【A History of Taiwanese Modern Art (Part 1): A Quest for the Everlasting Bloom】
“Why were so many students or young people in their twenties and thirties willing to devote themselves to creating art? Why did these youths believe that artistic creation could change Taiwanese society to the extent that they would be willing to sacrifice their lives for this aspiration?” In an interview, Professor Yen Chuan-Ying reveals the ideal of the artists in the 1920s and the 1930s.
Over a century ago, Huang Tu-Shui, Chen Chih-Chi, Chen Cheng-Po and many other artists dedicated their life to artistic creation; laying the foundations of Taiwanese modern art. 100 years later, a research team led by Yen Chuan-Ying of Academia Sinica has strived to unearth and study this artwork, created long ago, and scattered amongst the artists’ decedents, private collectors, public institutions other than art museums, and even foreign countries. The team has since embarked on a search for these works together with the curatorial team of the Museum at the National Taipei University of Education (MoNTUE). In August 2019, “Inside the Arts” started filming the many people who endeavored on this journey for over a year in order to produce two special episodes, respectively entitled A Quest for the Everlasting Bloom and Exploring the Unfinished Landscape.
A Quest for the Everlasting Bloom seeks to understand the sprit of the era through the work of Chen Chih-Chi and Huang Tu-Shui, two dedicated artistic geniuses, who departed this world much too soon. The production team visited CHEN Chih-Chi’s only son CHEN Zhao-Yang, now 93, along with his grandson, Tzu-chih Chen, to discuss how they saw their father and grandfather. Both men later provided insight into the lonely aspirations of Chen Chih-Chi who chose to study modern art in Japan after being forced to withdraw from Taipei Normal School in the wake of student protests.
Huang Tu-Shui can be considered the father of Taiwanese modern art but very little of his work survives. In 1920, he created the piece, “Bust of a Girl” at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts. Huang eventually gifted the bust to his alma mater, Daidotei Public School (now: Taiping Elementary School); however, the piece has never been formally exhibited to the public for almost 100 years. The restoration of “Bust of a Girl” in preparation for public display is an important focal point of this exhibition.