English Preface of Director of Art Center in Providence University
The Critical Art That Comes and Goes in the Smog-- Yuan Hui-Li’s Fiery Ink: Quotidian Smog in Providence University
/Director of Luking Library and Art Center in Providence University, Yushun Elisa Pong
American scientist Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (1962) has been published for 60 years, when she explored the ecological catastrophe of pesticides with a strong sense of justice, defying the threats of groups with huge commercial interests. The birds studied by Ms. Carson were unable to hatch their chicks after eating food containing the poisonous DDT, and their numbers were greatly reduced. The chirp and noise of the birds ceased. “There was a strange stillness,” and “……only silence lay over the fields and woods and marsh,” said Rachel Carson.
“A strange stillness” and “only silence,” these are sensory description of environmental changes by the scientist. Today, the earth is still struggling. The chemical pollutants were not only infiltrating the soil and water, but had already been floating in the air. The scary thing is that air pollution is a public hazard without borders. In Taiwan, we not only produce this pollution ourselves, but also receive the dirty air, known as smog, from China. We may be able to choose our food, but not air.
It is this pervasiveness of air pollution that pushes artist Yuan Hui-Li to present a burning olfactory manifestation through her visual medium.
Art is an expression mode of human senses. Vision and hearing have always been in a dominant position. Smell, taste and touch certainly have their own professional "taste" development, but after all, there is still a slight gap with the artistic orientation that carries certain spiritual ideas or values. However, human five senses synesthesia or mutual influence is a kind of nature. After all, we are an individual with integrity, and somatosensory is often in a sensitive state that affects the whole body. As keen as artists, it is more likely for them to transform a single perception into the expression of another perception. They are often "alive" both in the distinct and integrated sensory states.
Because she was once shocked by the choking smell of smog, artist Yuan Hui-Li's two-dimensional "Fiery Ink" work and the installation art that has been extended from it suggest a critical narrative that is transformed into visual expression through olfactory perception. The saying of "Fiery Ink" indicates that the artist takes the charcoal ash from the burning rice paper and then presses it back to the rice paper in order to express the dry and choking feeling in her breath. At the same time, she is also showing a subversive approach to traditional ink painting by way of shaping the classic masterpieces of ancient Chinese ink painting, and working hard for the concept that art should respond to contemporary life situations. In this way, she interprets the air pollution crisis of the contemporary human environment, and tries to establish a new expression vocabulary in the context of the ink painting tradition - all aspects of which have given us great inspiration!
However, even if the "anti" aesthetics are like this, we still see a kind of beauty that is hard to give up in Yuan Hui-Li's sincere effort. From the stimulation of smell, the reflection of ideas, the practice of touch and body movement, to the presentation of vision, the whole-hearted dialectics based on a certain traditional culture was born. Providence University Art Center is honored to provide a historical witness to this exhibition!