Substance is a solo exhibition by Chiu Lin-yao at idiosyncratic Taipei alternative space Mad L, curated by Ida Yang. For both artist and curator, it is a debut affair, albeit a strong and fresh beginning. Chiu is a rarity these days – a practicing artist without an MFA. Growing weary of two-dimensional painting and drawing, Chiu began studying fashion at Shih Chieh University, but in the course of her studies became interested in contemporary art and began making sculptures, installations, video and multi-media works. Yang recently returned to Taipei from Paris, where she completed an MA in Marketing and Distribution of Contemporary Art Works at Institut d'Etudes Supérieures des Arts. She is currently studying Art History and Criticism at National Taipei University of Education.
Substance is an exhibition focused on the materiality of objects and the physical processes of change. Chiu says in her artist statement: “I would like to experience the limits of all things and become all things.” Guided by intuition, the works in the exhibition include paintings, video and sculpture. A standout work is an aquarium with a dead fish languidly floating in serene aqua blue water, its gracefulness betraying a state of death and suggesting, not morbidity, but poise in the transition of change. A video work is more visceral as the artist staples various strips of meat to a canvas, playing upon the static implications of painting in the face of perpetual change – a kind of death in insertion into the fixity of cultural signs. These bold and strident works are helped by the the charm of the space itself, which eschews the white cube for grainier and grittier textures. A sculpture containing a mound of soil helps activate the space and erase the lines between artworks and host environment. In her curatorial statement, Yang draws upon Henri Bergson by positing the following questions: “Can a substance remain in the same state without changing itself? Why does a substance deteriorate? Why can time change the characteristics of matter?” Substance is confident exploration of these questions and presents a moment of crystallization for these two young rising talents of the Taipei art world. The exhibition runs until August 24. Catch it while you can.