The Formless Form: An Exhibition of Shang Tao
Publisher: National Museum of History Published in March 2017, NT$2500
The feature of Shang Tao's “image” is its “greatness,” in that it has a full, expansive tension. The fluidity of the ink, robustness of his brushstroke, the effluence of his wash, the solidity of his whites, the idiosyncrasy and grace of his stylization- the aggregate tension congeals in the structure of the painting and breaks out of the work to enter directly into our mind.The tension inherent in Shang Tao's figures is mainly a tension, not at the visual level, but at the psychological level, perhaps even at the level of cultural implication.
Shang Tao's paintings is his spirit of ''love and peace''.He has always kept faith in the beauty and kindness of life and art; this can be detected in the !'adorable!( undercurrent of his form. The huge fish and large birds, giant leaves and big flowers, pandas and toads, even birds of prey, that flow from his brush all seem, in a way, approachable and adorable. Shang Tao's belief in art is: Art should be adorable. The word !'adorable!( itself evokes the innocence of childhood and doting benevolence; it also connotes perseverance in living.
Different uses of ink are common in Shang Tao’s works, while his composition is that of simplicity and dignity. At a glance, there seems to be too little glamour and too much awkwardness. Yet this is exactly this kind of “awkwardness” that renders Shang’s art so estimable and outstanding. We may say “awkwardness” is the essence in Shang’s art of calligraphy and painting. He is such a serious artist that he has not been prolific, but his works have been displayed in various exhibitions and have gained him various awards. As works of art students, only Shang Tao’s and those of Jia Youfu’s had ever been selected and become exhibits in the Li Keran Memorial Museum. “The spirit of the most awkward, the style of the grandest.” There is always an overwhelming sense of sincerity, emotions and charm in Shang Tao’s calligraphy and painting.
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