Liu Chyi-wei, an Oriental Modern PrimitiveLiu Chyi-wei, an Oriental Modern Primitive by Pedro Tseng(曾長生) Liu Chyi-wei (劉其偉)whom people call Chyi-lau was born in the same year that the Republic of China was founded (1911). In his life, he experienced a gamut of feelings, the sadness, difficulty, joy and bitterness of life. These rich life experiences nourished his free-spirited and open-minded aspirations, his love of humanity and his love for nature. He was a man who loved life and faced its challenges with courage. He worked hard in the fields of engineering and archeology, exploring, teaching, writing, painting etc. All this is revealed in his frank open style. In the culture and art circles of Taiwan , he did not boast of being great; nor was he involved with the issue of localization versus the purely oriental or western styles. In modern painting circles he was considered “a primitive;” in the cultural anthropological field he also was ranked as being “uncivilized.” This is a characteristic of the modern primitive and an “old impish child.” He can thus be classified as a modern primitive of Taiwan . The stiff conservative art system of Taiwan is limited in its few potential opportunities of creating original works of art. Nevertheless, Liu Chyi-wei was able to freely bring forth new ideas, unrestrained by being outside the system. His creative foundation was based on a flexible and energetic training and pluralistic creative experiments. This is the first step in an anti-systematic education. It is related to his research and absorbing new ideas of painting. He knew both Japanese and English and 融資thus could directly understand their documents in the original and absorb the thought of modern western art. Although he had not received professional training in what he was doing, his accomplishment in drawing theory was even more professional than that of an academic professor of fine art majors. His art source came neither from Chinese tradition nor from maintaining western culture. The life power of his creativity flowed mainly from primitive art. Klee’s New Vision offers Unlimited Possibilities Liu Chyi-wei excelled in presenting semi-abstract forms through his artistic imagination; he simplified and transfigured visual reality with a magical transformation. It is as primitive as the pure truly mysterious world. In his mature period, his presented works, the “Twenty-four Seasonal Periods” series and the “Twelve Horoscope Figures” series, are widely the focus of attention. These works are obviously influenced by Paul Klee and Miro whom he admired. Klee once stated that biology is a mysterious symbol of the human spirit. It contains the mythology of nature, where the so-called myth symbolizes various free poetic creations of nature. Klee expressed it in a clear, pure, true language; people can rediscover themselves from plants or animals. With love and careful observation of Klee’s works, Liu everlastingly reflected this in his work. His art expresses that all creation has spirit. This childlike characteristic is entirely in tune with primitive art. Based on a pantheistic background it sees all creation as having spirit and life including stones, fish, birds etc. Klee’s new visionary philosophy became not only the important 太平洋房屋educational plan of the Bauhaus but also influenced modern art and brought revolutionary changes. In the concept of form, changing positions and transforming viewpoints are essential qualities in current life experiences. Klee deeply believed that art should be totally apart from an academic imitation of nature’s outward appearance. Instead having unlimited analysis, the artist must care about his own experience and change. Art is a prehistoric vision. In the clear world, the artist studies nature; he does not imitate its appearance but through its phenomena, his painting is the nature we see through our eyes. It should be interpreted with “pure form” and color. These natural forms come from the deepest part of one’s personal subconscious. Like Malevich and LeCorbusier said, only in pure feeling can pure form exist. This pure method can offer the artist an unlimited possibility and mystery. Liu Chyi-wei once designed an art class in which the skill-teaching process suggested the elimination of plaster statues and a change to live human bodies. Further he recommended referring to the “teaching notes” of Klee’s theory and designed brand new teaching materials. In truth, like Klee said, “Rather than teaching students to learn skills, teach them the imagination.” In the “Twelve Horoscope Figures” series, he collected the form and color of the objects and transformed them; he mixed them in his painting with his care for nature and a rich imagination and life feeling. He did the “Twenty-four Seasonal Periods” series from his childhood memories; particularly they are from a lunar calendar book of the countryside printed by wood 酒店經紀engraving. Most average artists reflect on nature but Liu Chyi-wei draws entirely from what is in his heart. His paintings portray his life thought; he has broken the barrier between sense and sensibility with a high quality of vigorously searching his mind. Primitive Thinking as the Origin of Artistic Creation The “Twelve Chinese Horoscope Animals” series of Liu Chyi-wei leads us into a wonderland and draws mainly from his wild native thinking. He admired the primitive philosophy of the cultural archeologist Claude Levi-Strauss; here the so-called primitive means an archeologically deified nature not that of barbarians. It is as Levi-Strauss said to “know the real meaning of life one need only listen to the cries of the wild native”. Liu Chyi-wei advocated that an aesthetic, educational class of “Art and Life” should not be taken in the traditional physical teaching method; but should ask the help of cultural archeology and seek an alternative wild native, non reasonable “primitive philosophy.”  Primitive philosophy belongs to primitive art in cultural archeology; it has developed primitive thinking and primitive aesthetics. He uses the theory of universal soul and religion as its foundation. His thought is very close to the religious viewpoint of the universal. Primitive philosophy is the logic of the non-logical primitive. In the early 20th century this thought was developed by western expressionists Gauguin, Picasso, Klee, Kandinski and Henry Moore as primitivism. To examine art from the viewpoint of cultural archeology, the method is different from that of the art history and traditional aesthetics. Archeology gives G2000undue emphasis to exploring artistic quality as the reduction of human thinking. So called primitive thinking and primitive aesthetics aim at the basic work of artistic creation. They explore styling through primitive art, examining different kinds of functional systems which occur in art; seeking art as the most primary and most internal essence and spirit. Therefore Liu Chyi-wei believes strongly in a return to the original state of society’s background and the observing of activities of primitive thinking and primitive art such as among religious and wild native customs, myth, sorcery and styling activities. These are the most suitable fields or most suitable aesthetic education for all citizens. A characteristic of wild native thinking is that there is no sense of time. The primitive wants to hold the whole world of both the contemporary and the eternal. Wild native thinking draws support from the imaginary world deep in its own knowledge; it establishes a different heart/mind system similar to the world and moves forward with understanding in the world. In this sense, wild native thinking can be said to be a kind of simulated thinking. Levi-Strauss explained this in his classical work on “primitive thinking” and gave an example, “Aborigines mix the living things of natural phenomenon. This means that God and soul are mixed with other people who have souls. Aborigines acknowledge sensitively the concreteness of their knowledge; they know what animals do and what a beaver, a bear, a salmon and animals need. This is because a long time ago people had been married to animals; they got this knowledge from their animal spouses. Their 貸款ancestors had married animals and learned their customs and passed this knowledge from generation to generation.” From his birth, Liu Chyi-wei lost his mother’s love; so he was adored and raised by his grandmother. His grandmother told a lot of stories; the most unforgettable one was the story of the Po-yo bird. “Once upon a time, there was a poor family and during the dragon festival the grandson cried to have rice wrapped in bamboo leaves. The grandmother had no money to buy rice to be wrapped, so she put dirt in the wrappings to give him joy. Unfortunately the grandson ate the fake food and died. The grandmother was so sad and cried day and night, but the grandson became a beautiful little bird and came to the tree at the grandmother’s front door and cried ‘po-yo’ every sunset.” This sentimental Po-yo bird image is in over ten of Liu Chyi-wei’s “Loud cries at dusk” paintings. A Self-Portrait: Like Picasso’s Expression of Human Love In his “Self-portrait” series some of Liu’s work absorb the nutritious aspects of primitive people. In the spiritual realm these people think that God gives them sexual aspects from which they bring magic to life. This series accepts the life-giving power of primitive art. Liu’s sexual/love work blends the imagination with humor. He portrays the enjoyment and interest in making love with a respect for sex. His work is similar in comparison to Picasso’s late period diaries of sexual love in his quick sketch painting. Among primitives, members of the same tribe see the man’s penis as the source of life. Sex is pure and symbolic with nothing to be ashamed of; though their culture is simple 襯衫and poor, in their society they can never have rape or stealing. Ancient western female nudes symbolize innocence and purity. Originally they built upon a high natural consciousness of form. Nudity does not appear in early traditional society because contemporary society was controlled by the male’s dominance. The invention of the chastity belt in ancient times created an especially unequal conflict in interpretation. Nowadays the female liberation movement pursues the open, equal, natural beauty of the nude. It should not be equated with obscene painting; rather it should reflect the female self in the best language. Freud was very concerned with sexual symbols as an important foundation of dream analysis. Sex and psychiatry are very close. Freud thought beauty sources from sexual feeling. Art belongs to sexual desire. Sexual energy transfers into a higher level of cultural art energy. It is the “sexual sublimation theory.” Greek myths interpret sex; they not only recognize it belongs to the common people but also belongs to God. Freud created the Oedipus complex by borrowing from the Greek myth of patricide and the marrying of one’s mother story. Picasso’s work draws a lot of material from sex like his great works “ Guernica ” and “War and Peace.” There is not only curiosity for sexual expression but also an experimental style using cubism and the surrealistic method. The highest goal is to pursue an existing sense of the tragedy of the human world and an expression of human love influenced by Picasso. While primitive art influenced Liu, he learned from the outside shape of nature‘s change to the abstract. Especially as in a 結婚lot of Picasso’s work, the subject is sex displaying the expression of human love. So also Liu himself becomes the interpreter of sexual material. Liu had once run naked on Penghu ’s Wang-an; he felt that in such running one can disregard the etiquette of politeness. Further, wearing nothing was a symbol of totally no restraint or bondage. He thought that a painter full of energy has the health from which to create. Sex is symbolic of a healthy life, he announced in his particular book, Eroticism in Literature and Art. “Primitive art inspires artistic creation with such power that the African aborigine’s optimism can tolerate the difficulties of life and also know how to enjoy life. In the mentality of the African, life power is the center of thinking.” Liu wished that he could become an African in his next life. A Tolerant and an Adventurous Life Philosophy Comes from the Primitive Principle In Liu Chyi-wei’s late period, he usually portrays himself in a joking way as a clown. He begins by expressing his inner feelings in a humorous way; the audience will recognize his unimposing wisdom, innocent honesty and sense of humor from his light-hearted painting surface. He has a lot of nicknames like “old impish child,” “old wizard” and “ London beggar.” His famous quotes are well known by many, “I’m a rough person, but I’m a reasonable wild man.” “Young people, go ahead and chase fame and profit, but I’m not telling you to steal.” “Being second is being a loser on the surface, but actually you are a winner.” “Among so many great men, I am just a mouse.” “When a person is not by courtesy, that is the most comfortable 資產管理公司moment.” “Art’s highest mission is not the aesthetic, but love.” In his “In the Painting Studio—Self Portrait” series, when he is alone and paints in the nude, he loves the kind of interactive response between humanity and all god's natural creation from nude contact. He lives in a primitive truth. In another series, “The Pirate Captain—Self Portrait,” he says, “I love money but I don’t spend it in the nightclubs. However I do want to rob from the rich and give to the poor.” In “The Environmental Education Representative—Self Portrait” series, it is as he mentions, “Love is from learning.” In my early period, I was a hunter, but right now I have become a biology protection supporter. “My love for animals understands what is the heart of sympathy. This is what I got from learning.” Because of his love for animals, he can paint the life spirit of the animals and the dignity of their life. Liu Chyi-wei found it very easy to get along with people and could communicate with the minority tribes in the primitive jungles as well as old and young people and those who have lived in the city. “Among people, aside from language, there are many ways to communicate. The most important is that they feel they can trust you and be close to you.” This is the belief of Konrad Lorenz who is a master in the animal behavior theory field of study. He believed that even in an animal society that does not catch one’s eye, animals have their own signals to communicate their feelings and express their ideas using only their language. Animals can build mutual understanding and close relationships with other animals. They can not only 關鍵字行銷express their feelings better than humans and observe colors better than man but they can react to a very tiny fine expression.” Actually Liu Chyi-wei never felt the worn-out worker spirit or the lowly self-degradation of being second. Both are from the primitive principle for the boundless jungle. When people think of such, most of them think of it with mystery and fear. Liu Chyi-wei, however, thinks of it with respect and inspiration for life and nature. “Normal people always think that the jungle is like the enemy to humans, but I think it its very intimate. A poisonous snake or wild animal is much more polite than people in the city are, unless you harm them. The jungle can bring us a lot of knowledge and inspiration.” The general view of Liu’s life is no doubt a sincere execution of his “wild native philosophy.” As Levi-Strauss says, the primitive is storing thinking, but we are exchanging thinking; such intensive logic of content and form cannot be separated. This kind of meaning and function composed the world. We re-witness that the time is coming when heaven is “God walking the earth and resting among the goddesses.” Let the universal primitive thinking principal regain a leading position. In the primitive world the main content is contained in this message. The work of Liu Chyi-wei successfully executes this kind of primitive thinking. He can thus be called an Oriental modern primitive. Pedro Tseng (曾長生)is an art creator and an expounder on art culture. (Translated by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D. and Monika Keating) 


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