About Take the Field, Take the StageGo Back
WKM Gallery is pleased to present artist Kuo Yen Fu’s inaugural solo exhibition in Hong Kong, titled Take the Field, Take the Stage. This exhibition showcases the selected paintings from Kuo on the themes of athletes and films in the past two years. Like many artists, Kuo draws inspiration from his life experiences and personal journeys. Years of being an athlete and later pursuing a career in the entertainment business have deepened his understanding of the contrasting realities under the spotlight and behind the camera, as well as the various facets of life.
Growing up in Taiwan during the vibrant 80s and 90s, a time when popular culture and celebrity culture thrived alongside widespread media dissemination. As a student undergoing athletics training, he was fascinated by the athletes on the competition field. He would emulate the movements of renowned athlete Carl Lewis, nurturing his aspirations and longing for the future. Since then, he has collected a number of hard-earned newspaper and magazine clippings, meticulously preserving reports on sports events. With his family running a video rental store at the time, films naturally became a part of his upbringing and enlightenment, opening doors to a world beyond sports.
Painting is formed through observation and contemplation. Since his student days, Kuo’s study of athletes' movements and appreciation of films have become the foundation of his creativity. In the series depicting athletes, muscles and lines develop and extend following the movement. Years of athletic training and motion analysis have enabled the artist to grasp the expression of body dynamics and muscles in different stages of exercise. The tension and explosiveness, calmness and convergence, and the brushstrokes that oscillate between outburst and restraint are reflections of logic and self-cultivation in the creative process.
The portrayal of human muscles in art history has a classical aesthetic background, on the other hand, contemporary films carry diverse cultural aesthetics from different eras and regions, even influencing the development of aesthetic values. Unlike the athlete series, Kuo's paintings inspired by films reflect his contemplation of popular culture and stereotypes. The works reveal a humorous and playful aspect, showcasing the translation and reinterpretation of filmic images and cultural symbols. They also seem to embody the artist's introspection on his experiences in the entertainment business, exploring how to maintain composure in the dazzling world in front of the camera.
Each trajectory is the accumulation of countless moments, and each photograph or image holds its significance. Whether documenting important moments in sports history or the audio-visual and conceptual influence brought by popular and artistic films, through the ‘absence’, the viewers construct multiple interpretations and imaginations through imagery. The composition on the canvas is a re-creation of visual resources, especially through the changing perspectives, the stacking of colours and brushstrokes to create a dramatic sense of speed and power, and to form a surreal environment in which the subject exists. Kuo attempts to record memories and eras through painting, utilising specific, explicit, and sometimes intentionally blurred subject images and symbols. The structures within his creations inspire viewers to reflect upon similar or different past experiences, or the accumulated collective memories of the late 20th century.
Since dedicating himself to artistic creation in 2015, Kuo has continuously developed new forms for his artistic language. He shares that he has never ceased engaging in painting since his childhood, and now he sees it as a moment of reorganisation—an attempt to integrate, transform, and pass on the dreams and passions from his past experiences. It is also a testament to the artist's will. ‘Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot,’ as famously said by Charlie Chaplin, still holds an intriguing meaning today. Both as an athlete and an actor, these roles share a common trait of constantly challenging oneself physically and mentally. When the artist reflects upon himself, he also encourages viewers that every individual is creating a unique life trajectory on their own stage.
- Kuo Yen Fu