Up Art Gallery Archive 阿普畫廊檔案
The Up Art Gallery, situated at 64 Dayong Road, 4th floor, Yancheng District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, occupied a unique position as a cooperative gallery in Kaohsiung during the 1990s. Its primary mission was to curate and exhibit contemporary art while challenging the mainstream art commodities, with the overarching goal of nurturing the development of Taiwan's modern and contemporary art market. Operating from 1990 to 1995, the gallery not only provided a vital platform for contemporary artists in southern Taiwan but also played a pivotal role in laying the groundwork for the city's contemporary art scene by actively collaborating with artists and art spaces in the northern region.
The Up Art Gallery's extensive archive houses over 1,900 documents, encompassing early works by Taiwanese contemporary artists, exhibition images, and a substantial collection of art reviews and trend clippings. This comprehensive collection offers a vivid portrayal of the contemporary art landscape in early 1990s Kaohsiung and its interconnected artist community, providing valuable insights into the artistic and cultural milieu of that era.
The history of the Up Art Gallery is rooted in the transformation of the former 'Avant-Garde Promotion Centre' (前衛藝術推展中心) in the 1980s. Established by Liang Ren-Hong (梁任宏) and fellow artists who were contemporaneously studying in the studio of the artist Yeh Chu-Sheng (葉竹盛), the centre served as a platform for the display and dissemination of avant-garde art materials brought back by artists returning from Europe and the United States. Consequently, it emerged as a pivotal hub for the congregation and interaction of contemporary artists in Kaohsiung during the 1980s.
In 1990, with the aim of establishing a space conducive to exhibiting works that diverged from 'traditional' art forms, Mu Tsan (also known as Chen Mao-Tian 陳茂田), the former manager of the centre, along with six other artists, including Sheu Tzu-Kuey (許自貴), Chen Jung-Fa (陳榮發), Huang Hung-Teh (黃宏德), Yen Ding-Seng (顏頂生), Tseng Yang-Tung (曾英棟), and Hsieh Shun-Sheng (謝順勝), founded Up Art Gallery at the former location of the centre. Up Art Gallery adhered to a strict review-based policy, requiring unanimous approval by all six members before hosting any exhibitions, while only artists above the age of 30 were considered for showcasing.
As the exhibitions at the Up Art Gallery garnered increasing attention, the members made a significant decision in 1992 to establish the 'Up Gallery' in Taipei, with Sheu Tzu-Kuey assuming the role of general manager. This marked the pioneering endeavor of a gallery from the southern region to venture into the northern city of Taiwan. The establishment of Taipei's Up Gallery aimed not only to facilitate artistic exchanges between the north and south but also symbolised Up Art Gallery's initiative to cultivate Taiwan's contemporary art market.
Registered as 'Up Art Development Co., Ltd.' (阿普藝術開發股份有限公司), Up Gallery raised operational capital through shareholder solicitation and committed to monthly acquisitions of exhibit pieces for its collection. This approach sought to stimulate the contemporary art market through the gallery's management of its space, rather than conforming to market preferences in determining the trajectory of its exhibitions.
In 1993, recognising that the gallery space in Kaohsiung was not conducive to the gathering and exchange of artists, the Up Art Gallery established 'Yiam-Tian Up' (塩埕阿普) on the second floor of the same address on Dayong Road, along with a small café for hosting lectures, courses, and informal gatherings.
Subsequently, in 1995, due to factors such as funding shortages and differences in operational philosophies among the shareholders in Taipei, both the Kaohsiung and Taipei branches of Up Art Gallery simultaneously ceased operations. Following this, the space of the Up Art Gallery located on the fourth floor was taken over by Mu Tsan and transformed into the 'Yancheng Gallery' (塩埕畫廊), while the Yiam-Tian Up on the second floor was repurposed into Chen Jung-Fa's studio until 1997.
Description of Series
The Up Art Gallery Archive is organized based on the existing classification of Up Art Gallery, with a focus on its core operation in Kaohsiung. It presents the characteristics of being a gallery through four main sections:
1. Exhibition Files: This includes the exhibition records of Kaohsiung Up Art Gallery from 1990 to 1995, as well as those of Up Gallery in Taipei from 1992 to 1995. It also encompasses exhibition records from other spaces participated by Up Art Gallery, covering artworks, exhibition photos, invitation cards, press releases, and clippings.
2. Artist Files: Contains images of artworks and resumes of artists retained by Up Art Gallery, including both represented artists and those who have exhibited at both the Taipei and Kaohsiung branches.
3. Administrative Files: This section comprises other gallery catalog records, buyer's membership records, exhibition schedule catalogs, and various art-related clippings retained by Up Art Gallery.
4. Others: This covers the house plate and promotional leaflets of Up Art Gallery.
Open for research. Onsite-only and restricted materials—including but not limited to correspondence, newspaper clippings, and unpublished writings—are available for consultation at AAA in Hong Kong, New Delhi, and New York. Please make an appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org at least one week in advance.
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History and Project Team
The materials of this archive predominantly originate from Chen Mao-Tian's residence after 1995, with additional documents sourced from the collection of the Dimension Endowment of Art (DEOA, 帝門藝術基金會), which were believed to have been donated by Ho Chun-Huan (Heather Ho, 何春寰), the former manager of Up Gallery Taipei. The archive's collection process commenced in August 2022 and culminated in the digitization of the materials by October 2023, followed by the online publication on the AAA website in December of the same year.
The project team includes Project Researcher Nicole Wang (汪怡君), along with Project Research Assistants Kyo Hsieh (謝以恭) and Tammy Ho (何沐恬).
The Up Art Gallery Archive is part of the "Independent Art Space of Taiwan" project, supported by the Kwang Hwa Information and Culture Center.