Sun, Apr 07, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Yan Shui-lung fish mosaic valued at NT$20 million

By Chen Feng-li and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Yan Shui-lung’s Tropical Fish mosaic is pictured in Taipei on March 31.

Photo: Chen Feng-li, Taipei Times

A mosaic commissioned by Taiwanese toilet manufacturer Alex Co in 1973 has been appraised at NT$20 million (US$648,992), the company said.

The mural, titled Tropical Fish, is the work of artist Yan Shui-lung (顏水龍).

Experts from the National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute who were invited to appraise the piece said that aside from the high price it would fetch if sold, the work should be considered a “national treasure.”

Yan, who passed away in 1997 at the age of 94, was one of the founders of the Japanese colonial-era Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition, which was held annually from 1927 to 1936. He has been called the “father of Taiwanese craft” for his promotion of mosaics.

In 1952, Yan published Taiwan Arts and Crafts (台灣工藝) — an exposition of the state of the field in Taiwan at the time. Two years later he was appointed director of the Nantou County Craftworks Research Center, which later became the National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute.

Yan was commissioned to create 16 murals starting in 1961, but they were never registered as assets by their owners and never appraised.

The 320cm by 233cm Tropical Fish is the first of his pieces to be appraised, Alex Co said.

The company had the mural — his 12th mosaic — installed at its Taipei headquarters in 1973, when Yan was 70 years old, it said.

Institute director Hsu Keng-hsiu (許耿修) said the mural was broken into four pieces and taken down when Alex’s Taipei location underwent renovations, and later it was accidentally split into 10 pieces.

Alex chairman Lee Chao-ting (李昭亭) said he did not want the mural to remain in such a state, so he hired two of Yan’s former students — Lin Chun-cheng (林俊成) and Lee Yi-hsun (李億勳) — to repair it at a cost of NT$500,000.

Lee then donated the piece to the institute.

Hsu said he hopes the public will enjoy the mosaic and that seeing it would give them an appreciation for the art form.

Yan’s earliest and largest mural — Sports — was made for National Taiwan University of Sport’s gymnasium, Hsu said, adding that the artist’s final mural is installed at the Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital, and is a depiction of Buddha.

A mural featuring sunflowers that Yan made for a pastry shop in Taichung had been covered up for 25 years after Martial Law-era police suspected it of being communist propaganda, Hsu said.

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