The Breeze from the South by Yolanda Pong

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2023-06-17 ~ 2023-07-16


1F., No. 115, Sec. 4, Ren'ai Rd., Da'an Dist., Tai


Opening Reception|2023 . 06 . 17 sat. 3:30 p.m.


June, the Breeze from the South.

By|Chang Li-Hao

"Color is like cooking. The cook puts in more or less salt, that’s the difference!"

– Josef Albers


I still remember that afternoon, with a slight chill of spring rain falling from the sky, was my first visit to Yolanda Pong’s studio. Following the instructions on Google Maps, I came out of the subway station, passed through a quiet traditional market that was already closed for the day, went up a gentle slope that required no effort to climb, saw a century-old, red-bricked church towering on the right, and witnessed countless changes of the people and life here. Moving on, there were a row of apartments approaching half a century in age, slightly worn by the passage of time, yet still retained some incomparable characteristics of the era, making one linger.


The night's glow flowed, the scenery shimmered like silver.


Yolanda's studio is located on the third floor of one of these buildings. But even so, as soon as you step inside, you immediately notice a completely different atmosphere than the outside. She has arranged her paintings of various sizes in a more lifelike manner for the upcoming solo exhibition. Some depict the soaring silhouette of an eagle on the Earth's surface cast by the fleeting sunlight that passes through floating clouds. Others resemble the shimmering waves reflected on the surface of a lake, enveloping everything in a hazy and dreamlike poetic mood. With vast ink-black dots dyeing the mountains and rocks, some are like the hidden cliffs that can only be vaguely seen in the midst of heavy snowfall, while others are like surging waves that roll up into thousands of piles of snow... Like ripples rising with the wind, different landscapes are constantly refracting with the movement of visitors.


Born into an artistic family, but perhaps due to her personality, Yolanda felt no pressure of having such a renowned grandfather, Pang Xunqin (1906 to 1985), or father, Pang Jiun (1936 to present). And because she comes from such a rich family heritage, Yolanda is familiar with the traditional aesthetics of Chinese painting and calligraphy known as “yunmo er wuseju,” the skill of manipulating ink and color. Her art education background from studying abroad in the United States has also made her well-versed in art forms such as Abstract Expressionism or Art Informel, which emerged in New York after World War II and still exerts influence to this day. It is precisely in the collision and fusion of these two aesthetic ideologies that she has actively and astutely explored her own inner spiritual qualities in the development of her artistic creation, presenting a unique personal style. Since her return to Taiwan from the United States in 2004, Yolanda has spent the past twenty years not only painting, but also experimenting with various media including metals. However, regardless of the medium, achieving pure balance has consistently been Yolanda’s artistic pursuit.


Beyond the form lies a subtle lasting resonance.


Setting the scene, capturing the mood, or creating an atmosphere has always been an important theme in Eastern traditional aesthetics. It means that although creators often draw inspiration from reality, they are not confined to it. On the contrary, they often break the established relationships between subject and object or time and space, and use various artistic techniques to continuously generate and layer the beyond form. This forms a dialogue that weaves back and forth between movement and stillness, reality and imagination, enhancing the whispering soliloquy deep within the artist's soul. Therefore, in her exhibition titled “The Breeze from the South,” Yolanda not only conveys her emotional changes over the past two years, but also ingeniously finds a new connection with nature by drawing inspiration from 24 solar systems. In most of her exhibited works, one can see her deliberate use of neutral colors such as black, white, and gray in acrylic paints. Through rapid brushstrokes and repetitive layering, she constructs subjects that are at times light and at times solemn. Then, intentionally or unintentionally, she adds touches of color such as gold, silver, and copper, bringing the ever-changing natural phenomena of water, fire, wind, and earth into the paintings. Occasionally, there are also some identifiable objects that seem to allude to specific scenes. This not only allows the elements of abstraction and representation to play out and complement each other visually, but also subtly incorporates the cycle of the four seasons into the artwork, fully embodying the true essence of Jin Sunuo's “Youtiantai Fu,”: “Contemplate the myriad phenomena as a whole, merging oneself with nature.”


Joseph Albers once said, “In visual perception a color is almost never seen as it really is—as it physically is.” The juxtaposition of colors always produces variations in two ways: one is related to light, the other to hue. The same color can appear different due to its surrounding environment, and the ultimate nature of color lies in its relationships. Between illusion and transformation, color can move forward, recede, vibrate, and even deform, making it an unavoidable key in artistic creation. However, Yolanda's intention is not to avoid color, but rather to use this opportunity to reexamine color and explore to what extent the pure language of painting can be developed. She does not adopt Joseph Albers’s rational minimalist compositions nor limit herself to the use of automatic techniques. She does not rely on occasional fortuitous gains to progress her works. Most of the time, Pang Yao enjoys communicating with fundamental elements of the language of painting during the creative process, venturing into an open narrative imagination that words cannot describe.


Similarly, at first glance, Yolanda's paintings may bring to mind two of the most representative abstract artists of the 20th century: Zao Wou-Ki and Chu Teh-Chun. However, in contrast to their use of highly saturated colors and intense brushstrokes to create visual tension in their compositions, Yolanda is more interested in using her own efforts to capture the corresponding relationship between nature and creation with a mentality similar to faith. This, in turn, brings a subtle and lasting resonance to the viewer. “When you have not observed the flower, the flower and you are both in silence; once you have observed the flower, then the color of the flower instantly becomes clear, and you realize that this flower is not outside your heart.” As revealed by the Ming Dynasty philosopher Wang Yangming, the mind is the master of all things in the universe, and everything in the world is ultimately a reflection of the inner mirror within us. Through Yolanda's works, viewers may also experience the understanding that life, even though it may occasionally be chaotic and disordered, can ultimately reach a state of tranquility. Even with closed eyes, one can see the strokes, colors, and details, feel the breeze blowing from the painting, and reach a state of tranquility.