Taiwan Arts Awards
Organizers announced on Dec. 26 the winners of this year’s Taipei Arts Awards (TAA, 台北美術獎), whose creative artworks are now featured in an exhibition at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM, 台北市立美術館).
Established in 2001, the TAA is a platform that enables a new generation of artists to show their innovative ideas, while at the same time reflecting our modern times. A unique feature of the competition is that it does not divide works by medium nor does it limit any work’s size.
This year, a total of 325 artists submitted their works, which include oil on canvas, digital photographs, multimedia installations and three-dimensional displays, as well as sound and object installations, to a jury of seven art experts led by Ava Hsueh (薛保瑕), a U.S.-educated abstract painter and theorist.
Speaking during the announcement of the winner of this year’s awards, she noted that “the overall standard of works this year was outstanding and the choice of media and form was more varied than in previous years.” A record high of 16 works have been awarded, with one grand prize, five honorable mentions and 10 selected awards.
While the quality of submissions increased this year, the age of the selected artists decreased to an average of 30, making it apparent that the TAA has sparked the vitality of today’s young artists, remarked Hsueh, who cited the grand prize winner, Kai-Yuan Chi (紀紐約), for his creative spirit.
Other noted artists are Chun Tsao (曹淳) and Yi-Hong Jian (簡翊洪), who both received an honorable mention for their respective works. The former received praise for his installation “The Suitcase of Mrs. Joachim” (Joachim女士的行李箱), while the latter received an award for his series of paintings titled “Men and Uncles” (男孩與叔叔).
“During my studies in France, I once found a huge stack of personal belongings mixed with trash scattered on the sidewalk in front of my apartment building,” Tsao told The China Post. Out of curiosity, the then-student took the large burgundy suitcase home, not knowing to whom it belonged or what was inside.
“After trying more than 200 times, I finally cracked the code of the suitcase in which I found some old books, magazines and a white shirt,” he recalled. Tsao then learned that the suitcase belonged to his next-door neighbor, Mrs. Joachim — an old lady who had just passed away and had no relatives. In order to quickly rent the apartment, the landlord had cleared out all her things and put them on the sidewalk.
“After knowing the whole story, I assumed that the suitcase had accompanied the old lady to many places; so I decided to take the suitcase with me and brought it to places I wanted to go around Taiwan,” he explained. His installation work retraces the journey of the suitcase and features its contents, drawing invisible lines between Mrs. Joachim, her belongings and her memories that connect with the visitors.
Following in the same vein of memory and stereotypes, Jian’s “Men and Uncles” wants to break the stereotype of homosexual relationships. “You obviously know it is hard to pursue that kind of relationship,” he said. “In the end it is a complete failure but you still want to do it anyway.”
That is the story of the young boy who wants to capture the love of an older man, which is featured in the drawings. “When you look at this piece, I hope you can come up with your personal story,” he went on. “It doesn’t have to be about homosexual or gender issues, he or she can have his or her own understanding.”
Like the other recipients of this year’s TAA, Jian wants to surprise visitors with new interpretations of common issues and objects. “We all have different thoughts and views toward a table; so, when I feature a table inside my work, I try to look into the features of a table without adding my personal thoughts in it. That is the job of the viewers.”
( Top) Chun Tsao won an honorable mention for his installation “The Suitcase of Mrs. Joachim.” ( Above) Yi- Hong Jian also received an honorable mention for his series of paintings “Men and Uncles.”