FOUNTAINPLANT LING, Yen Ye-Cheng’s solo exhibition at the Main Trend Gallery this year, employs the artist’s consistent creative medium—oils. It not only gives the magical effect of oil color mixing, but also tries to create a graceful sense of transparency exclusive to acrylic paint. In terms of artistic expression, the artist follows the block-based approach featured in his another solo exhibition DAO DAO LING, and meanwhile creates a brand new series “Fountainplant” that revolves around plant stems and branches.
Yen used to treat natural objects as the subjects of his works. It was not until his art series “Illustration of Plant” (2009) that he started to draw inspiration from flowers and plants in nature. He transformed the shapes of branches, leaves, flowers and pistils into straight lines, curves, circles or dots in the composition. The artist expounded: “I create works on flowers and plants neither by making sketches from them nor by turning them into something else. I simply bear them in mind and they will appear naturally in my paintings. Each brushstroke and block can be a flower, sprig, branch or leaf in a freehand style, as well as an abstract dot, line and plane.”
The “Fountainplant” series in this solo exhibition gives prominence to stems and branches, which is essentially distinct from the artist’s previous homogeneous composition (i.e., the dots, lines and planes tended to be distributed across the whole painting without a clear center). In “Fountainplant,” the stems and branches grow like those of real plants, so that the viewers may faintly discern the central axis or the starting point of growth, from which they will feel the dynamic force in the homogeneity.
Yen’s emphasis on stems and branches can be traced back to his triptych [Illustration of Plant 0907] (2009). In the dark-background paintings on the left and right are the stems laying either horizontally or vertically, whose quantity nearly equals that of stamens or pistils. Similar examples can be seen in the artist’s other series like “Flowers in Breeze” (e.g., [Flowers in Breeze 1209 -- The Silk Road]) and “Amarantha” (e.g., [Amarantha 1751 -- The New Silk Road in Response]), showing scattered stems over the composition with sporadic stamens or pistils.
In terms of the expression of stamens or pistils, the “Fountainplant” series is much more straightforward and untrammeled in comparison with the delicate depiction in “Illustration of Plant” and the clumps or blocks in “Dao Dao Ling.” It features simpler dots and circles drawn with one brushstroke, viz., there are neither careful revision nor imbricated layers.
Fountainplant, also known as lilyturf, is an evergreen perennial plant. It has slender, robust leaves and blossoms in summer. It is an ornamental plant for landscaping or bonsai. Yen titled the new series “Fountainplant” for the naturally hanging-down posture of its leaves that somewhat echoes the lines in his works.
Yen’s pursuit of contemporary painting stems from natural objects. The viewers can draw out abstract implications of the outwardly figurative composition, and vaguely see the manifestation of nature in the seemingly abstract one. In sum, Yen orientates his creative practice towards natural objects and abstraction, just as he stated himself:
“I intend to open up the possibilities of contemporary painting between similarity and dissimilarity, abstraction and figuration, the oriental and the occidental, as well as between the past and the present.”