Under the title of “The Immaterially Enlightened Sojourner of the Crevice”, this article seeks to discuss Meng-chang WU’s sculptural work. The idea of “immaterial enlightenment” is inspired from Journey to the West, where the life of Sun Wukon and his relationship with stones can be used to read the art practice of Meng-chang WU. Since Wukong directly translates into “awakened to emptiness”, this layer of connotation may be used to help us further delve into, and connect with the inner spiritually of his work, which act as reflections of the artist’s own sculptural enlightenment. Emptiness is neither complete nothingness nor vainness, but transcends dualistic opposition. Here, two begets one and vice versa. To be empty is to understand and eliminate all superficial semblance, and to see reason holistically beyond simple biformity. Meng-chang WU has developed numerous dialectical dialogues in his work by harnessing the associations between figuration and abstraction, positive and negative spaces, as well as the natural artificial order. To this end, he has become awakened to the way of sculptural emptiness.
Concretely speaking, the crevices on his work often appear as simple straight lines crossing the stone’s surface, yet these lines are also dark and enigmatic, denying viewers a complete view of the interior. The crevices are incredibly subtle, at times even making the ellipsoid stone sculptures appear untouched, when in fact, they had already been resoundingly split. These are the rifts parting life and death, exteriority and interiority, heaven and earth, as well as the beginning and the end. Here, stones of different color, texture and character overlap and build on top of one another, finally amalgamating into a unitary dialogue. This rift could also be seen as wellpolished margin, caught in a reality where it had been violently torn to reveal the innards.
One can see from the crevices the artist’s continuous thought process, as well as his role as an active “sojourner” within the crevices. As the crevices stretch from the inside to the outside, extending into the environmental space where the sculpture lives, we arrive at point where the outside and the inside are stitched together. In turn, the role of the artist here is to keep this balance on a fine wire. In doing so, he allows the viewer to reevaluate heaven and earth in a surprising new light.
In the end, we can say nature is Meng-chang WU’s muse. This however, is not simply a superficial nature, but the fundamental principle within a complete natural cycle. Through life and death, we see the efforts and glory of the living, as well as the solemn transcendence and violence of death itself. It runs through people as a combiner of life that may sometimes manifest in superficial forms, but could also be contained within an inconspicuous stone. In the end, there really is no perceivable difference.
Therefore, it can be said that Meng-chang WU’s work presents a profound life experience, fully evident in his work as they reflect and reveal a vernacular of color, space, material, texture and form. In other words, he has invigorated the spirituality within his material of choice.
Be it through the way of life or religio-philosophical thinking, Meng-chang WU retrospectively reflects the truth of the natural life through his own work. We can, therefore, say that this “sojourner of the crevice” has finally arrived at his innermost sentiment, where he’s able to attentively listen to his own texture, character, and emotional warmth, finally realizing that the carving, polishing and tempering he’s executed in the past were not done only to the stone, but to his very own disposition. All of this is without doubt.