Huang Yung-fu, an 86-year-old veteran from Taichung City, has made his military dependents’ village famous by painting on walls that could soon be pulled down when the neighborhood is redeveloped. Information about his paintings went viral, to the point where tourists have flown in from Malaysia, Japan, and Korea to see them. The borough chief of the neighborhood is fighting to conserve the paintings after coming under pressure from residents.
Huang has a simple painting style and uses bright colors. The characters he creates are well-known and friendly and it is said that his style is close to that of Hung Tung, another self-taught painter.
One lane, stretching about 40m to 50m, is adorned with paintings of famous TV personalities, plants, animals and other items such as birds, buffaloes, aircrafts and aboriginal people, in an area that has become known as the “painted military dependents’ village.” Stepping into the lane is like stepping into a surreal cartoon world.
The man behind all these paintings is Huang Yung-fu, who first picked up a paintbrush about two years ago. He started to paint for his own pleasure, but then developed his own style. Students of a university not far from the “painted military dependents’ village” seem to be among the first who discovered this old man’s talent and started to spread the news. Some even took pictures of the paintings and published them online. The paintings became so popular that now even newlyweds come here to take wedding pictures.
The dull and drab military dependents’ village has been transformed into an animated and lively location and is now recognized as one of the must-see spots in central Taichung City.
Huang Yung-fu was born in Hong Kong’s Kowloon. At 86 years old, he considers himself quite healthy. He says he doesn’t drink alcohol, doesn’t smoke, and doesn’t gamble. To kill time, he started painting and simply used the remains of the equipment from the art classes he attended when he was a child. Never would have he have imagined that so many people would come to appreciate his art, and he has drawn great pleasure from his paintings. He paints a little bit more every day, and now painting has become the main purpose of his life.
The borough chief said that after the “painted military dependents’ neighborhood” became well-known, visitors started to flow in during holidays. Some think that Huang’s style is close to that of self-taught painter Hung Tung and is worth preserving. However, the Ministry of National Defense thinks otherwise, and has commissioned the city government to redevelop the area. This means that these houses are going to be destroyed and the paintings will disappear. Since photographs of the paintings have already been taken, one possibility is to reproduce them in a park not far from the original location. The military dependents’ village can be found at Chun An Li, Taichung City.
(LIBERTY TIMES, TRANSLATED BY TAIJING WU)
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