“Seeing Through Light: Wu Chi-Tsung Solo Exhibition” Introducing New Work and Technique

exhibition poster

Public Dates  Jul 13 – Oct 2, 2021, Tue – Sat, 11 am – 7 pm
Venue  Tao Art Space, 8f, No.79-1, Zhouzi St., Neihu Dist., Taipei city

 On Jul 13, “Seeing Through Light: Wu Chi-Tsung Solo Exhibition” opens at Tao Art Space in Taipei. Curated by renowned curator Chia Chi Jason Wang, the exhibition marks the premiere of a series of experimental video works, the Drawing Study Series. Applying a special video-filming technique, Wu Chi-Tsung offers an alternative way of looking at reality through the work.

Tao Art Space is jointly founded by art collector Vicky Chen and her father.  Parallel to their collection and presentation of contemporary art, Tao Art Space has also established a remarkable collection of antiques under the name “Hu Bu Tang.” Both believing that Art could transcend time, Wu Chi-Tsung and Tao Art started this collaboration. The artist presents a special feature of ancient Buddhist sculptures from Tao Art’s Hu Bu Tang Collection as part of the Drawing Studies Series,bringinga modern “exposure” to the antiques. Alongside, early works such as Rain and Self-Portrait will be exhibited to ‘pan across’ Wu Chi-Tsung’s artistic journey with video and photography. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tao Art Space is limiting the number of people in the Gallery at any one time and is open by appointment only. Meanwhile, the Gallery has introduced a number of measures to keep the visitors and staff safe. Please click the button below to RSVP and enjoy your visit.

Seeing Through Light: Wu Chi-Tsung Solo Exhibition

Curated by Chia Chi Jason Wang

Once during nightfall, sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) held a lamp and led art critic Paul Gsell (1870-1947) to see an ancient Greek statue of Venus in the dark. With the dim lamplight, the sculptor turned the movable platform that held the statue, and made the critic look closely at the torso of Venus, illuminating the complex and intricate projections and depressions. This way, Rodin helped Gsell to discover the beauty of flesh represented by artists in the Classical period.[1]

During his youth, Wu Chi-Tsung was still exploring creative possibilities, and had also seen himself through light. In the dark, he replaced paintbrush with a flashlight, and pointed it at his face to capture his own portrait, while also setting the camera on long exposure (B mode) to allow the trail of light to simultaneously develop on the film. The printed and enlarged images became his earliest “Self-Portrait” series (2004). Based on this, “seeing through light” is not just a metaphor of Wu Chi-Tsung’s personal enlightenment and self-discovery, but also his unique creative means.

Rain 雨景, 13:00, 2002

Before the “Self-Portrait” series, he tried to capture the scenery outside his home window using high shutter speed (1/8000 second) for “Rain” (2002). In the video, the constantly skipping raindrops are a sharp comparison to the seemingly stationary landscape of the Tamsui River far away, especially the Guandu Bridge that spans over the river, as well as the roads and surrounding woods. Between those things moving at a high speed and remaining stationary are the endless traffic on the bridge and the road. Through camera and video camera, Wu Chi-Tsung repeatedly reverses and topples human’s daily vision, as well as their perceptive experience of reality. Consciously, Wu Chi-Tsung manipulates the “moment” in time by stretching and slowing it down or rapidly accelerating and speeding it up, through which he offers an alternative way of looking at reality.

“Seeing through light” is a common term in Buddhist scriptures, referring to the thorough understanding and transcendence of enlightenment. In May 2021, Wu Chi-Tsung holds a solo exhibition at TAO ART Space. In response to the gallery’s collection of classical sculptures, Wu has specially selected five Buddhist statues from different dynasties that have unique aesthetics and spiritual significances, including: “Gilded and Colored Limestone Head of Buddha” from Eastern Wei to Northern Qi (6th century), “Limestone Head of Buddha” and “Limestone Standing Bodhisattva” from Northern Qi (6th century), “Limestone Head of Bodhisattva” from Sui (6th-7th century), and “Wooden Standing Venerable Ānanda” from Song (10th-13th century), as the source images to develop a series of videos. The title, “Seeing Through Light,” not only reflects the curator‘s observation on Wu Chi-Tsung’s art from the past to present, but also echoes these Buddhist statue-themed new works featured in this exhibition.

 Drawing Study - Limestone Head of Buddha
 Drawing Study – Limestone Head of Buddha(screenshot)  寫生習作 - 北齊 灰石佛首像(截圖)

Like a brush made of light, the artist points a flashlight at the Buddhist statues and sketches; a video camera is fixed on the side to record the movements of the light beam in the space, as well as the end results of the manifestation of the Buddhist statues through the trail of light. The recorded videos, in the post-production process, are retouched using a digital program developed by the artist. Targeting each frame (30 frames/1 second), Wu Chi-Tsung sets for each layer a brightness parameter, so that it increases as the layers pile up. This way, the videos processed through the computer algorithm not only preserve the original temporal linearity, but also intensify with the piling up of layers to create a stunning visual effect, as if physical thickness were added to time.

Back in 2003, Wu Chi-Tsung was already experimenting with video creations of the same principle. The difference is that, back then, digital computing was still in the cradle, and he could only possess and access limited post-production tools, and make use of inexpensive equipment he had around to layer the pictures a frame at a time, completing “The Self-Portrait of 71 Frames.” Today, nearly 20 years later, with more advanced digital equipment and programs to assist his shooting and computing, the artist carries on and expands this concept that he was unable to thoroughly realize early on, achieving further development.

Early on, Wu Chi-Tsung completed many works simply titled “Self-Portrait” through exploring and experimenting on his own. From knowing self to observing reality, image tools were the core media he used to probe into the authenticity of phenomena. Contemplating on the nature of video and viewing, he often started from the rhetoric of suspicion and rhetorical question to establish the problematic. Paradox within suspense was almost an indispensable aesthetic quality of his video works.

Self-portrait No.4, 自畫像No.4, 2004

Continuing the existing style and video thinking, Wu Chi-Tsung’s seeing the Buddhist statues through light is obviously an exploration of artistic creation, which is concretely different than the Buddhist notion of enlightenment and seeing through reality and illusion. Despite this, the images of the Buddhist statues have been converted by him to gradually become illuminated in the dark, from partially to entirely, allowing audience to really witness the beauty of “seeing through light.” Wu Chi-Tsung conjures the embodied spiritual power of the statues to manifest its mysterious nature, while also turning the viewing experience into an enriched journey of discovery.

Wu Chi-Tsung continued to apply the same video post-production technique to the selected coasts and cities he shot, creating the “Drawing Study” series (2021). Regardless of the oceanic scenery at Longdong in northern Taiwan, or the urban landscapes of Taipei City, which are all actual real-time sceneries, the reprocessed videos show visual variations to create a perceptive confusion suspended between to be or not to be. Whether it is natural landscapes or urban crowds, they are all consistently changing to begin with; however, through the artist’s unique digital manipulation, they instantly consolidate into solid scenic spectacles, leaving everyone in awe. Although they originate from reality, what the artist offers are sceneries that can never happen in the phenomenal world. The artificial fabulation of Wu Chi-Tsung exists in-between reality and fiction, expanding for the works room of philosophical and aesthetic dialectics, and allowing viewers to ruminate on the notion of noumenon ( or thing-in-itself) and truth.

Matching the new videos created by Wu Chi-Tsung using the archived Buddhist statues of TAO ART Space as the source images with the spatial utilization, “Seeing Through Light: Wu Chi-Tsung Solo Exhibition” arranges for the original Buddhist statues seen in the videos to also be exhibited, hoping to trigger intriguing dialogues for the unexpected encounter of ancient and contemporary arts. Also, at the entrance of the first gallery, a special display of hand-puppet and hand-puppetry stage is specially organized—these are also unique items in the collection of TAO ART Space. The stages and puppets exude distinctive qualities of human drama, and the special display aims to welcome the guests of the exhibition, and usher them into the exhibition space.

As mentioned above, “Seeing Through Light: Wu Chi-Tsung Solo Exhibition” gathers works of the artist starting from his younger days of self-exploration, including “Self-Portrait,” “The Self-Portrait of 71 Frames,” and “Rain,” which are highly experimental, to all new works created in 2021, which include serval videos and photographic outputs using Buddhist statues as the theme, as well as two videos entitled the “Drawing Study” series that depict the oceanic scenery of Longdong and urban sceneries of Taipei. Comparing his earlier and new works not only helps audience to understand his latest works through learning about his past, but also allows audience to see Wu Chi-Tsung’s creative path and aesthetic preferences over the past 20 years.

[1] Auguste Rodin, Art: Conversations with Paul Gsell, trans. Jacques de Caso & Patricia B. Sanders (Berkeley and Los Angles: University of California Press, 1984), pp. 22-26.

Drawing Study 001 – Seascape LongDong 寫生習作 001 – 龍洞海景

日期 2021年7月13日 – 10月2日, 週二至週六11am – 7 pm
地址 Tao Art Space,台北市內湖區洲子街79-1號8樓

由策展人王嘉驥策劃的吳季璁個展《照見》,今日起於台北Tao Art Space開展。展覽將首次呈現藝術家使用新的拍攝技術完成的實驗影像《寫生習作》,展現其另類觀照現實之道。

TAO ART 由 Vicky Chen(陳薇捷)和父親共同創立,除了致力於當代藝術的收藏與展覽外,亦還建立了名為「胡不堂」的古物收藏,因其收藏路徑與吳季璁的創作方向不謀而合,本次,吳季璁特別與胡步堂合作,在《寫生習作》系列中,呈現了胡不堂收藏的佛像藏品,以現代之眼為古物賦予了全新的詮釋空間與觀看可能。此外,《雨景》、《自畫像》等早期影像作品也將展出,從而「全景」呈現出藝術家十餘年來對於實驗影像的思考與探索歷程。




Seeing Through Light: Wu Chi-Tsung Solo Exhibition


雕塑家羅丹(Auguste Rodin, 1840-1917)曾經趁著黃昏入夜的時間,持燈引導藝評家葛賽爾(Paul Gsell, 1870-1947),在黑暗之中欣賞古希臘的維納斯雕像。透過幽微燈光的映照,雕塑家同步推移承載雕像的轉盤,讓藝評家的目光緊盯愛神像的軀體,照見細膩有致的凹凸變化。藉此,羅丹讓葛賽爾發現了古典時代藝術家再現的肉體之美。[1]



「照見」也是佛典常見常用的語彙,指向開悟成佛的透徹與超脫。2021年5月,吳季璁在Tao Art Space發表個展,特別因應此一機構的經典雕刻收藏,選擇了五件別具美感與精神意涵的歷代佛像,包括:東魏至北齊(6世紀)的灰石貼金帶彩佛首像、北齊(6世紀)的灰石佛首像和菩薩立像、隋代(6-7世紀)灰石菩薩首像,以及宋代(10-13世紀)木雕阿難尊者立像等,作為文本,發展出一系列的錄像作品。借「照見」之名,除了反映策展人對於吳季璁過往以來的藝術觀察,也對應他此次以佛像為題的這些新作。

Drawing Study – Wood Standing Ananda, Song Dynasty 《寫生習作 - 宋 木雕阿難尊者立像》





Drawing Study 002
Drawing Study 002 – Urbanscape Taipei《寫生習作 002 – 台北市景》


搭配吳季璁以Tao Art Space所藏佛像為文本的影像新作,「照見:吳季璁個展」在空間的運用上,也安排影像中所見的各尊佛像原作一同展出,期盼增添古代與當代藝術不期而遇的對話趣味。同時,第一展廳的入口處,特別安排了掌中劇的舞臺及戲偶展出──也是Tao Art Space的特別收藏。戲臺與人偶帶著鮮明的人間戲劇特質,也藉此迎賓,引領觀眾進入展場空間。


[1] Auguste Rodin, Art: Conversations with Paul Gsell, trans. Jacques de Caso & Patricia B. Sanders (Berkeley and Los Angles: University of California Press, 1984), pp. 22-26. 亦參閱《羅丹藝術論》,羅丹口述,葛賽爾筆記(臺北:雄獅圖書股份有限公司,1992),頁45-51。