in Collaborations , Videos | 09 DEC 19

Yahon Chang: ‘The Bird Looks Beautiful, but It Is Very Strong’

Confronting tensions in the Taiwanese artist’s first performance in New York, at Performa 19

in Collaborations , Videos | 09 DEC 19
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An intimate document of Yahon Chang’s process captures the artist’s expressive calligraphic painting. Chang explains how his movements apply a contemporary openness to a form that is a vessel for the essence of two thousand years of Chinese culture.’ The resulting works express a complex tension between East and West. ‘Calligraphy is actually part and parcel of Chinese painting art’, say Chang. ‘I love calligraphy, but love painting even more.’

A similar confrontation is evident in his recent performance in New York at Performa 19, where silk drapes recall the simple forms of Bauhaus architecture (Bauhaus being the theme of Performa 19), the ‘strength’ of which contrasts with the fluidity and delicacy of Chang’s painting onto unstretched canvasses. ‘Bauhaus architecture feels hard, and I respond with softness.’

Combining hardness with softness is a core principle of the martial art Tai Chi, and this piece. Lying at the intersection of painting and performance art, allows an interrogation of their interrelationship. For Chang, painting is a performance, in which the body is as fundamental as the brush. His physical movements, he explains, themselves become a medium showing the ‘strength that has accumulated throughout [his] whole life.’