Past Exhibition

T'ANG HAYWEN “Paths of Ink – T’ang Haywen Retrospective” at the Shiseido Gallery is the first retrospective held in Japan, of T’ang Haywen (1927-1991), a Chinese artist who spent most of his life in Paris.

T'ang was born in 1927, in Amoy (now Xiamen) and in 1937 moved to Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh) with his family. In 1948, at the age of 21, T'ang left alone for Paris to study medicine, but soon turned his interests to painting. He began by acquainting himself with the works of western artists. Although he never received any formal training thereafter, by the end of the 1960s, he had begun to explore inks and watercolors as his prime artistic medium, and consequently arrived at his unique style that evokes the spiritual aspects of Taoism.

T'ang painted daily, almost in the manner of keeping a diary. In fact, to free himself from the issue of format and to maintain consistency in his artistic practice, he opted to use standard sized paper. The most common format was the diptych configuration made from two pieces of 70 x 50 cm paper conjoined together. The monochrome world of ink that unfolds on this foundation characterizes T'ang's oeuvre, an eminently recognizable style.

T'ang traveled extensively during his lifetime but was virtually unknown during his lifetime. He was a painter who hardly showed interest in pursuing commercial success, but more the simple and genuine joy of painting. His rare sincerity and artistic achievements however, are receiving international recognition these days. In 1996, he was featured in the exhibition "The Tao of Painting" held at the Musee Oceanographique de Monaco, and in the following year, in a retrospective held at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. Between June and September this year, he is given an extensive presentation at the Musee National des Arts Asiatiques-Guimet in Paris.

The show at the Shiseido Gallery will include approximately 50 works, including his signature diptych works from the 1970s, as well as his colorful watercolor pieces. Also on show will be an experimental film shot in 1973 by the American filmmaker Tom Tam, showing T'ang's monochrome works in stop frame animation.

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