Art in Kaohsiung

February 10, 2012 at 3:10 pm (Art, Kaohsiung, Taiwan) (, )

Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve updated! I have been both sick and busy, so it took longer than I expected to submit this post.

I spent a week (Chinese New Year) in Kaohsiung, and I finally returned to Taipei the last Thursday in January. Kaohsiung is a beautiful city in southern Taiwan, right on the beach. I’ll write a post about my full experience later; right now I want to focus on one aspect of Kaohsiung, its art scene. My friend Tweety (and her father) at Young Hip & Chic asked me to do a post on visual art, so this is for them.

First stop, Formosa Boulevard Station, considered by some to be one of the top 15 most beautiful subway stations in the world: http://www.bootsnall.com/articles/11-11/15-of-the-coolest-subway-stops-in-the-world.html

               

               

One of my first stops in the city was Pier 2, a pier turned art museum of sorts. Kaohsiung is not traditionally know as being an art center, Pier 2 and some other modern art displays are more recent developments. Many in Kaohsiung consider such artistic growth the “death of art.” I have a different opinion. It is without a doubt modern and perhaps not easily understandable, but the art in Pier 2 is unique, often deep in its message, and full of amazing talent.

Pier 2 is home to only one traditional gallery, which, as it turns out, is not so traditional: it displays trick art. The trick art basically came in two varieties, the first kind interactive paintings where you search for certain objects in the painting, or where you flip or turn a certain part of it to create a different painting. The second kind allowed people to pose so that it looks as if you are in the painting itself.

                

The trick art was really fun, but the highlight of Pier 2 is undoubtedly its outdoor exhibitions. This is where the really creative pieces of artwork are displayed, often featuring some kind of social commentary or political message. The method of display of the artwork is great. It strikes me as odd that our general method of showing art is in a sterile museum setting; it’s unnatural, whereas art is vivid and life giving. I understand that it is done so that the focus can be on the paintings and not the surroundings, but I think Pier 2 has found a successful way of incorporating its art into its environment, and vice versa. Wandering around the area the placement of the art does not seem contrived at all; it simultaneously blends into and complements the area it is in. The murals and graffiti are a part of every building, while the self-storage units containing the complicated exhibits both stand out in the environment, yet at the same time seem as if they belong. The many colorful statues enhance and brighten the area. And the fact that it is outside lends a certain peace as you walk around. In short, this is how a certain kind of artwork is meant to be displayed, in ways that enhance the meaning and appearance of the work, while adding to the atmosphere it exists in.

              

                                  

These are a few designs from a model design competition on display at Pier 2. My favorite is the last one, called “Floating Night Market”.

            

            

             

A lot of the art was politically motivated. The hands reaching out of the dirt in this piece were actually protests against the government and businessmen by Taiwanese aborigines over the destruction of their homes and environment by cutting down trees to build buildings.

             

This “graffiti-mural” featured the names of different groups of aborigines:

           

Across the murals the word 反, meaning oppose, is painted:

            

This model plane featured is a Japanese plane that bore “Made in Kaohsiung” on its tail. It turns out that it is from a movie about aborigine fighting against the Japanese occupation of Taiwan. The man pictured in the mural behind the plane is an indigenous Taiwanese war hero, and the subject of the film.

            

             

There were a lot of graffiti and murals, the most I’ve seen in one place in Taiwan:

                                                                                                                                      

This was probably my favorite exhibit, titled “Home Is Everyone’s Primeval Little Universe”. One side was dedicated to men, and the other to women. Unfortunately I only have pictures of the female side:

                                                                                                     

Here are some other shots of Pier 2:

Most of the exhibits were in storage units like this

For those who don't read Chinese, 門 is Chinese for door

My last day in Kaohsiung I visited a village that in recent years has attracted a lot of artistic talent. The village used to be for soldiers’ wives and children. The government a few years back wanted to tear it down, so people began painting on the walls so that it would become a tourist attraction, to keep the government from destroying it. People also leave personal messages (such as birthday wishes) on the walls. Here’s a sample of the many pictures in the village.

In case you didn't get it, this painting is titled “Human evolution from monkey to Avatar”

One of my favorite paintings here:

I have to say that in all this village was an odd collection of different sorts of artwork, but at least the government won’t be destroying it any time soon.

I took a lot more pictures of artwork while in Kaohsiung, these are just some of the better ones. Hope you enjoyed this post! I’ll try to make another Kaohsiung post within a week.

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2 Comments

  1. waterfallsandcaribous said,

    Wow, there’s some amazing stuff to be found. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Andrew said,

    Ooh, this is all so cool! I’ve been to Kaohsiung three or four times, but I’ve never known anything about the art scene in that city. I’ll try to check out Pier 2 next time I’m there. Great photos!

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