Wed, Mar 14, 2012 - Page 14 News List

Beyond the wall

A new exhibition at Huashan 1914 Creative Park showcases the work of the New Taiwan Mural Team, whose members create public art that celebrates Taiwanese culture

By Catherine Shu  /  Staff Reporter

Most of the art on display at the Huashan 1914 Creative Park New Taiwan Mural Team exhibition is painted on pieces of wood that measure about 1.2m by 2.4m.

Photo: Catherine Shu, Taipei Times

Most of the New Taiwan Mural Team’s (新台灣壁畫隊) distinctive, colorful art is permanently attached to buildings in small towns throughout southern Taiwan. Now viewers in the rest of the country can get a taste of the group’s artwork at exhibitions in four cities.

More than 40 large-scale paintings created by members of the team are currently on display at Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914) until March 31. Other exhibition locations are Pier 2 (駁二藝術特區) in Greater Kaohsiung, The Carefree Bay (白鷺灣) in Greater Tainan and Paper Dome (南投紙教堂) in Nantou County.

Based in Kaohsiung, the New Taiwan Mural Team’s goal is to create public artwork that has a “Taiwanese flavor.” The group’s murals can be seen in towns including Baishu (白樹) in Greater Kaohsiung and Chiatung Township (佳冬鄉) in Pingtung County.

Much of the art on display at Huashan addresses Taiwan’s national and cultural identities. Some of the solo pieces in the exhibition deal with more controversial themes than work meant for permanent public display.

The exhibition includes several works by prolific artist Yao Jui-chung (姚瑞中). In one painting, China is depicted as a menacing red demon in a violent embrace with Taiwan, which is represented by a green figure giving a thumbs-up sign. Giant words read “他玩妳死 Taiwanese” (the Chinese, a homophone for the word Taiwanese, literally translates as “he plays, you die”). The mural created an outcry when exhibited outside the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei (MOCA Taipei) last year.

Displayed nearby, Yang Tsung-ying’s (楊宗穎) work is quiet in comparison to Yao’s, but strikingly enigmatic nevertheless. It shows a pair of humble blue-and-white rubber slippers, which have become visual shorthand for working-class Taiwanese culture, falling out of a bright white sky.

Exhibition Notes

What: New Taiwan Mural Team (新台灣壁畫隊)

When: Through March 31. Opening hours are 11am to 6pm

Where: Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914), West One Hall (西一館), 1, Bade Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市八德路一段1號). The exhibition space is at the corner of Beiping East Road (北平東路) and Hangzhou North Road (杭州北路). Tel: (02) 2358-1914

Admission: Free. For information about other exhibition locations, visit

The title of Planet Provincial Highway 11 (台11線惑星) by Max Chen (陳彥名) refers to the road that runs along the eastern coast of Taiwan and connects Hualien and Taitung. With its vivid colors and imagery inspired by religious iconography, Chen’s painting is reminiscent of artwork created by Mexican-American artists involved with the Chicano Mural Movement during the 1960s and 1970s.

Artist Lee Jiun-shyan’s (李俊賢) work is inspired by southern Taiwanese cities and villages, as well as Amis Aboriginal culture. Lee says one of the reasons he began creating murals was because it gave him a chance to listen to viewers’ feedback as he worked. As a member of the New Taiwan Mural Team, Lee worked on murals depicting sugarcane at the Ciaotou Sugar Refinery (橋頭糖廠) in

Greater Kaohsiung.

“The sugar refinery was still operating back then and people would watch me work and give me their opinions at the same time,” says Lee. “They told me that my sugarcane looked too dry and that sugarcane that is too dry can’t be used to make sugar.”

While working on another mural, Lee was given a bitter melon to paint.

“It was like being given an exam,” says Lee of tackling the fruit’s bumpy skin.

Lee says one of the most rewarding things about mural painting is drawing inspiration from a community.

“We always hope that we can paint our murals in a public space,” says Lee. “What you end up creating can be very different from what you had planned in a studio.”

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