From 9 January to 28 February 2016, ESLITE GALLERY will present "Song of Myself: Selected Works of Fu-sheng KU 1960-2015" (curated by Chia Chi Jason WANG). For KU, this is possibly the last solo exhibition in his life. 60 representative pieces are selected from hundreds of works never presented in Taiwan to pay homage to KU as well as offer an overview of his artistic career spanning more than half a century.
Fu-sheng KU was born in Shanghai in 1934 and came to Taiwan when his father General KU Chu-tung brought the entire family over with the Nationalist Army in 1948. KU took to drawing at a young age. When graduating from the Department of Fine Arts at Taiwan Normal University, he had already participated in the exhibitions of Fifth Moon Group, becoming one of the key figures promoting modern art in Taiwan.
Filled with strong emotions and drama, Fu-sheng KU's works exude a rich literary quality and constantly reflect on the issues of human existence. Kenneth Hsien-yung PAI, prominent writer and a close friend, remarks that art is a passionate and persistent pursuit for KU. "If everyone must choose a way of life, painting is my whole life—my thoughts are in my work, and so are my feelings and every detail of my existence." KU faces his art with utmost honesty. Indifferent to trends in art, he prefers to indulge himself in the subconscious world between reality and fiction, allowing his fantasies and dreams to flow spontaneously. Naturally inspired by anything or any situation, his creations spring from his inner sense; time, place, material, color, and lines can all be used as vehicles for expression. KU readily twists his media in rich and diverse ways, gracing his works with whimsical and unconstrained fun and beauty.
Exploring the meaning of life, KU's creation centers around "man" as a vital subject, so that his oeuvre can be associated with modernist and existentialist philosophy. As curator Chia Chi Jason WANG once commented, "Fu-sheng KU's creative enlightenment began with the individual's 'body' and he strives to capture the 'present.' Depictions of distortion and deformation are commonly found in his art." Fu-sheng KU says, "I paint man's inner self as well as his feelings towards the outer world; man's relationship with man, or man's relationship with his surrounding environment and nature. Life is a riddle and a dream. Life is fragile." The complexity of human nature, interpersonal parting, the mysteriousness and desires of the body, and the dream and reality of life... these are the ideas that pervade his art.
Fu-sheng KU's art can be roughly classified into different periods based on the cities he has lived in: Taipei period (1957-1961), Paris period (1961-1962), New York period (1963-1974), San Francisco period (1974-1990), Portland period (1990-2002), Chicago period (2002-2008), and Los Angeles period (2008-Present). In early works, headless bodies are enveloped in infinite solitude and bitterness. In works of the middle years are his contemplations of life and death as well as the juxtaposition of illusion and reality. The recent works now witness his liberation from all worldly restraints and sing praises of life with melodies from a blooming sanctuary. The exhibition "Song of Myself" demonstrates not merely Fu-sheng KU's creative career for more than half a century but a sincere artist's profound fascination in man, living and life in all its endearments.