Hung Chun-hsiung (洪鈞雄), the eldest son of Taiwanese artist Hung Jui-lin (洪瑞麟), said he was taking an evening stroll with his father in California 24 years ago, when the senior Hung looked at the sunset and said: “If I keep walking in that direction, I could walk to Taiwan.”
Hung Jui-lin passed away only months after that conversation.
“My dad was an ordinary man, who led an ordinary life,” Hung Chun-hsiung said.
THOUSANDS OF WORKS
Now, more than 2,500 of his works dating from 1930 to 1996 are to return home from the US, after Hung Chun-hsiung and his family decided to donate them to the Ministry of Culture.
These include paintings of miners, as well as nudes and landscapes, painted in watercolors, oils and ink, art historian Hsiao Chong-ray (蕭瓊瑞) and the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts said.
There are also some sketches, handwritten notes taken by Hung Jui-lin in mines and his last painting, which is of a group of miners sitting in a circle, they said.
Hung Chun-hsiung said the family would keep some of the paintings as mementos, adding that although he is sad to let most of the paintings go, he is grateful to have found a home for them.
One of the few paintings that the family is keeping depicts a sunset by the sea, the sky painted in shades of purple, pink, orange and green, with sailboats on the water.
Hung Chun-hsiung said that his father created the painting when he was feeling homesick.
“As we walked, he said that he could hear music playing, although I could only hear the sound of waves,” Hung Chun-hsiung said.
“He said that the sunset was performing a symphony. ‘All of the colors are coming out to speak to me,’ he told me. ‘Like at the end of a concert where all of the instruments join in one by one, before going out with a bang. It is as if the colors are saying goodbye,’” Hung Chun-hsiung said.
“Whenever I look at this painting, I feel as though my father is speaking to me,” he added.
BORN IN TAIPEI
Hung Jui-lin was born in Taipei in 1912, when Taiwan was under Japanese colonial rule. When he was 18, he traveled to Tokyo to pursue a degree at Teikoku Art School and returned to Taiwan eight years later.
He married a mine foreman’s daughter, and started working as a supervisor in a mine in Rueifang (瑞芳), now a district in New Taipei City.
He worked there for the next 35 years, during which he cultivated a simple, rugged and expressive style of painting.
Hung Jui-lin became renowned for his paintings of miners, the central motif of most of his works. He had a profound respect for miners and referred to them as “mighty, nameless warriors” in a poem.
In his later years, he moved to the US to live with Hung Chun-hsiung, who operated a restaurant in California.
He continued to paint in the family’s home on Redondo Beach, California, until he passed away from heart complications at age 84.
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