For the next three weeks Taipei's popular commercial gallery, Lin & Kang (大未來畫廊), will be showcasing a series of works depicting the female form as seen through the eyes of four well known early 20th century Chinese artists -- all of who influenced and shaped Greater China's contemporary art scene.
Commonly referred to as the father of Chinese contemporary art, Lin Feng-mian (林風眠), is possibly one of the most prominent figures in the development of modern Chinese art. Lin was one of the first generation of Chinese artists to travel to Paris during the 1920s in order to study the concepts and styles employed by European artists of the day.
The most striking of Lin's works on display is his almost psychedelic Portrait of a Lady (仕女圖), a work that sees the artist using broad and exaggerated strokes, yet paying close attention to the subject's most distinctive feature, the eyes, or `the verve' as he once described it.
Like Lin, Sanyu (常玉) traveled to Paris in the 1920s. Unlike his peer, however, Sanyu created female nudes by utilizing strokes and techniques not far removed from those used by generations of calligraphers, as is apparent in his wood block-styled piece, Nude (坐姿裸女).
Born in Guangdong, Yun Gee (朱沅) opted to travel to the US to study art. Arriving in San Francisco in 1921, Yun, already a skilled calligrapher, set about adapting his brush strokes to fit Western styles. He created a very unique style, which, as can be seen in his Leda (裸女與鶴), saw the artist depicting his many subjects in an almost dreamlike manner.
While there can be no denying the creativity and originality expressed by these artists, by far the most interesting works on display are those by Guan Liang (關良).
Influenced by Japanese art of the early 20th century rather than the fashionable European styles of the day, Guan was the only artist featured in this exhibition to pursue his career as an artist in his native China. Whether Guan was creating a cartoon piece or a portrait, his works, such as Lady (仕女), ooze Oriental flavor and are easily distinguishable from those of his Western-educated peers.
Sadly the small number of works on display means the exhibition only scratches the surface, giving the viewer an all too brief glimpse of the distinctive styles of the four artists. Whilst it should prove sufficient for those unfamiliar with the works, art buffs more familiar with the artists and their works might feel rather short-changed by the show.
For your information:
What: Themes on Women (女人畫題)
Where: Lin and Kang Gallery (大未來畫廊) 11, Lane 252, Tunhua S. Rd, Sec. 1, Taipei (台北市敦化南路1段252巷11號)
When: Until April 30