Sunset in Tamsui-35.9
紙本水墨 Ink on paper
私人收藏 Private collection
Filled with confusing lines, this ink wash sketch must be a draft for the Sunset in Tamsui. To the right of the picture plane is the distinct outline of the Chapel of Presbyterian Church, and still discernible at the bottom is the structure of a chimney on the rooftop of the Mackay Hospital. All the ideas for the composition—a jetty extended into the river bend on the left, a grove planted on the horizon in the background, and Fort San Domingo situated on the hill—were eventually realized in the Sunset in Tamsui, and rendered further in colors.
After Chen Cheng-po’s death, lots of his paintings have been passed on to the world, together with a great quantity of sketchbooks and pages of drafts. Some sketches are almost identical to the extant oil paintings in the whole composition and remarkable features of landscapes. As these sketches were completed earlier than the oil paintings, it seems plausible to treat them as the drafts of the oil paintings.
The lines in this ink wash sketch are quite rough; obviously, the draft is made merely for organizing ideas of the composition, without deliberate effort on the textures of things. With this draft, we may easily trace the ideas that guided the painter in his drawing.
For example, the inkblot of the jetty in the river bend is clearly a later addition, which may well illustrate that in the initial composition, Chen Cheng-po didn’t plan to represent this scene. Furthermore, juxtaposing this sketch with the Sunset in Tamsui, we can perceive some adjustments made in the details. In the oil painting, the whole location of the Chapel recedes quite visibly to the margin of the picture plane. In the background, Fort San Domingo is moved horizontally to the left at a considerable distance.
The construction of the composition is a task that Chen Cheng-po had repeatedly improved in his sketchbooks and paintings. When you are enchanted by the picturesque scene in the Sunset in Tamsui, you may try to walk into the world constructed by monochrome lines to have a true understanding of the painter’s ideas about painting.