Contemporary art in Taiwan today
Artistic activity in the modern age, intimately related with the political, institutional context and progressive opening up of Taiwan to the global economy, allowed the establishment of the bases of contemporary art and its inclusion in the global art scene of the 1990s. The lifting of martial law and the redesign of the art market in Taiwan (with Art Taipei being one of the most important art fairs in Asia), unveiled the poser of the traditional painting and calligraphy schools: an alternative space created around the avantgarde, and installation, photography and video art took on an unprecedented protagonism.
The financial involvement of the institutions, the government and private companies were already aware of an enormous surge and reformed the system of artistic education. The exhibitions committee adopted western codes and organised exhibitions centred on the thematic discussions.
Contrary to the previous period, public museums enthusiastically embraced this move to inscription in the global scene with their role in the Taipei Biennial, the Taiwan pavilion at the Venice Biennial and though foreign exchanges: the importance of cultural diplomacy for Taiwan should be remembered, given the geopolitical situation of the island. Contemporary art in this respect is a fundamental pivot for its political action.
The contemporary scene in Taiwan today, like in the West, tends towards a younger and above more diverse nature than its predecessors. This is reflected in the spaces for exhibition and diffusion that combine public institutions, foundations, private galleries in a global market, artist-run- spaces, artist residencies, etc. We can list some of the most important places:
Taipei Fine Arts Museum: founded in 1983 as the first modern and contemporary art museum in the twentieth century in Taiwan has held the “Taipei Biennial” since 1998 and has organised the “Taiwan Pavilion” in the Venice Biennial since 1995.
Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art opened in 2001. Holds exhibitions by young artists.
C-Lab – Taiwan Contemporary Culture Laboratory began to operate in 2018, located in the old Air Force headquarters, progressively opening up new spaces dedicated to more emerging art practices in these huge premises.
Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts is an art centre and museum located on a university campus (National University of the Arts of Taipei) with a very interesting programme of exhibitions.
Museum of National Taipei University of Education another art centre located on a university campus.
Taichung National Museum of Fine Arts opened in 1998 with exhibitions covering the modern and contemporary periods.
Kaoshiung Museum of Fine Arts was founded in 1994 with exhibitions covering classical, modern and contemporary periods.
Hong-Gah Museum a private museum dedicated to contemporary art with exhibitions curated by local and international artists.
Art Taipei is the international contemporary art fair based in the city of Taipei that connects with the avant-garde of art from around the world to explore international artistic trends.
Taipei Artist Village/Treasure Hill is a a space and programme of artists residencies located on two sites in Taipei: Taipei Artist Village in the city centre and Treasure Hill in the location of the foundation in the south of its current centre.
The artist-run-spaces are changing environments in continual movement due to gentrification and the property business. The cases of “Huanshan 1914 Creative Park” and “Songshan Cultural & Creative Park” in Taipei and “Pier-2 Art” in the city of Kaoshiung are good examples: claimed by artists these spaces have been subject to commercial pressure which has converted them today into mere recreational and commercial premises. In spite of this, spaces such as Taipei Contemporary Art Center, the et@t space(founded by the artist Huang Wen-Hao), The Cube Project Space in Taipei, or J-Third Art Space in the city of Taichung, among many others, have been offering independent curatorial outlooks for many years.