Events | "Floating Poetry, Meandering Mindscape" Solo Painting Performance by Yahon Chang

Floating Poetry, Meandering Mindscape

Solo Painting Performance by Yahon Chang

Location: St. Elisabeth-Kirche, Invalidenstr. 3, 10115, Berlin, Germany

Performance Date: Saturday April 29, 2023

Performance Timings: 6:00 - 7:00pm

Book Signing: 7:00 – 7:30pm



On the occasion of Berlin Gallery Weekend, Yahon Chang Studio and Kultur Büro Elisabeth gGmbH are pleased to present Floating Poetry, Meandering Mindscape, a 60-minute solo painting performance by leading Taiwanese painter Yahon Chang (b.1948). Taking place at the storied St Elizabeth-Kirche, on Invalidenstrasse, this one-off performance is curated by Manu Park (Korean, former director at Nam June Paik Art Center) and will feature musical accompaniment by Adele Bitter on violoncello and Holger Groschopp on piano in compositions by Isang Yun (1917-1995). Following the performance, the artist will sign copies of his new monograph Yahon Chang: Painting as Performance, published by Hatje Cantz Verlag and available to order now. 


Yahon Chang is a contemporary ink painter who transforms the Daoist and Zen Buddhist spontaneous brush painting and calligraphy practices of the Tang and Southern Song Dynasties into a live, site-specific performance. Typically standing on large sheets of linen or xuan paper, and wielding a brush almost as long as he is tall, Chang creates works imbued with performative energy, and characterized by large, sweeping brushstrokes. Drawing on Chinese and Zen (Chan) Buddhist traditions, the artist understands painting as an activity that connects body, mind and spirit; his entire body functions as an axis for these expressive paintings, whose controlled energy is the product of Chang’s decades of training in calligraphy and Chinese martial arts. These exercises impart both motor memory and inner strength, so that in his seventies Chang is stronger than in his youth.


Mesmerizing and overwhelming, Chang’s ink painting performance creates a sense of transcendence in the fluidity of space, embodying the feeling of being transported over flowing water to a place beyond the actual. His act of painting, which consists of drawing, dripping and even pouring the paint on canvas, evokes a phreatic zone or internal reservoir in each viewer’s mindscape. As things progress in his performance, fuelled by the centrifugal force that explodes toward exteriority and appropriates it, a dark maelstrom is activated that begins to flood the figures of sentient beings drifting on the painting’s surface.


Floating Poetry, Meandering Mindscape 流觴曲水, the title of this performance event references a long history of literary artistic gatherings. The Orchid Pavillion Gathering of 42 literati, including—most notably Wang Xizhi (王羲之, 303-361)—took place during the Spring Purification Festival. The attendees engaged in a drinking contest known as “floating goblets” in which rice-wine cups were floated down a small winding creek along whose banks sat the waiting participants. Whenever a cup stopped, the person closest to the cup was required to empty it and write a poem. In the end, twenty-six participants composed thirty-seven poems.


Inspired by this historical, poetic event and longing for a utopian garden-like community, Yahon Chang’s performance delves into the moment of creating an indecomposable space where his act of painting brings us to a mystical union with the essence of being itself. His poetic imagination, with its fleeting lucidity, inhabits our elusive being. In collaboration with Isang Yun’s music, Chang’s performance allows us to experience for ourselves the constitutive phenomena of the Orchid Pavillion Garden in their indecomposable totality, in their indistinction, in their reciprocal penetration and in their movement and fluidity.


To watch the live performance, please refer to YouTube.


April 28, 2023