A review of Nou Gallery, Taipei

Dear Taipei,

“Do you like art?”

This seemingly simple question is one which in my experience can be surprisingly divisive. Answers range from a spirited, “YES, I try to check out galleries whenever I have the time” to a mumbled, “Not really… the thing is I don’t really get it”.

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I recently stumbled on the spectacular exhibition currently showing at the Nou Gallery. I wasn’t intending to visit that day, and in fact, I was just wandering around the area after the gallery I actually set out to see was for closed for no apparent reason, so it was a brilliant surprise when I walked through the doors and was greeted by the following stunningly beautiful and intricate works.

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Nou Gallery is located in between Zhongxiao Dunhua and Xinyi Anhe, and was set up with the intention of expressing the beauty of Asian contemporary art right here in Taipei. To take the words from the curators themselves:

The core values of Nou Gallery are cross-genre, cross-generation, and cross-cultural, with which we intend to present a contemporary art perspective full of variety and criticality, ranging from painting, sculpture, video art to installation.

(Source: Nou Gallery Wesbite)

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I was absolutely taken with the exhibition on show right now, particularly the works by the very talented Japanese artist, Hayakawa Katsumi. As you can see, the works are incredibly detailed, and I can’t begin to fathom how much dedication it took to finish one work of this nature, let alone the many on display.

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You can tell each each element of the work required pain-painstaking accuracy to piece together. It was mesmerising to view the artworks from different angles and distances. Like a good book, I think no matter how many times you looked at his artwork you would find a new perspective to explore.

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I was talking to the attendant at the gallery and she said Mr Hayakawa will be visiting the gallery next year in January, so I hope I have the chance to attend that event as I would love to meet him.

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Also on show at the gallery right is the exhibition “Rational Beings of Tony Cragg”. I enjoyed walking around each sculpture and trying to follow their  sleek, fluid lines.

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Giving proper time to appreciate each piece in the gallery made me think about the role art has played throughout my life.

I was surrounded by art from a young age, thanks to my father who is a professional artist. As a child I always was creating something. I can vividly recall a very innocent memory of when I was quite young and would draw pictures on pieces of paper at the beginning of the year, which I would then wrap up in newspaper and set aside. When Christmas came, I would open my self-given “presents” with great awe and surprise, as if I had no idea what lay beneath the layers of paper.

As I progressed through school I had the capacity to realise how wonderful a creative and expressive outlet creating art was. But whilst I very much loved creating art, as it seems is the way these things go, I had an outrageously terrible art teacher in high school who tore me completely down.

I feared going to every class, and would clam up as she walked by as she would bellow horrible things about my artwork and personally attack me. I would leave class teary eyed and feeling completely dejected. To put it in context, -no joke- she was an ex-woman’s prison guard. I don’t know why she took a particular disliking to me, but it really affected me and was the reason I didn’t pursue art until the end of my schooling.

Although my confidence in my own art has never quite recovered, one thing she wasn’t able to take away from me as my love of appreciating other people’s art. So to answer the question which opened this long winded trip down memory lane- I absolutely love art, as it’s always been in my life and has always been an outlet for me- either as a creator or spectator.

But sometimes I don’t get it either! It is oftentimes confusing, and some pieces seem to be completely inexplicable. In fact, the artist may create the art not to be understood, but just appreciated. I think therein lies the beauty of art- to steal a much used idiom- It is in the eye of the beholder.

I like to believe that each piece can be approached from a number of standpoints, and which one you choose to take is completely up to you. A cursory glance at a piece of art will be able to give you a superficial feeling of whether you personally like or dislike what lies in front of you. But if you spend a bit more time, you can read up on the social, historical and cultural context which shaped that artist (often written out on those handy blurbs next to the artwork), and thus gain a deeper understanding of that piece of art.

Maybe you can appreciate the particular techniques the artist used, or the overall vision of the artist. Sometimes its tempting just to simply say “I like it” or “I hate it”. Our gut reaction is fundamentally very emotive, and tends to be drawn from our prior experiences and exposure. So to try to detach yourself from the first feeling that pops into your head is quite an interesting challenge.

I always try to find another aspect to look at- especially when I don’t like the piece. I may not like what I see on a visual level, but maybe I can appreciate how much effort the artist went to to create it, or the level of complexity of the message they are trying to communicate. At the very least, I try to justify my dislike for it based on something other than how visually displeasing it is.

Of course, just exposure to art is the most important thing, so if that all sounds like to much work, just go, wander, and not think a thing.

It is my belief that art should primarily be accessible, and not seen as a something which only an elite crowd of “art-types” enjoy. It is there for every person to enjoy, to take something from, and fortunately a lot of art may be viewed for free (as is the case at Nou Gallery). I hope even if you’re one to answer “no” to the question “Do you like art?”, you give it another chance and visit either this gallery, or another.

You might just surprise yourself.

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-TTT

Nou Gallery
Where: No.232, Sec. 4, Ren’ai Rd., Da’an Dist., Taipei City 106, Taiwan
Nearest MRT: Zhongxiao Dunhua or Xinyi Anhe
When: Tues. ~ Sun. 11:00 am ~ 7:00 pm (Closed on Mondays)
How much: FREE
Photography: Click away (no flash)
Exhibition period: Now til early 2016.
*Nou Gallery is open year round so pop in any time of the year!)

展覽資訊:
開幕 : 2016.02.27 (六) 15:00
展期 : 2016.02.27 – 03.27
地點 : Nou Gallery新畫廊 台北市仁愛路四段232號1F
時間 : 11:00-19:00 (週一休)

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3 comments

  1. As always, I enjoyed so much your writing 🙂
    And both the gallery and the artworks look amazing, I will try to go before I leave!

    Like

    1. Thanks love!

      Yes you will definitely have to check it out before you leave!

      I really still want to go to the other gallery I was originally trying to go to. Maybe we can have a gallery crawl day ^^

      Liked by 1 person

  2. […] was kindly invited by Nou Gallery to the opening a couple of weeks ago, after I gushed a review I wrote of the gallery about how much I appreciated  his works. You may think I am being too exorbitant in my praise of […]

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