An exhibition commemorating the 120th birthday of Chen Cheng-po (陳澄波), a renowned Taiwanese painter killed during the 1947 anti-government uprising and ensuing bloody crackdown following the 228 Incident, is to tour Taiwan, China and Japan from next week.
The first leg of the exhibition is to open in Greater Tainan on Saturday next week and then head to Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo before returning to Taipei, according to the Tainan City Cultural Affairs Bureau.
The exhibition is to feature more than 460 oil and watercolor paintings, calligraphy pieces and sketches by the painter, as well as some of his letters, manuscripts and personal belongings.
Chen Li-po (陳立柏), executive director of the Chen Cheng-po Cultural Foundation and the painter’s grandson, said organizing the exhibition tour was a way to reflect on the life of his grandfather, who had traveled extensively “at a time when telephones and airplanes were less common.”
“We don’t want his legacy to be confined to Taiwan,” Chen Li-po said on Tuesday, adding that he hopes his grandfather’s art would gain wider exposure in East Asia.
Born in 1895, Chen Cheng-po is often described as a pioneer in the development of modern art in Taiwan.
In 1924, he went to Japan to study at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts (now Tokyo University of the Arts) and became the first Taiwanese artist to have his work featured in the Imperial Art Exhibition, a prestigious art exhibition in Japan at the time.
The painter was shot dead in March 1947 during the then-ruling Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) brutal crackdown on anti-government uprisings in Taiwan that began on Feb. 28, 1947 — 16 months after Japanese colonial rule of Taiwan ended.
Chen was selected as one of six representatives in Chiayi City to negotiate for peace with the KMT, but instead was captured and executed in public two weeks later in front of the Chiayi Railway Station.
According to some estimates, tens of thousands of Taiwanese, many of them from the country’s intellectual elite, are believed to have been killed by the KMT during the 228 Massacre.
The exhibition is jointly organized by the Greater Tainan Government, Academia Sinica’s Institute of Taiwan History and the Chen Cheng-po Cultural Foundation.
Chen Li-po said the foundation has worked with Japanese and Chinese professors on the study and repair of his grandfather’s works, and hopes that more academics will join the effort.
“In addition to showing his work to more people in East Asia, we also hope to inspire more research through the exhibition,” he said.
The exhibition in Greater Tainan is to be held from Jan. 18 to March 30 at the Xinying Cutural Center, the Tainan Municipal Cultural Center, the National Museum of Taiwan Literature and the Koxinga Museum.
It is then to run from April 22 to May 21 at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing; from May to July (dates to be announced) at the China Art Museum in Shanghai; from Sept. 12 to Oct. 26 at the Tokyo University of the Arts; and from November to February next year at the National Palace Museum in Taipei.