These snaps—sorry I’m not a real photographer—depict the fourth and final section of Visualizing for Bunita Marcus, a site-specific drawing-painting project by Syau-Cheng Lai. I wrote the following about the piece on my blog (where you can also find more pictures):
Made up of four long sheets of unframed Rives BFK paper pinned to the walls, it covers nearly the entire perimeter of the gallery (minus windows and doors). It contains a rich variety of abstract markings in ink, pencil, pastel, and (oil and acrylic) paint. She uses strong colors—red, orange, gold, bright pink—with considerable restraint. The piece unfolds in a temporal sequence and employs pauses and empty space. I was delighted.
The installation accompanies Lai’s recent performance of composer Morton Feldman’s quiet, subtle, spacious solo piano piece For Bunita Marcus.
To this I would add only that neither photographs nor words can capture the subtle texture and sense of depth present in the piece. In particular, her use of iridescent pigments—reflecting the surrounding colors—was remarkable.
She has the following to say about her work:
This project is a departure point for me in making art.
I am a pianist. All I need to make music is a piano and sheets of music, which do not take a lot of space. I am a painter as well. Yet over the years I started to get overwhelmed with how many framed works, big and small, accumulated in various corners of my house. Not to long ago, I started to think about alternative ways to make art.
I found that using a roll of paper solves this problem. I like its textile sensuality. I can experiment, developing and expanding my ideas on something relatively big in scale. Then, when I am ready, I can simply roll it up and put my work away.
Spreading my elbows, knees, and ankles on the floor and moving my body back and forth to paint and draw retrieved memories from my childhood when I was living in my grandparent’s house in southern Taiwan. In that house, which was converted from a Japanese temple, people worked, ate, and rested on the tatami floor. I like the grounded feeling while working on the floor.
The work itself, now installed in the Tjaden Gallery, was originally inspired by a solo piano music masterpiece entitled For Bunita Marcus (1985) by the American composer Morton Feldman (1926-1987). Approximately 75 minutes in length, this piece of music is characterized as exquisitely spare, quiet, glacially paced, sensual, and full of intricate sound patterns. I would like my work in paper to communicate some of the same sensual and ephermeral aesthetics. I wanted to find out what it means to be at ease, how far to push an idea, and when to let go. The work itself is a journey. Please walk around and enjoy.
This strikes me an excellent artist’s statement. It addresses the relationship between art and music, which is especially useful for those (like myself) who know little of the latter. It delves into the physical and psychological motivations for making art, and it connects these to autobiography in a way that isn’t overbearing.
To push this hodge-podge into the flow of ideas here at A&P, I’ll draw your attention to the discussion following my post last week. Syau-Cheng’s art and writing answer questions raised by Karl and June better than I could.