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Taipei event remembers prominent artist Chen Chi-kwan

2015/11/12 23:20:22

Taipei, Nov. 12 (CNA) An event was held in Taipei on Wednesday to showcase copies of paintings by late prominent artist Chen Chi-kwan (陳其寬) and launch cultural and creative products inspired by his artworks.

Over a dozen limited-edition lithographs were on display at the one-day event to commemorate Chen, a painter-architect known for his innovative perspective and style of painting that revolutionized traditional Chinese calligraphy and brush paintings.

Chen was one of the first contemporary Chinese painters to incorporate Western painting techniques such as dripping, rubbing and collage into traditional Chinese paintings, Fan Pan (潘襎), director and associate professor at Fo Guang University's Department of Cultural Assets and Reinvention, told CNA.

His training as an architect also gave his work a unique perspective that crosses time and space, Pan said, calling Chen an "oddity" in the art world.

"Of all the artists in the post-war Chinese community, Chen Chi-kwan was the one with the most distinctive style. His works are refreshing but traditional, and he injected in them a new vitality, which put them ahead of their time," Pan said.

(Chen's painting "Valley")

(Chen's painting "Labyrinth")

(Chen's painting "South of Yangtze")

Among the artworks on display Wednesday were copies of Chen's most celebrated paintings, including "Less is More" - which shows two goldfish in adjacent bowls. The minimal brushwork and simplicity of the painting reflect Chen's belief that "less is more," Pan said.

("Less is More")

Another painting, "Busy," depicts a mother monkey picking her baby's hair for lice.

"Our first impression of monkeys is that they are restless. But monkeys emerge calm under his brush. They exude an air of love," a sense of warmth that can be seen throughout Chen's works, Pan said.


Born in 1921 in Beijing, Chen's youth was marked by constant moving with his family due to China's War of Resistance against Japan. He served as an interpreter in the China-Burma-India Theater of World War II and studied architecture in the United States after the war.

In 1960, he returned to Taiwan and oversaw the design of the renowned Luce Memorial Chapel at Tunghai University. He was one of the recipients of Taiwan's prestigious National Award for Arts in 2004. Judges at the time said the "decorative colors, architectural lines and mystical spaces" in his paintings "inspired us to see our surroundings in a new light."

Chen passed away at the age of 87 in the United States in 2007.

(Chen Chi-kwan, from the website of Chen Chi Kwan Education & Cultural Foundation)

(Luce Memorial Chapel, from the website of Chen Chi Kwan Education & Cultural Foundation)

(Chen's painting "Quiescence")

(Chen's painting "Peace")

In addition to paintings, monkey and goldfish-themed porcelain tea wares based on Chen's paintings were also displayed at the Wednesday event.

"The reason why we're introducing cultural and creative products is because my dad's art is usually displayed in a museum environment, but I wanted to bring it into everyday life, so that everyone can be able to enjoy his art," said Chih Chen (陳芝平), daughter of Chen Chi-kwan and head of Chi Kwan Chen Gallery.

Tony Tseng (曾國源), CEO of Artilize Worldwide Co., which collaborated with Chi Kwan Chen Gallery to create the porcelain tea wares, said the tea wares are set to hit store shelves in Taiwan before the end of the year.

(porcelain tea wares)

(By Christie Chen)