Hsi De-chin was born to a rich farmer's family in a remote village of a southern county of Xichuan Province, China in 1923. He dedicated his entire life to artistic creation, and then illness speeded him to his end in Taiwan on Aug. 3, 1981 at the age of 59. Hsi De-chin was still very young when he enrolled in a private village school, and at the time he had only a nascent interest in drawing pictures. Later when he became a pupil of Lin Feng-mien, he had fully immersed himself in his drawing.
In 1948, Hsi moved to Taiwan with the army and found a teaching position in Taiwan's Chiayi Senior High School right away. Deeply impressed by Taiwan's subtropical natural landscape, Hsi decided to abandon traditional ways of drawing. He went out sketching nature all the time, meeting nature directly and learning from the natural world. From then on, his works were filled with the colors of reality and life. Hsi quit his teaching position in 1952, and went to Taipei to devote his every effort to a professional career in drawing. He became famous in artistic circles very quickly.
In 1962, Hsi had been invited by the US Department of State to visit and observe American arts for four months. After finishing his time in the States, he flew to Europe. He saw superior artistic creations, including classic, modern and even the most avant-garde works during this time. Hsi not only derived what he lacked from this artistic treasure island, but also discovered a new direction for his creation in the future. He traveled through France, Britain, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland while he was in Europe.
In 1966, Hsi's four-year visit and observation in Europe came to an end. He came back to Taiwan by way of Greece, Turkey, Thailand and Hong Kong. The time he spent in Europe could be the turning point in his artistic life. Hsi was inspired by foreign art and compelled to make a thorough self-examination of his own life and folk art.
In the years following his return Hsi walked the remote and backward parts of Taiwan. He took pictures and kept track of Taiwan's civil architecture and folk arts, both precious cultural heritages that Hsi called on people to protect. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, we can see that Hsi was always on the forefront of efforts to stir up support for cultural preservation and his efforts have left their mark on history. After Hsi came back to Taiwan, what he got from Taiwanese folk arts changed the essence of his creative energies. It was while Hsi, an artist who sincerely loved Taiwan and truly put dreams into practice, was burning most brightly and trying his best to carry through his creations that he unfortunately fell ill and died. For a man with such love for life and artistic creation, it was really cruel that the life he was granted fell short. Hsi did, however, leave thousands of works behind for people to admire after he passed away. (Taipei Times)
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