《起自荒蕪的蓬勃生機｜Vitality Rising from Desolation》
 Italo Calvino，《命運交織的城堡》（Il Castello Dei Destini Incrociati），P.65，林恆立譯。時報出版社，1999。
We come out of the darkness, no, we enter; outside there is darkness, here something can be seen amid the smoke; the light is smoky, perhaps from candles, but colors can be seen, yellows, blues, on the white, on the table, colored patches, reds, also greens, with black outlines, drawings on white rectangles scattered over the table. 
──“The Castle of Crossed Destinies”, Italo Calvino
The description by Calvino might be about a pub in an unknown place at unknown time, but when facing Wu Shang-Yung’s artworks, the scene emerges naturally. Or, you imagine yourself in a bizarre realm after volcano eruption, the sky is enshrouded in thick inky clouds, stirring dust and flying ash blanket the entire horizon. All light is sucked in to a black hole, there is no way to escape.
Nevertheless, the overwhelming solitude brings hope, what is buried could become the soil for blossoms in the coming spring. You always have the faith that sun only hides behind the heavy haze temporarily, it eventually will push away the dusty air and shine again. As time goes by, places once barren could be transformed into fertile lands; new lives are given birth, a lush green forest finally takes shape.Or, you realize that you are standing at the foot of a castle where vines crawl all over above your head, even you crane your neck so hard you still can’t see the top of it. In a trance you spot the colored streamers embellishing the piers. You might experience your own humble existence in a grand, precipitous mountain reminisces of a gigantic monument, and as breeze whisks over pine woods, waves of trees rustling are in earshot. Now you discover that you are actually by the silver waterfall in Fang Kuan’s painting Travelers Among Mountains and Streams; being one of the figures wearing a bamboo hat and carrying baskets with a shoulder pole, you are going across a bridge. Hiking along the gurgling stream, you will encounter a caravan at the narrow mountain trail and exchange words for casual conversations as time has become irrelevant ...
These are all the scenarios developed from Wu’s art, some might have truly happened despite the plots are not concretely structured. And because they are not confined, many ambiguous episodes could be further staged. There are always clues leading the perspective of the audience for further exploration, leaving them in winding paths, sometimes completely wonderers. Fortunately it is not a bad thing to be drifted apart; the world does not end at the edge of mountains or waters.Breaking away from our habitual angle of seeing, we will find ourselves an expansive world of arcadia. Wu has pointed out that, “In the highly developed environment, man-made structures including roads and buildings constitute a variety of appearances with natural landscapes. Surrounded by them, we come up vague, synthetic impressions of our environment, and the relationship between subjectivity and objectivity becomes blurred nevertheless rigid.” The artist’s statement has clearly clarified the attempt of his abstract painting; he deconstructs the cityscapes we are so used to and reinvestigates the original connotations contained in different objects, volumes, and structures. More importantly, he reinvestigates the position of mankind.
Series works Interweaving with Distance have gone beyond the limitations of ink on paper commonly applied medium. He spreads layers of ink washes, calculates the density of black based on white to present uncommon textures and volumes in his paintings. He elaborately draws large chunks with fine brushes, reminding viewers the various fashions of “wrinkling” that has been experimented endlessly by Chinese painters and calligraphers. He successfully transforms the high, deep and level perspective in Chinese landscapes, and meticulously inlays figurative details in the enormous planes of abstract paintings.Such a combination doesn’t result in any clash, instead they create a impression of surrealism. The efforts of the artist reveal that in addition to his inheritance of tradition, he also continues absorbing new elements and trying new possibilities in order to depict the landscapes whose connotations he keeps in suspense.In Interweaving with Distance II, Wu took aerial views to profile man-made structures such as bridges and expressways that relentlessly run across natural lakes and rivers. Although they don’t really intercept, they have induced the indescribable, mixed feelings of loss and regret from the audience.
Relatively, Fulfilled Actually has simpler narrative, and contains a rich ambiance of traditional Chinese literati art. Lit by silver moonlight, the towering cliff is unusually spectacular, and at the small platform of the rock is an empty hut, secluded and aloof. With the three-quarter moon behind it, a poem describing late autumn is embodied, “Echoes of a pine cone falling into the gorge is heard by people still awake.” Both the painting and the poem refer the capriciousness of fate that seems to be driven by unknown forces. But Wu did not indulge in the literati melancholy over the changes in spring or autumn; tinges of a black dot and an irregular small red chunk emerge in the vibrating, layered texture, subtly freeing the audience from defined angles and adding more interests to the painting.
The author’s attempt is more telling in Diffusing from the Edge, the bluish white diffuses upward from the bottom of the painting, like the mist from crashing waves. As it approaches blackness, a large space is constituted at their edge. The watery scene now becomes mountains viewed from different angles at the same time, and at the end of the world the snow covering the peaks all the year round never melts. Then the endlessly extending mountain ranges and stacked rocks are turned into another spatial-temporal dimension. No center is defined in this painting, there are only overlapping borders diffusing outward with different paces and different black-and-white levels. They manifest that those once appeared never disappear, only they exist in forms unknown to us. The feelings attached bring up a little warmth in winter days, greatly comforting you when you are lost and adrift.
Now you understand that when appreciating Wu Shang-Yung’s art, you can’t stand still like a statue but following the signs, moving your body, embracing your imagination and searching with your eyes in order to enter his world of desolation without fear, and embrace the abundance of power in this philosophical rhythm he has created.
 Calvino, I. (1977) The Castle of Crossed Destinies. trans. Weaver, W. . New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, p.51.