Hidden Talent – Chen Cheng-po Exhibition
地 點：國立故宮博物院105、107展廳 Exhibition room 105 & 107, National Palace Museum
策 展 人：蕭瓊瑞 Hsiao Chong-ray
展場設計：舞陽美術文化事業有限公司 Sunny Dance Creation Co.
2014 is the 120th anniversary of Chen Cheng-po’s birth. To commemorate the occasion, after a series of large-scale touring exhibitions have successively been held in Tainan, Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo, a final exhibition is staged in National Palace Museum. The name of the exhibition is called “Hidden Talent” to highlight how a highly gifted artist who was deeply influenced by the concepts of traditional Chinese ink-wash paintings contributed towards “integrating Chinese and Western art” by assimilating characteristic features of oriental paintings into his works.
In an interview in 1934, Chen Cheng-po said:
“Since I’ve been living in Shanghai, I have a certain amount of knowledge about Chinese paintings. Amongst all artists, I’m particularly fond of the works of Ni Yun-lin and Badashanren. Ni Yunlin had made use of outlines to make his pictures more vivid. On the other hand, instead of using outlines, Badashanren had displayed mastery skill in the use of dry-brush. My works in recent years have been substantially changed under their influences. What I want to present in my pictures is the dynamism of lines and I would make the whole picture livelier by dry brushing. Or shall I say some kind of mysterious force beyond words has permeated my paintings! This is where I focus my efforts when I paint. We are easterners, so we shouldn’t adopt the styles of western painters indiscriminately.”
It is this attitude that this Exhibition is delving into, hoping to present a different version of Chen Cheng-po to viewers.
展場規劃圖 Exhibition planning
展場 Exhibition Ground
‧驚蟄 The Waking of Insects (1895-1924)
From birth until returning to teach school in his hometown upon graduation from the National Language School
Born in 1895, the year in which Taiwan was ceded to Japan, Chen Cheng-po had been deeply influenced by the classical Chinese coaching of his father, who was a scholar in the final years of the Qing dynasty. But then he had also been enlightened by the modern education of Japan. Upon his enrolling in the National Language School (Japanese School) at the Taiwan Governor-General’s Office in 1913 and being instructed by Japanese art teacher Ishikawa Kinichiro, he had undergone a rite of passage and enlightenment in modern art thinking. This had opened to him the door of art exploration and he subsequently made a wish of become a painter.
‧初露 Debut (1924-1929)
Japan period, becoming the first Taiwan painter ever selected for the "Imperial Exhibition"
In order to better himself continuously, Chen Cheng-po gave up a much coveted teaching job and went alone to study in Tokyo School of Fine Arts until he finished graduate school there in 1929. In Tokyo, where exhibition information was abundant and materials on painting were bountiful, where art talents were constantly cropping up and the art environment was agreeable, Chen Cheng-po collected in earnest all the latest art information from Europe. These efforts had contributed towards his understanding of art development worldwide and helped him establish a transnational macro vision, which eventually laid a firm foundation for his becoming an outstanding painter.
‧小滿 Grain Full (1929-1933)
Shanghai period, contemplating modern paintings that integrate Chinese and Western art
After graduated from the Graduate Program of Art Teacher Training Program of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, Chen went to China and accepted teaching offers from such Shanghai art institutions as Xinhua Art College, Chang Ming Art School, and Yiyuan Painting Research Institute. He brought along his family to live with him and embarked on a vital journey in his lifetime.
During this period, as a result of his frequent contacts with important artists in modern China, his painting style was gradually changing. In his works, not only were there evidences of his exploration of avant-garde styles such as cubism, Fauvism, surrealism, etc, but indications of his pursuit of “Chinese features” and “orientalization” were also apparent. On the strength of his exceptional accomplishments, he was later voted one of China’s twelve top modern artists, making it a high note in his painting career.
‧大暑 Great Heat (1933-1945)
Fom returning to Taiwan to restitution of sovereignty, promoting art movement in Taiwan and leaving behind plenty of countryside paintings
At the outbreak of the 128 Incident in Shanghai, Chen Cheng-po was forced to return to Taiwan because he was overseas Japanese by law. Since his returning, his works began to go beyond the pure pursuit of the laurels of art exhibitions and the experimentation of avant-garde art trends; he had instead entered a stage of new thinking about building Taiwan’s cultural subjectivity. At the same time, in a bid to infuse a new source of vitality into Taiwan society and raise the cultural level of Taiwan, he was active in setting up painting societies and serving as a consultant to local painting clubs. Throughout this period, his works were still replete with the brushstroke characteristics and spontaneity of Chinese ink-wash paintings.
‧霜降 Frost's Descent (1945-1947)
From joyous celebration of Taiwan's restitution of sovereignty to meeting a tragic death
In August 1945, when Japan lost the war and surrendered, Taiwan was returned to its fatherland. Exhilaratingly Chen Cheng-po wrote down the declaration “Born in the Manchurian Qing Dynasty; Die in the Han Nationals’ rule” and rejoiced for rightfully becoming a Chinese. Based on a conviction of serving the public, he actively participated in social affairs and was elected a member of the first session of the city council of Chiayi. Yet it was precisely this dedication that made him a victim of a tragedy of the time.
In early 1947, after he had left the painting Accumulated Snow on Jade Mountain in his studio, he met his tragic death in the “228 Incident”. For a long period afterwards, his wife Zhang Jie kept a host of his artworks and historical materials and quietly waited for the day when the name of her husband would be cleared by history.
‧立春 The Beginning of Spring (1979-2014)
The reappearance of Chen Cheng-po's artworks in various exhibitions and the publication of various related studies
Just as in Chen Cheng-po’s last piece of work, Accumulated Snow on Jade Mountain, there would eventually be a day when the snow accumulated on the top of Jade Mountain melts. Under the shining sun, the raging vitality of the southern country once again radiates invigorating glimmers; the melted snow turns into a spring of running water that nurtures Mother Earth.
With the gradual lifting of martial law in Taiwan, the posthumous exhibition of Chen Cheng-po’s works in 1979 signaled that this pioneer of Taiwan art movement started to break out from all sorts of adversities and suppression. What followed was a flood of reporting, the launching of various exhibition activities, and the discussions of Chen Cheng-po’s art accomplishments, influence and contributions by scholars based on different theories and viewpoints.
These efforts in reconstructing history cumulated in the series of 120th anniversary East Asia touring exhibitions and the publication of Chen Cheng-po Corpus. This “Hidden Talent” Exhibition held in National Palace Museum will be the finale of all the activities in the interim.