Thu, Jun 27, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Nonagenarian holds art debut

By Chen Hsin-jen and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Cheng Chun-chi, a farmer in Nantou County’s Jhushan Township, on Sunday shows gourds he has painted.

Photo: Chen Hsin-jen, Taipei Times

Proving that it is never too late to change careers, a 92-year-old farmer from Nantou County’s Jhushan Township (竹山) received a new lease on life two decades ago.

At 70-plus years of age, Cheng Chun-chi (鄭春期) unleashed close to a lifetime of long-hidden artistic talent, turning hundreds of dried gourds into canvases for paintings.

Cheng and his children were behind the Joint Painting Exhibition of the Three Generations of Cheng Chun-chi’s Family (鄭春期三代聯展) held in Jhushan’s Ko Ming Temple and an art center in Taipei.

Few visitors to the exhibition know that the artist is a farmer by profession without a shred of artistic experience until 20 years ago.

Cheng lost his mother when he was just three months old and his father passed away when he was 14.

Because his family was not well-off, Cheng lived an early life of hardship and poverty, until he purchased some land to grow rice and tobacco leaves at the age of 30.

After retiring from farming at the age of 70, Cheng started growing calabashes in his backyard and painted on dried bottle gourds as a pastime.

He also purchased painted bottle gourds from Japan and Nepal and spent time observing their intricate detail to improve his own skills.

What started out as a hobby soon became a second profession and driving passion. He has since created nearly 1,000 painted bottle gourds.

Encouraged by his second-eldest son, Cheng Shang-ching (鄭上慶), a graduate of Fu Hsin Kang College’s Department of Applied Art and an amateur painter, Cheng Chun-chi held the joint exhibition in collaboration with family members.

Cheng Chun-chi’s delicate artworks have been collected by buyers from the US, Australia, Japan and Brazil.

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