Journalists often have interests spanning many different disciplines, and it is the good fortune of the reporter working in the literary and arts field that they deepen their knowledge of art in the process of covering a news story. Seasoned media professional and novelist Cool Chen has been in journalism for the past several decades, and over this time she has cultivated her appreciation of art while interviewing artists, many of whom later became her friends. The more Chen explored the arts, the more interested she became. Now, Chen is emerging as a successful artist in her own right, specializing in oils.
An exhibition of paintings titled “Fantasy Suite — A Cool Chen Solo Exhibition” opened this month. It is Chen’s second solo exhibition, her debut exhibition being in 2007, and is a chance to share her love of painting. Chen told the Taipei Times during the opening ceremony on Saturday that, compared with the first exhibition five years ago, the paintings in this exhibition feature “an especially bold use of color.”
Since 1998, Chen has studied under Li Chin-chu, who in turn studied under oil master Chang Yi-hsiung. “Chen paints beyond the logical confines of academicism. Casting off all restraint, her works are full of independence, ebullience, and boldness in the use of colors,” said Li at the opening ceremony. Therefore, when looking at Chen’s works, one is struck by the powerful use of color in her works, to express happiness, freedom, and vitality.
Chen is modest about her achievements, referring to herself as an “amateur artist.” The first time you speak to her, she is instantly approachable, and you can feel how much she loves painting. Chen said that she only feels like painting when she is happy. “On days I am painting, I go from feeling remote and alone to having a sense of tranquil bliss. My heart explodes with joy,” she said. Chen expressed gratitude not only to Li, but also to her husband, Yu Kuo-chi, for his unconditional support.
Chen is driven when it comes to her painting. In March her works were exhibited at a joint exhibition at the Lu Yanshao Art Gallery in Shanghai. Next March her works are expected to be on display at an exhibition at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Also, in the year after next, Chen will participate in a traveling exhibition held by the Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Cultural and Educational Foundation around Taiwan. Even now, she cannot quite believe how far she has come. Even her teacher Li said that “I simply had to buy some of her works for my own collection.” Chen’s positive attitude and refusal to let go of her dreams is an inspiration to all.
“Fantasy Suite — A Cool Chen Solo Exhibition” is on now and will run until the end of this month at the Studio de Fantasia in Taipei’s Neihu District. Starting this coming Saturday for three consecutive weekends, lectures related to this exhibition will be held at the gallery. For more information, please call (02)-26275085.
(Lin Ya-ti, Taipei Times)