Renowned painter Chen Yang-chun (陳陽春) was finally able to shake off some of the regret of not having kept any of his early works when school classmate Chen Te-chin (陳德欽), keeping a promise made 54 years ago, unexpectedly revealed two pieces of Chen Yang-chun’s work from junior-high school during a reunion.
Chen Te-chin said he was given the two paintings when the two attended Yunlin County’s Beigang Junior High School in 1960.
“He told me: ‘Take these two paintings; keep them well, because I’m going to be a painter one day,’” Chen Te-chin said, adding that he promised that he would take good care of them.
Despite having moved many times over the next five decades, Chen Te-chin never forgot about the two paintings and took them with him every time he moved.
“Chen Yang-chun has kept his promise of becoming an internationally renowned painter,” Chen Te-chin said, adding that he should also kept his end of the bargain.
However, Chen Yang-chun, 68, had completely forgotten about the incident and had regretted the loss of his earlier works in an accident.
In a recent visit to his hometown in Yunlin County’s Shueilin Township (水林), Chen Yang-chun had a small reunion at classmate Kuo Chiao-chu’s (郭喬朱) house, where he met Chen Te-chin.
“I have something for you,” Chen Te-chin said as he pulled out the two paintings and handed them to Chen Yang-chun.
Chen Yang-chun was moved to tears when he saw his early paintings. He said that he had not expected Chen Te-chin to keep them due to a simple promise made in their adolescence — they had been about 14 years old at the time — when he himself had not kept any of his works from that period.
“It’s like finding a son you lost over half a century ago,” Chen Yang-chun said.
Reminiscing about their childhood, Chen Yang-chun and Chen Te-chin also pieced together how they had gotten to know each other.
Chen Te-chin said he had been one of the better students, but that he did not have any talent for drawing, while Chen Yang-chun dreamed of being a painter and artist, but his mathematics was not very good.
Chen Yang-chun said he often asked Chen Te-chin why artists had to learn mathematics and in the end the two entered a partnership in which Chen Te-chin allowed Chen Yang-chun to copy his answers during mathematics tests and Chen Yang-chun helped Chen Te-chin with his drawing homework.
Chen Yang-chun had been much praised for his skills in Chinese calligraphy since his elementary-school years. After learning how to paint watercolors, he melded the techniques of traditional Chinese painting into watercolors, creating the unique effect of surreal translucency.
He defines his style as “Taiwanese-style watercolor,” and has held more than 170 exhibitions. He has taught classes at more than 40 universities, both domestic and abroad, and holds honorary titles from eight of them.
He is the founder of the Huayang Award in Asia, with a mission to help upcoming artists from around Asia show their works.
Chen Yang-chun’s paintings are also specifically mentioned in the short films introducing Taiwan sent to allied nations and this year marks the third in which he has a gallery in the Presidential Office’s VIP lounge.
The Presidential Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have both commended him, with the ministry awarding him a “Friend of Diplomacy” award.