"(a long) way to go" Nai-Jen Yang Solo Exhibition

Carp Gallery, Taichung, Taiwan.

    ‘A long way to go’ literally means something is far away from finishing; however, when you take away the two words in the front, ‘way to go’ means ‘well done’ in American spoken English. To me, this show is kind of like a summery of my current stage. And this is why I gave it this title. (Thanks to Professor Hong-John Lin, who wrote back ‘Nai-Jen with talent, way 2 go.’ in respond to my paper for final; that was where the inspiration came from. Naming is really a hard thing to do.)

    When I was arranging the show, ‘packing’ eventually came up as the main idea/theme, corresponding to my ‘waiting-to-move’ situation under the pandemic in the past two years. I went back to Taiwan from the UK in March 2020, got back to TNUA in September, and finally settled down in Bali in December, just before the end of the year. And now, after a relatively steady year, soon I will be back to London again. And I start to think… how should I pack those ‘all kinds of things’ in my studio… and bring them together with me?    

      So basically, in the show, I move all the paintings I made in Bali, from the end of 2020 to the beginning of this year, to Carp Gallery. It is kind of like a relay station during my journey of moving. And because I didn’t want it to be like I was storing my stuff there unilaterally, plus, because when I was talking to Lydia, we said about that Carp hadn’t had any painting shows yet, but we guessed in the mind of people living near, a gallery should be full of paintings, the idea of filling the wall with paintings came out as a joke in the beginning; and then it became real. One reason was that I do have enough paintings to do that, and the other was that… I always feel like it would be difficult to tell what I am doing if there were only three or five of them. So I made a list, asked Lydia and Yi-Peng to pick out the ones they like. The picked ones are showed on the ground floor, and the rest of them are wrapped and placed like sculptures in the basement.    

    Besides the wrapped paintings, there is also a little book, about the size of a phone, which consist of 99 screen shots from my phone, in the basement. They are the images, which are related to my Bali studio, of photos from my album and my posts on social media. In this book, and in another series of work showed on ground floor titled ‘method’- they are prints of my scaned sketches and drawings of which all the images were erased in photoshop, kept only the notes and marks- I was thinking about how I could involve and present the things that surround the paintings? To me, process is what matters in painting, and the so-called process… may be talking about the way to paint. I am not a flexible person; I am a person who can easily be influenced by the environment or things that are tiny. I am thinking, through these attempts, can I make those which used to be seen as scenes behind become the work itself?

Method, 2022

Packing, 2022

Carp Salon, 2022

Bali Stories (99 pieces)

photo credit | Chung-Ping Wang


43.2x65.6cm or 40.5x55.5cm(with frame) | giclée fine art print, aluminum frame | 2022

    I started this series in order to respond to the fact that when it comes to talking about my work, it seems that I am always able to speak more about ‘how I paint’, instead of ‘what I paint’. I often say that ‘the process of painting is what matters to me.’, and the word ‘process’ refers not only to the drawing or doodling action in painting, but also how I set up or arrange the images, and the way to plan the working procedure.  

    So what I did in this body of work was to scan my drawings and drafts and then erased everything I was about to paint, left only the notes or marks I made. I tried to turn things like these, things that seemed to come from behind the scenes, things that were beside or outside painting, into the work itself.

photo credit | Chung-Ping Wang

'Bali Stories (99 peieces)'

15.7x8.2cm, 200pages | printed on Plato paper, clothbound, gold stamping on cover | 2022

    After making ‘I Really Have a Painting Like This’, I started to get interested in image: image being a tool to record or preserve things, is there any other way I can utilise it?

    When using images, especially the images of my own experiences, I alway feel a need to make them physical; as if I have to give them an actual body, as if I can touch them, before I can truly own them. So when I was thinking how to pack the things that had happened in my studio, the things that were even more fragmentary, photos in my phone and my posts on social media came to my mind. I screen shot those about my studio in Bali and selected 99 pieces of them to made this little book. It became an image diary of that space and that period of time.

photo credit | Chung-Ping Wang

'I Really...... '

dimensions variable | yellow colour pencil, polaroid, frame | 2021

"The Enclave" 
The Asparagus Studio, Taipei, Taiwan.

    ‘I really……’ was made half year after I made ‘I really have a painting like this- Untitled (wires and shadows), 179x150cm, oil on canvas, 2019’. At that time, I was invited to a group show at The Asparagus Studio. Consisting artists who studied abroad in the UK, I thought maybe it would generate different responses to discuss experience like that. Also, I want to see what was my feeling after another six months.

    The main thing was hoping the thing could end up soon and I so could move on. So I took away many things in ‘I really……’; unlike the last time, showing lots of evidence to say that I really had a painting like this. The videos were gone, no more sound, almost nothing left; what you see was a whole white wall only with a polaroid on the right, and when you walked close, you see the yellow grid and marks I drew on the wall.  

    In the video of the first version, I redrew the whole draft of ‘Untitled (wires and shadows)’. But in ‘I really……’, besides the grid, I only drew the marks that I made to remind myself where I was when I first drew the work; so it was not even the draft, it was just the traces of the painting process. When the memory of a painting fades, the painting itself too becomes blurred, the last thing we remember may be the fact that we once painted it before.

photo credit | Chung-Ping Wang

'I Really Have a Painting Like This'

dimensions variable | video, sound, paper, polaroid, frame | 2021

"KARA NO TAMAGO" TNUA Fine Arts MFA Group Show
Underground Museum, TNUA, Taipei, Taiwan.

    I went to study in the UK in 2019, and then came back to Taiwan half year later due to the pandemic. It happened too fast that I had to left most of my work behind; some of the sketches and drawings were even left in my RCA studio.

    After coming back to Taiwan, little by little, I had a kind of feeling that when looking at the photos of my paintings on the phone, I began to doubt whether everything really happened before? Did I really make all those paintings? Suddenly, things I made that supposed to have volume and weight became untouchable images showing on the screen. I started to feel like I couldn’t tell people or even myself that I really had paintings like that.

    So I started to think how a painting could be shown if it only exited in memory? How could it be shown through other media when it became a file? What was I looking at, an image, a photograph, or a painting, when the carrier of it was a screen? Through the screen, did I really see the painting?

photo credit | Chung-Ping Wang