Returning to My Origins(回到太初)
     I was born in Yilan, Taiwan into a family descended of settlers. When I was a child, I moved to Beiping (now Beijing). Beiping, where the land spread uninterrupted to the horizon, was very different from Yilan. I will never forget the ten years I spent there. At dawn, peddlers went from alley to alley, their low voices echoing in the brisk morning air as if to break the frozen sleep of the city. The population of Beiping was then two million people, about one tenth the current figure, and the city was under the harsh military rule of the Japanese Army. Nevertheless, its citizens carried on with an air of composure befitting the ancient capital.

    I came to Japan from mainland China just after Japan had gone to war with the United States. I stayed there for several years, then left a few days before the great Tokyo air raid. As a student at the Tokyo Fine Arts School (now Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music) at Ueno, I was obliged to learn the Asian values of Truth, Goodness and Beauty. The School had taught this Asian values from its beginnings under headmaster Okakura Tenshin. They were convinced that the traditional Japanese arts represented the crystallization of various ideas coming from the immense Eurasian culture over time. It was a view completely different from that of the military clique, whose proclamations throughout the world were reminiscent of those of the ignorant and boastful. With the outside world so full of destruction and violence, I felt that my teachers at the   Tokyo Fine Arts School were acting as guardians of beauty and tradition.

    The time when I enjoyed the freedom to let my mind wander through the riches of the past nourished my spirit and has provided the basis of my art. At the same time, this very same freedom of mind threatens to slow the advancement of culture in the 20th century. It seems to me, for example, that 20th century artists have raised controversy after controversy under the banner of critical reason, but have failed to propose a specific answer, to the great perplexity of the masses. The ascetic search for truth in art is no longer valued, and seems to have given way to self-important indifference.

    It is my belief that an artist should not cynically turn his back to his time, but should instead be thoroughly involved in it, reaching out to those in perplexity and turning people’s minds toward hopes for the future. Beauty should comfort the perplexed and give encouragement in the face of failure. This is what I see as the ideal form of the “lifescape” with which I propose to meet the 21st century. I extend my sincere gratitude to the Hakone Open-Air Museum and to everyone who has made this exhibition possible. Your understanding and devotion has enabled me to come back to Japan, my cradle, after half a century.

August, 1997

    Yuyu Yang
原載 《呦呦楊英風展──大乘景觀雕塑》頁8-9,1997.8,日本箱根:雕刻之森美術館