As an exponent of Indian classical dances, I often pay homage to our fine-art neighbours, for they have, over the centuries, greatly influenced the beauty and aesthetics of the performing arts scene in India.
This connection, besides being an artiste, enables me to appreciate and understand the work of other artists. Although the medium which we choose to illustrate our thoughts varies from one to another, our aim remains the same across all artistic fields – to stir the human soul.
The Opening of the ‘2014 Taichung City Da Dun Fine Arts Exchange Exhibition’ held on Monday, July 14 in TSB Bank Wallace Arts Centre at the Pah Homestead (Auckland), was one such occasion which invited me to celebrate this mutual respect of our arts, as well as witness some of Taiwan’s finest art displayed to New Zealanders.
Organised by Taichung City Government Cultural Affairs Bureau and supported by Auckland Council and Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Auckland, the Exhibition showcases 32 past Da Dun Prize winning representative artworks from eleven categories: Oil painting, Water Colour Painting, Glue Colour Painting, Ink Wash Painting, Digital Arts, Photography, Printmaking, Calligraphy, Seal Engraving, Crafts and Sculpture.
From its humble beginning in Taichung City, the Exhibition rapidly expanded by accepting participants’ artworks from all over Taiwan and later throughout the world, serving as a platform for local and international artists to learn and gain inspiration from each other.
Now in its 19th year, this event is internationally recognised as one of the most significant exhibitions, facilitated to foster creativity and cultural awareness among aspiring artists.
Colour and charm
The Opening was a small yet lavish affair, with people coming together from different walks of the society, graced by dignitaries including Auckland Mayor Len Brown, Taichung City Deputy Mayor Ping-Kun Tsai, TECO Director-General Lincoln Ting, Amy Ting and former Waitakere City Mayor Sir Bob Harvey.
New Zealand Maori and Taiwanese Aboriginal performers added their own colour and splendor through their respective art forms, but more importantly, their joint presence acknowledged well-known historical and ancestral links between the two indigenous groups, thus bringing New Zealand and Taiwan closer on special events such as the Exhibition.
The beauty of this Exhibition lies in its heritage location, Pah Homestead, which appeals more than a conventional art gallery. The old décor creates an atmosphere where viewers can take their time looking at a work, and perhaps analyse the artists’ intentions without rushing to the next one.
Because the artworks are grouped and situated in different rooms, the relationship between the observer and the observed can be intimate, giving rise to political, psychological, sociological or philosophical messages that the artists are trying to convey.
The themes I sensed throughout the Gallery were Freedom, Serenity, Innocence, Uncertainty and Patriotism. The ones I found thought-provoking had a young girl as the subject of attention, namely ‘What about Our Hearts?’ and ‘Listening.’
Perhaps the artists wanted to (deliberately) compare their country to that of a vulnerable child.
‘Rebirth’ however, will tap into New Zealanders’ hearts as it depicts Taiwan’s worst earthquake (September 21, 1999), synonymous with the earthquake disasters in Christchurch.
This painting is therefore an example of shared pain and the act of moving forward with a new beginning.
Another interesting and cryptic one is ‘WIW,’ as this artwork can be comprehended only after decoding the full form of its title.
Symbolic meanings are plentiful, but rest on the viewer’s interpretation.
About the Exhibition
What: Taichung City Da Dun Fine Arts Exchange
Where: TSB Bank Wallace Arts Centre
The Pah Homestead
72 Hillsborough Road, Auckland
When: Daily, until August 31
Tuesday to Friday 10 am to 3 pm
Saturday & Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm
Not on Mondays
Contact: (09) 6392010
Pictured here are (from left) Taichung City Indigenous Peoples Commission Chairperson Dr Ciwas Pawan, ‘Indigenous Peoples Atayal Dancers’ Chief Dancer Ya-Ling Huang, Taichung City Deputy Mayor Ping-Kun Tsai, Auckland Mayor Len Brown, Taichung City Cultural Affairs Bureau Director-General Susan Yeh, Taipei Economic & Cultural Office of Auckland Director-General Lincoln Ting and his wife Amy
Artist Lien-Tung Chuang, St John New Zealand Chairman Richard Blundell, Annemarie Millar, Lincoln and Amy Ting