Yuan Jai: Light Within

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2022.2 YJ@MG展览公告CNEN_20220324更新


“Light Within” is a citation from Han officer and scholar Cui Yuan (78-143)’s Zou you ming (motto): “Remain untainted among the grime; the light contained within darkness.” In essence, it means that people with real talents and virtues are humble and reserved, and seek only inner fulfilment instead of outward vanity — a reflection of what the artist admires and wishes to pursue in life.

Yuan Jai: Light Within focuses on Yuan Jai’s recent painting practices, from 2018 to 2020, to explore how she revives the potential of Chinese ink painting by continuously positioning the narrative within the relationship between the individual and history. Only by locating these narratives within continuous—rather than fragmented—cultural processes can the artist enter the realm of life philosophy through the composition of a painting.


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There are different paths up the same mountain
In the depths of the night, they all reveal one thousand snowy cliffs


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On the other side of this labyrinth of stones lies a pool of gently rippling spring water.


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The universe contains a righteousness that flows through all things,
from the rivers and mountains below to the sun and the stars above.
- Wen Tianxiang, “Song of Righteousness”


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By employing many subtle variations in her layers of line and color, Yuan Jai creates fluid tableaus of multitudinous, nonlinear, and centerless motion. The ceaseless fluctuations of color present visions of a vivid, lithe topography. The accumulated sediments of the millennia unite with the dynamic terrain of the present, transforming us into nomads within the moodscapes of her paintings while avoiding an overly concrete intellectual significance. Instead, her work invites us to directly interact with the history and motifs of painting itself.


Photo: Wen Peng
Courtesy of the Artist and Vitamin Creative Space


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[About the Artist]

Yuan Jai was born in 1941 in Chongqing, Sichuan Province, into a family for whom art and culture were part of daily life, and grew up immersed in Chinese calligraphy and painting. In 1958, she entered the Department of Art at the Taiwan Provincial Normal University (now Department of Fine Arts at National Taiwan Normal University), where she laid a solid foundation of Chinese painting skills by learning from many masters, such as Pu Hsin-yu and Huang Chun-pi. After graduation in 1962, she went to Europe to further her studies, first with a master’s degree in the Department of Archaeology and Fine Art History at the Université catholique de Louvain, then with doctoral studies on preservation and conservation of cultural artifacts at the Institut royal du Patrimoine artistique (IRPA) in Brussels. Yuan returned to Taiwan in 1969 and joined the Department of Antiquities of the National Palace Museum in Taipei. There she established the Office of Technology, the first museum department dedicated to the conservation of cultural relics in Taiwan, passing to the museum the knowledge she had learned abroad and coming in contact with masterpieces of Chinese ancient and modern arts.

Yuan Jai did not resume her painting practice until her forties. Since picking up her painting brush again in 1987, Yuan Jai has attempted to find innovative methods of Chinese painting by using the tradition as the foundation, and incorporating the skills and concepts she has encountered and absorbed in the course of her multiple life experiences. In her work, she explores the diverse possibilities of subject matters and colors in Chinese painting. In addition to her innovative experiments with expression methods, Yuan Jai revives the narrative potential of Chinese painting by continuously positioning this narrative within the relationship between the individual and history.


Read More on:
Light Within (Part 2) —Notes on Recent Work by Yuan Jai
Light Within (Part 1) —Notes on Recent Work by Yuan Jai


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Yuan Jai: Light Within

Exhibition Duration: February 5 – April 16, 2022
Exhibition Venue: Mirrored Gardens
( Hualong Agriculture Grand View Garden, Panyu, Guangzhou )
Daily Opening Hours:
Wednesday to Sunday, 11am to 5pm • Closed on Monday and Tuesday (hours may vary)

Please reserve a time slot to visit via the official website of Mirrored Gardens.

Website: mirroredgardens.art
WeChat: mirroredgardens
Tel: +86 20-31043759
Email: mail@mirroredgardens.art
Press: PR@vitamincreativespace.com


[ About the Artist ] >>




Exhibition views of Yuan Jai:Within at Mirrored Gardens, Guangzhou, 2022.
Photo: Wen Peng
All works of art by Yuan Jai ©the Artist
Courtesy of the Artist and Vitamin Creative Space


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