For the exhibition Be Water, the gallery has brought together four artists from East Asia: Zhang Xu Zhan (Taiwan), Je Yeoran (Korea), Li Qing (China), and Tatsuma Takeda (Japan). They all work in different media and in different cultural contexts, which allows us to form a wide web of aesthetic and contentual interpretations around the idea of water as paradox.

Immerse yourself in the various ways in which water is approached in Eastern and Western philosophies, and it becomes clear that this element is of vital importance to the collective perception of humankind. No wonder that artists from all eras and all parts of the world have always been drawn to the theme of water. It is the element from which our ancestors emerged millions of years ago and from which we still emerge today when we leave the womb. Like blood, it is a connecting thread that is the same for all human beings, regardless of their origin.

Everyone knows the saying “be water”, which in a transnational context is usually associated with the Chinese-American actor and martial artist Bruce Lee. It refers to the paradox inherent in water’s ability to be both soft and strong, as defined by Lao Tzu (老子) more than 2,500 years before Lee: “Water is fluid, soft and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is [a] paradox: what is soft is strong.” 

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