An oil painting stashed away in the warehouse of the Presidential Office in Sansia (三峽), New Taipei City (新北市), finally had its day in the sun after more than 50 years when President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) unveiled the restored work yesterday.
Ma said the painting was a joint creation of seven well-known painters.
As the painting has been restored, it will now be hung at the Rainbow Room on the third floor of the Presidential Office, he said.
The painting was a gift from an art association for then-president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) in 1960 to celebrate his inauguration as president of the Republic of China for the third time.
The seven painters spent one week on Yushan (玉山) and returned to complete the painting on three pieces of canvas sewn together.
Ma said Presidential Office Secretary-General Liao Liou-yi (廖了以) had played a pivotal role in bringing the 51-year-old painting out of the darkness and humidity.
Not long after Liao assumed his position in September, Ma said Liao became curious about a painting wrapped in canvas on the second floor of the presidential warehouse.
After discovering the painting was a national treasure, Ma said Liao asked the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts to restore it, since it was in bad condition.
Kuo Jiang-song (郭江宋), the technician who restored the painting, said he was honored to work on the painting.
During the restoration process, he said he felt as if he were in a time machine that transported him back to 1960.
“It was a long but happy journey,” he said. “I felt as if I was communicating with those painters.”
Kuo said it was the largest oil painting he has ever restored in his 20 years of professional work. This was the first time he had worked on a painting that was created by seven famous painters.
It was also the first time a painting he has repaired has been exhibited at the Presidential Office, he said.
Lee Tsung-che (李宗哲), the son-in-law of Lu Chi-cheng (呂基正), one of the painters, said it was a miracle that the painting could see the light of day again after more than half a century in obscurity.
While the painting has been well restored and now has a proper home, many more will likely see a less happy ending, Lee said.
He said the government should continue to search and rescue other paintings that are just as beautiful and precious as the one his father-in-law and his fellow artists created.