KUO Wei-Kuo was born in Taipei in 1960 and graduated from the Fine Arts Department of Chinese Culture University in 1984. In 2003 he received his Master of Fine Arts degree from Taipei National University of the Arts. He won the Freeman Foundation Asian Award in 2000, the Eighth LEE Chun-Shan Modern Painting Award in 2004 and the LIAO Chi-Chun Oil Painting Award in 2005. His work of the early 1990’s revolves around the use of metaphor on societal oppression. This can be seen in works such as: Luminescence and Tension (1993) and New Paradise (1994), where squirming glands, metal saw blades and cold and hard geometric frames appear in ice-cold foreboding landscapes. The surrounding chaos forms a discordant visual tension that seems to want to break through its confines, and an intense feeling of scattered violence oozes out from this anxious struggle.
It is obvious from his 1996 series Scenery of Desire in the Dark that the artist turned toward social themes in his paintings, and in this work he utilizes various elements from popular cultures in Taiwan. Through sexual subject matter and metaphors, he reveals decadence, excessive carnal desire and the corruption of morals in Taiwan’s contemporary society. From 1997 to 2005, he developed the series Diagram of Commotion and Desire where he utilized self portraits to examine his own identity. In this series he blended classical realism with surrealism techniques and utilized a large amount of symbols and metaphors to express his narcissism, and honestly analyze his psychological state as he entered middle age. His artworks after 2006 still feature his self-portraits as the visual text, but he also appropriates images from classical Chinese novels, Western mythology, scenes of masterpieces, and pop-culture products to extend the narrative of hisiconology. In the series Forbidden Wishes, which shares the same title with his exhibition in 2013, the “self” starts to hide from the image as if the artist were burying the regret of one’s broken desire behind the symbols of blessing and the festive images.
The composition of this painting reminds us of Narcissus; the handsome young man from the Greek myth who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water, and in the end drowned and was transformed into the flower that bears his name. KUO Wei-Kuo is likewise pursuing himself, but is obviously aware that he is gazing into a pool and what he sees has passed through the mill of socialization, and therefore he has fallen in love with a mere masquerade of his true self. This kind of huge disappointment of not being able to love the true self makes this painting a satire. The artist can only stare at himself and ask, ‘what can I do?’ in an expression of compassion for the ‘I’ who cannot remove the mask, while intently observing the reality of his middle age.
In the 1980s, KUO Wei-Kuo’s has been known for his sensitivity to objects’ inner essence by depicting the hidden anxiety, the obscure atmosphere of melancholy, and the disturbance of conflict in his works. After the lifting of Martial Law in 1987, the art society adopted a more active role to respond to the Taiwanese identity. Among them, KUO Wei-Kuo also created numerous works which suggested a deep desire to break away from the prison-like authoritative system. These works seem full of strong political statement, but they indeed show his ability to analyze human psychology with precision. In the late 1990s when the localization movement became less dominant, the art society returned to the exploration of “the essence of art.” Therefore, KUO Wei-Kuo also made some adjustment and began with the image of his own body. The self-portrait which is filled with the strong “inner experience” in Diagram of Commotion and Desire Series announces the artist’s new direction – the individual’s “consciousness scenery” – which features intensive self-breakthrough, self-criticism, and self-awareness. Since then, the staged body which contains the personal memories, emotions, experiences, and fantasies has become the object reflecting the psychological space of the performance. By revealing various desires buried in the bottom of one’s consciousness, the artist creates a pacifying space of purification to comfort the unsatisfied self and to search for salvation/liberation in our real life.
|English title：||Under a Banana Tree|
|Medium / Classification：||Oil paints and Acrylic colors|
|Collection Unit：||Collection of the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts|
|Contact method for authorization：||
Guide to the Use of Image Files and Data from the Online Collection Database
|Related Exhibition：||"The Pioneers" of Taiwanese Artists, 1951-1960|
|Related Work：||Playing on the Swings Red Ribbon|