper seem to take the shape of memories across the past four decades.
“40 Years Since” also invites Yung-Ling Tseng, who was a member of the class of 1987 and among the first group of alumni Chiang Hsun tutored at Tunghai University Department of Fine Arts, to present her metalworks, adding splendor to the exhibition. Tseng was also Nick Dong’s teacher, a member of the class of 1996. Forty years have passed, and the three meet once more, each with their own tales of “40 years since.”
40 Years Since:
Group Exhibition with Yung-Ling Tseng and Nick Dong at the Beginning of Winter
“40 Years Since” marks the years between 1983 and 2023; it really has been 40 years.
In 1983, I accepted the task of establishing the Tunghai University Department of Fine Arts. The 30 students of the first year arrived that July. Among them was Wen-Ling Tseng, who later changed her name to Yung-Ling. I call her Candy.
40 years since, these students have matured from 20-something youths into their sixties.
I was more enthusiastic about creating artwork and wanted to explore with youths who share the same interest. I was more enthusiastic about painting and wanted to explore with youths who also love to create artwork.
Chu Ko, Shi Murong, Max Liu, and Lin Chih-Chu all came; they were passionate about creating artworks and yearned for a creative setting that allowed more freedom.
In 1981, I met Hsu Mei-Ing while visiting Iowa; she was studying metal art. I was therefore able to initiate a new metal arts course at Tunghai University. Candy was inspired by Mei-Ing and started directing her focus on metal art. After graduating, Candy enrolled for further studies at the University of Oregon and returned to Tunghai as a teaching faculty in metal art after she obtained her degree. By this time, the Department of Fine Arts had entered its tenth year; students she taught included the talented Nick Dong, whose name was Dong Nai-Jen back then. We call him “A-Nei,” or simply “Nick.”
Nick also traveled to Oregon for further studies after graduation, where he remained after he completed his degree. Nick’s works integrate metal art with light and shadow, sound, and magnetic suspension, resulting in glamorous and magical modern installation artworks.
Nick was awarded the “fourty under fourty” award, and his works were exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., an honor in the US for forty artists under the age of forty. However, I was sentimental. I made an international phone call to congratulate him, and said, Nick, you’re forty?
Candy and Nick; I remember them as the 20-something, innocent, worriless youths, passionate about beauty and life.
Due to age, I have come to understand Wang Wei’s state of “not letting anything concern the heart.” I don’t watch television or read the newspaper. For the past three pandemic-stricken years, I seldom visited art museums, art galleries, theaters, or concert halls.
Instead, I stayed at home, Sutra copying or writing calligraphy and painting.
“The water rushes forward, but I have no interest in competition; the clouds move across the sky, a more accurate reflection of my mindset.” The works of literature and art that I admired in my youth now seem far away. What’s left on the paper and canvas are light traces of ink, resembling tea stains; now, I feel daily life to be dispensable.
Ten years, forty years of acquaintances; at times, we get together, or part ways. I would sometimes travel to Taichung and have a drink with Candy, or see Nick in Oakland, the light and shadow flickering under the Bodhi Trees in his backyard. Nick told me that the trees grew from seeds that he carried back from our trip to Angkor Wat many years ago, from the tree that the Buddha sat under in meditation in Bodh Gaya, now towering and spreading its branches in Oakland.
Some encounters in life are long, others are short, each with varying meaning and depth. Whether it be Candy or Nick, we recognize one another, regardless of how our names changed; this is our bond in this life.
I write these words in memory of the forty years that have gone by.
Chiang Hsun, Autumn Equinox, 2022; written after the earthquake in Chishang.