Born in Chiayi, Taiwan in 1959, WANG Wen-Chih graduated from Fine Arts Department at Chinese Culture University. In 1988, he won the Honorary Mentions of the New Prospect for Chinese Modern Art awarded by Taipei Fine Arts Museum with his sculpture work Nature's Accusation. In 1990, he went to Paris, France for advanced studies. During his stay in France, he had realized that art should always root in one's homeland. Only when one had some profound exploration of one's hometown could an artist extend the depth and the width of one's artistic practice. In 1994, he was determined to return to Taiwan. With the intention to trace back to his origin, he came to the mountains of Chiayi in search of the artistic inspiration and nutrition.
Many of WANG Wen-Chih's artworks in the 1990s featured disastrous images of trauma, wound, and mourning. The strong and tough logs as the main materials in his works shows a mixed sense of regret and splendor, reflecting the merciful spirit grieving for the mother land being destroyed by natural disasters. How humans and nature co-exist with each other has always been his main concern throughout his artistic practice. Through the intimate life experience living with nature, rattan and bamboo thus become his major materials for their soft-weaving quality and flexibility. He develops a shape of "the full contact between body and nature," which is a giant vessel to pacify one's body and spirit. His large installation works are both sculpture and space construction. Through a cavelike main space, the artist awakes viewers1 from their long-sleeping physical memories and sensory perception which has been separated from nature for a while. Meanwhile, the twine, the gap, and the knots in the weaving structure force viewers to adopt certain physical movements - running, crawling, or walking - to enter the main space. The primitive instinct which has once been tamed by the urban life is now awaken to start a conversation with nature.
Taiwan's art in the 1990s had past the passion and the provocation around the lifting of Martial Law. Both subject and form showed impressive variety while each style established its own uniqueness. Meanwhile, with the help of the growing economy and a more-and-more open cultural policy, exhibition spaces also showed greater possibilities as they gradually replaced the painting groups formed in the 1980s to become the major driving force in the development of art. The so-called “exhibition spaces" include art museums, alternative spaces, unoccupied spaces, and the outdoor art festivals organized by each local government. The various uses of space were supported by the development of a curatorial system, offering installation art a relatively advantageous position in this art trend.
Among the numerous installation artists, WANG Wen-Chih uses local Taiwanese bamboo and rattan to weave various shapes of his unique style. In 1997, he was invited to present his very first outdoor large- size work The Big Closet in the exhibition Installation Art in Taiwan -Landscape, City, Symphony in Chiayi. He used logs to build up an inner space symbolizing Mother's body, while the giant monument-like appearance echoes the trauma caused by the frequent natural disasters on the mother land. Since then, building a cave or other images similar to Mother's body has gradually become the major theme in WANG Wen-Chih's artistic practice. The visual focus in his artworks has always surrounded a space to pacify one's heart. The use of bamboo and rattan allows him to combine the tunnel-like structure in his production of assimilated environment while it also offers a psychological and behavioral transformation for viewers - as a space-time journey to search for one's home and - by interacting with the artworks.
〈方外〉2001台灣檜木、黄檀、牛樟、藤 350 x 320 x 320 cm 藝術家自藏
Beyond the Site Camphor, Japanese cypress (hinoki) and rattan Courtesy of the artist
The work uses giant log slices as its materials, while it also adopts the technique of the traditional making of cypress barrels to create an immersive space which viewers have free access to. The space circled by log slices shows a wild and primitive energy as well as the spirit from nature when one sees it, touches it, or tastes it. Standing inside makes one to feel like returning to a primitive forest or a small universe full of life-energy. The work in the exhibition space creates a ritual-like space to evoke inner spirits, allowing viewers to feel the harmonious co-existence with nature here.
〈方外之境Ⅱ〉2014 藤、竹 400x1900X400 cm 尺寸依展出場地調整 藝術家自藏
Beyond the site II Rattan and bamboo Dimensions variable Courtesy of the artist
Beyond the Site II is a site-specific work for the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts' unique architecture structure. Made of bamboo and rattan, the work features WANG Wen-Chih's "prototype of space" - the tortuous channels connecting the main space which is like a vessel, a cave, or other symbols related to Mother's body - which he is best known for. The work in the museum looks organic as if it had its own life-energy. The artist also provides a process of "the full contact between body and nature'1 for viewers. Walking along the channel is like a ritual to trace back to one's origin. During the ritual, we get a chance to re-realize our bodies. Meanwhile, we start a spiritual journey to search for the unknown and to enter a pacifying space surrounded by the warm but yet firm power from nature.