The Four Elements of Leigh Li-Yun Wen

January 29, 2022–June 19, 2022

The four elements of western cosmology—earth, air, fire, water—are the subjects of artist Leigh Li-Yun Wen’s work. Whether paintings, prints, or ceramics, Wen’s art expresses her personal and cultural histories. Having grown up on the island of Taiwan, she possesses a deep affinity for the elemental power of water and the forces of nature. As a Taiwanese-American artist who has lived in both Taiwan and America, she feels the ebb and flow of competing cultures. The ancient philosophies of her homeland, which teach self-discipline and selflessness, collide and mingle with Western notions of ego, alienation, and desire.

Wen’s working method is a process of subtraction from darkness to light. “I carve into the paint with a stylus to bring forth the individual lines that are the central motif of my work,” she notes. These lines flow across the canvas in rhythms and frequencies that create depths and swells on the painted surface. Something of the self is lost in the resulting tangle and then regained, only to be lost again. Simplicity and harmony exist within the chaos of the world.Color is used to expand the emotional range in Wen’s work: “my palette is drawn not from appearances but from the lyric and psychic necessities of my art.” The uniformity of line, from edge to edge and painting to painting, implies suppression of the artist’s hand in favor of objectivity learned from nature. In spite of this, her work remains deeply autobiographical.


Leigh Li-Yun Wen

Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Leigh Li-Yun Wen is a Taiwanese-American artist who resides in New York City. She received her MFA from the State University of New York at Albany in 1994 and served as a cultural ambassador envoy during the Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations. She has exhibited in eighteen American embassies, consulates, and other government institutions located in countries such as Jordan, Malaysia, Singapore, Namibia, Botswana, Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Denmark, and Poland. Wen was awarded a 1997 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship and was honored to be the Artist of New York State by the New York State Legislature. In 2000, she was again awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship and The Helena Rubinstein Fellowship. In 2001, She won the Lorenzo de Medici Award at the Florence Biennale. In addition, Wen was awarded Artist Grants by the Pollock-Krasner Foundation in 1999 and 2005 and was invited by then-First Lady Laura Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell to visit the White House in 2005. A frequent nominee to a select list of sixty U.S. artists invited to the White House’s annual arts and culture reception, Wen is an artist held in high esteem not only across the U.S. but also internationally, in curatorial and collectors' circles, for her achievements and the unique character of her work. Wen’s works are held in many private and public museum collections, in the permanent collection of the United States Embassy in Barbados, and the American Institute in Taiwan.

藝術家 鄭麗雲 Leigh Li-Yun Wen


1980年在香港被列選國際亞洲十大傑出才藝青年,1983年前往美國留學。先後獲得1999與2005年美國傑克森帕洛克基金會藝術家研究獎、1997與2000年紐約藝術基金會(NYFA)藝術家聯盟獎得主、作品榮獲2001年義大利佛羅倫斯雙年展米提其獎章及2012年玉山獎。目前是美國聯邦政府合約畫家,作品展覽於世界各國的美國大使館,參與的國際展覽超過18次,曾經展出在波蘭、丹麥、約旦、菲律賓、新加坡、包貝多斯、博茨瓦納、賴比瑞亞、非洲的美國領事館,其中包貝多斯展出的三件作品, 和台灣美國在台協會AIT的五件作品,被聯邦政府收購為美國國家的永久典藏。

Virtual Visit: The Four Elements of Leigh Li-Yun Wen

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Exhibition Support

This exhibition is presented by the Taipei Cultural Center in New York, Ministry of Culture, Republic of China (Taiwan).

Leading support has been provided by Omni Development Company, Inc., the Taiwanese American Cultural Society of the Capital District, the University at Albany Foundation, Dorice Brickman, Mr. Alan P. Goldberg, William M. Harris and Holly A. Katz, Vicary and Peter Thomas, and Mr. Daniel L. Wulff. Major support is provided by Eleanor Holbritter Nasner and Margaret F. Holbritter, Mr. Edward Swyer, and Chester and Karen Opalka.

Season exhibition and program support is provided by Phoebe Powell Bender, Mr. and Mrs. George R. Hearst III, Charles M. Liddle III, Lois and David Swawite, the Carl E. Touhey Foundation, Inc., and Candace K. Weir.

Program and exhibition support is made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.

Promotional support has been provided in part by a grant from The Michele L. Vennard Hospitality Grant Program of the Albany County Convention and Visitors' Bureau Fund, a fund of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region.

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