THÓO-PŌO TÓO-GÍ Hung Cheng-Ren: A Survey looks at the artist’s creative trajectory of nearly four decades. The exhibition showcases 72 artworks spanning the late 1980s and the current day, highlighting different stages of Hung’s career.
Thóo-Pōo is a term used by the artist as a self-deprecating note to describe the lack of advancements in his techniques while compared to the state-of-the-art technologies in image-making. Here it refers to the methods one develops in response to the conditions and environment in which they work—often it is grown out of necessity and is formed outside formal artistic conventions. Thóo-Gí means vernacular. Here we refer it to an artistic “language” that emerges when the artist’s “subject” and “form of expression” are well complementary of each other. From these two concepts, the exhibition examines the formation of Hung’s techniques and aesthetics, and how they lead to a style that is particular to his development as an artist.
Hung’s career can be divided into three stages: the “formative period” (1984-1994), the “experimental period” (1998-2008), and the “fusion period” (2009-). Works shown include
the formally aesthetic pictures of his early years and his creative endeavor during the late 1990s and early 2000s, during which he and 4 other photo artists formed the Black Eye Circle Image Creatives. The experimental period led to the development of techniques that defined his later practice and helped form his “vernacular”, a style visible in his iconic work on Hongmaogang: Place of Melancholy, and extends to his latest series, Formosa Dystopia, which is a response to the contemporary society and culture in Taiwan.
Hung embarked on his artistic journey as an amateur photo enthusiast and became one of the prominent Taiwanese photo artists of the day. THÓO-PŌO TÓO-GÍ is a survey of this trajectory, which is grown outside of the traditional or the canonical, in the wild. He and his comrades, which share with him similar identities and experiences, can be seen as the “wildlings” of Taiwanese photographic artists, a breed unique to this land.