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Ni Tsaichin- 4P and View

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Ni Tsaichin- 4P and View

Date:2009.02.06 ~ 2009.03.08
Reception:2009.02.07 15:00
Curator:Chung Chinghsin

Ni Tsai-chin’s 4P series
By Wan Ping

In the early 1990s, Ni Tsai-chin created a series of oil paintings called “Strange Tales in Taipei,” in which he depicted pubescent pigs and dogs engaging in orgies. Despite these large-scale works’ shocking visual nature and alarming depiction of sexual positions, they still displayed the Chinese literati hsieching style (in which the painter puts his feelings into the painting) and reflected the essence of the traditional Chinese literati philosophy. In these works, Ni organically combined the aesthetic of “ink and pen” with oil pigments to hint at the absurdity of contemporary social and satirize the spiritual decadence of people today.
At the beginning of the decade, Ni Tsai-chin continued this subject this time with large sculpture, creating surreal creatures the size of an adult human that resembled a mix of bear and pig and human and dog. Explicit and pornographic, these sculptures were considered dangerous by conservatives, and stoked controversy, and they whipped up a media circus. Even in Taiwan’s tolerant and open-minded society, these art works became the focus of a conservative backlash and discussion. In the end, even imitation copies appeared. Amid the hullabaloo, most missed the fact that in these works Ni Tsai-chin’s had attempt to instill a Western medium with Eastern spirit and philosophy. Also, very few people realized that his works were rooted in the traditional Chinese literati’s spirit of criticism. Ni’s extreme art works were borrowed ideas that he used to express his thoughts on and criticism of today’s society.

A tactic of contemporary art is to use controversy to trigger debate and attract focus. While the “methods” of controversy of the “Strange Tales in Taipei” oil paintings and sculptures, i.e. their controversial depictions of the “abnormality”, “absurdity” and “ridiculousness” of sexual desire, blurring the deeper significance of these artworks, these “methods” were undoubtedly successful in this era when contemporary art has become alienated.
In 2008, Ni Tsai-chin again employed the orgy concept, this time audaciously applying the theme to the works of current famous artists, sending shockwaves through the artistic world. He turned Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog into four, and depicted them, along with Damien Hirst’s divided cow and famous Japanese artist Takashi Murakami’s “kawai” dolls, taking part in orgies, in three large scale oil paintings known as “Strange Tales in New York”, “Strange Tales in London” and “Strange Tales in Tokyo”.
In their expression and message, these oil paintings differed from “Strange Tales in Taipei”. What Ni Tsi-chin was intending to show in these works was the trend of globalized branding in contemporary art. Employing an ironic method, he was making a joke out of the masters and lifting the lid on contemporary art’s “con game”. Take Takashi Murakami for example. He came to Taiwan at the end of 2007 and started a craze. Murakami understands clearly the development of art history. He uses his cute dolls, whose appearance borders on pornographic, to highlight the sub-culture of society’s less-fortunate. While his works are cheap and unrefined, they stirred the interest of people who saw them. Billions of these trashy plastic dolls are manufactured each year, making the artist one of the best known in Asia.

These star artists’ works fetch exorbitant prices. In Ni Tsai-chin’s point of view, the price an artist commands depends on the size of his country and the limits of his free speech. The cultural might of globalization has deprived artists of culturally weak nations of their right to speak. Through these ironic orgy paintings and sculptures, Ni Tsai-chin also tries to depict the reality behind the joke he makes—to speak for the artists of culturally weak countries.

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