Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts

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Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts
The Spine of Spectrum
2014-12-26 ~ 2015-02-15
 Has contemporary art been completely detached from the artistic edifice of “light” and “colors”? May painting and sculpture be considered exempt from dealing with light and colors after the emergence of films and videos? The question of how to strike a balance between the artificial and natural qualities of spectrums has become a bone of contention since Isaac Newton and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe respectively employed prisms and naked eyes to study optics and develop the theory of colors.

We may be unable to “stare at the Sun” with our naked eyes, but we can separate light into different colors with crystals. We may be unable to see the “dark side of the Moon,” but we can depict it with a grey scale and chromatography. The artists manipulate brightness and darkness in a novel manner, revealing iridescent colors from pure white and pitch black. Specifically speaking, they revisit the political attribute of contemporary art through the specific causes of “chromatogenesis” or its opposite and the “last radiance of something,” namely the radical aspect of life and the aggressive aspect of society.

A spectrum refers to the range of colors observed when white light is dispersed through a glass prism. The spine of a spectrum is an intricate system of colors, revealing the trajectories of different blocs of colors refracted by a crystal. In this exhibition, the spine is completely formed by paint and plastic rather than the optical lens of a video camera and time-lapse photography. In this sense, a spectrum is no longer so much the delimitation of colors as an elusive concept indicating the indiscernibility of chromatic aberration.

In Latin, “spectrum” means “image,” “apparition,” or “specter.” This etymology therefore associates this exhibition’s hypothesis of spectrum with Jacques Derrida’s idea of Hauntology that he developed to replace Ontology in a traditional philosophical sense. Based on the meaning of “the spine of spectrum” defined above, do contemporary art and contemporary philosophy share the perceptions of light and colors that spin on a common axis? Or, do they co-evolve along a ghost spine (a physical backbone or political ethos) that exists in a paradoxical manner? By answering these questions, we will be able to see through all visible colors of light and take a glance at the indiscernible spectrum/specter embedded in our daily life, history, and social situation.

This exhibition invites thirteen Taiwanese artists who are at their twenties to present their works made of paint and plastic. They attempt to address the foregoing questions by putting their own interpretations on the light and colors endemic to the present era. As indicated by the title of this exhibition, namely The Spine of Spectrum, the light and colors flowing in these exhibited works will brim with the materiality of paint and plastic. The light no longer performs simply the insipid function of enlightenment or illumination, and the colors are not simply derived from the swatch book and digital settings. Rather, they reversely constitute a new obstacle to interpretation, which prompts the viewers to critically reflect on the exhibition as a whole.

Text by Austin M. H. Hsu