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Taiwanese artist Lifang's works make their UK debut in Whitechapel Gallery's spring exhibition

  • Date:2023-02-09~2023-05-07
Taiwanese artist Lifang's works make their UK debut in Whitechapel Gallery's spring exhibition

The Cultural Division of the Taipei Representative Office in the United Kingdom (TRO), working with the Whitechapel Gallery, will present works of Taiwanese artist Lifang (李芳枝) in the Gallery's Spring Exhibition, "Women Artists and Global Abstraction 1940–70." The Exhibition reaches beyond the predominantly white, male painters whose names are synonymous with the Abstract Expressionism movement, to discover the practices of numerous international women artists working with gestural abstraction in the aftermath of the Second World War. The exhibition runs from Feb. 9 to May 7 and will tour in France and Germany.

While the Abstract Expressionism movement is said to have begun in the USA, artists all over the world were exploring similar themes of materiality, freedom of expression, perception, and gesture in the mid-century period, from Art Informel to Arte Povera in Europe and from calligraphic abstraction in East Asia to experimental, highly political practices in Central and South America, and the Middle East. The exhibition features well-known artists associated with the Abstract Expressionism movement, including American artists Lee Krasner and Helen Frankenthaler, alongside lesser-known figures such as Mozambican artist Bertina Lopes and Korean artist Wook-Kyung Choi. However, more than half of the 150 works have never been publicly displayed in the UK. Lifang's artworks are among those works.

Lifang was the only female founder of the Fifth Moon Art Group in 1957, a radical artists' collective in post-war Taiwan that pioneered modern art between the mid-1950s and the 1970s. Lifang's works are mainly watercolor and oil paintings, but both preserve the traditional ink painting method. She likes to use thicker rice paper to depict abstract watercolors and is accustomed to painting with calligraphic lines first and then with transparent watercolor. The vivid lines, clear colors, flexibility, and stability make her paintings intriguing. The two Lifang works in Action, Gesture, and Paint are Untitled, 1969, Oil on canvas, and Autumn, 1968, Oil on canvas.

The TRO comments that the Whitechapel Art Gallery plays a central role in London's cultural landscape. Last year, the CD cooperated with the Whitechapel Gallery to promote Taiwanese Artists Li Yuan-Chia (李元佳) and Hsieh Tehching (謝德慶) in its "A Century of Artist's Studio 1920-2020" last year. And we bring Lifang's works to London this year to continue exposing the artworks of Taiwanese artists in the hope of connecting Taiwanese artists with the development of international art through different exhibition topics and discussions.

(Courtesy of the collection of Theobald Brun, Switzerland. Photo credit: Francesca Granata)