August 25- 27
Harbourfront Centre

Lucid Water

1. Chen Cheng-po and the West Lake

2. “The Broken Bridge with Lingering Snow”

3. “Color Harmony”

4. “Preserved for the Family.”

5. Xinxin Hotel

6. Three Pairs of Human Figures

7. “Jiu Zhi Xiaozhu” Mansion

8. The West Lake Images in Chen Cheng-po’s Collection

Lucid Water

As the riverbanks, bridges, houses, hills, and the lines of the objects keep receding and shifting into the distance, our eyes are brought into a space of profound magnitude. The traditional vocabulary is met with new expressions of the modern era. Between the Chinese ink wash and the Western painting techniques, it seems to reflect the inspirations of great mind.

What is “Oriental”? Through this painting, Chen Cheng-po may have found a coherent answer to his puzzle. Can you see his enlightenment through the color of the water in the West Lake flowing out from the pigment tube?

1. Chen Cheng-po and the West Lake

Between 1929 and 1933 when Chen Cheng-po lived in China, he visited Hangzhou’s West Lake frequently to draw and sketch scenes. Chen’s paintings of the West Lake were showcased in many of the most important art exhibitions of the time, including the “Tieten” (Imperial Academy of Fine Arts Exhibition) in Japan. The West Lake was clearly an important subject throughout the artist’s career.

6-OCS1_45 西湖春色(二)

“Spring at West Lake (2),” by Chen Cheng-po, ca. 1934, oil on canvas, 91×116.5 cm, private collection. This landscape painting of the West Lake was selected for the 15th Imperial Academy of Fine Arts Exhibition, marking another pinnacle of Chen Cheng-po’s artistic career.

2. “The Broken Bridge with Lingering Snow”

The alternative title of this painting, “The Broken Bridge with Lingering Snow,” refers to the spectacle of a bridge that appears partially hidden due to the winter snow cover. In traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy, this is an age-old subject in ink wash painting. The use of Western oil painting techniques to express this Oriental theme may also reflect Chen Cheng-po’s new approach to painting.

6-PH7_016(PH7_071-1) 斷橋殘雪

Scenery of The West Lake - The Broken Bridge with Lingering Snow, Collection of the Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica. Among the photographic images of West Lake collected by Chen Cheng-po, the classic theme of “The Broken Bridge with Lingering Snow” can also be found.

3. “Color Harmony”

Chen Cheng-po once mentioned that his paintings had the influence of classical Chinese painters. In this painting, we may be able to observe some traces of this effect. The intrinsic colors of the various objects in the painting have been deliberately adjusted by the artist, so that the color palette of the entire painting tends to be consistent. This technique is similar to the concept of “harmonization” in ink wash painting where great emphasis is placed on the overall color harmony.

4. “Preserved for the Family.”

On the eve of his martyrdom, Chen Cheng-po wrote in one of his last wills to his family, “The painting of The Broken Bridge with Lingering Snow at the West Lake is to be preserved for the family.” Among all his works, the painter only asked his descendants to preserve this piece of work, which may indicate that it was a symbolic milestone in Chen Cheng-po’s artistic career.

6-WI08-001 遺書(十一)

“Will (11),” by Chen Cheng-po. Collection of the National Taiwan Museum of History.

5. Xinxin Hotel

The two spikes erected on the red roof stand out as one of the buildings of the Xinxin Hotel, which has been receiving visitors since the late Qing Dynasty and early Republic era. The modern building in the painting was completed in 1922, featuring two red domed pavilions on the top floor, and was an iconic landmark on the north shore of the West Lake at the time.

6. Three Pairs of Human Figures

The chairs in the foreground, the lake in the mid-ground, and the slope of the bridge are all dotted with pairs of figures positioned shoulder to shoulder. These three sets of figures gradually shrink in size from near towards the distance, which not only clearly suggests the proportion of perspective in the painting, but also seems to intentionally guide the viewer’s eyes to follow their silhouettes and push deeper into the painting.

7. “Jiu Zhi Xiaozhu” Mansion

The cone-shaped minaret decorated with pearls at the top and the roof tiles slanting on both sides are architectural features that probably belong to the “Jiu Zhi Xiaozhu” mansion on the east side of West Lake. In this work, which incorporates elements of traditional Chinese painting, Chen Cheng-po may have emulated the ink wash method, breaking the natural perspective, and deliberately incorporating the scattered scenes into the painting.

8. The West Lake Images in Chen Cheng-po’s Collection

Among the items left behind by Chen Cheng-po, there are not only photos of him touring the West Lake with his students and friends, but also several photographic works with the West Lake as the subject, including “One Hundred Scenes of the West Lake” produced by Chinese photographer Shu Xincheng in 1929. The collection of these images may also reflect Chen Cheng-po’s fascination with the scenery of West Lake.

Join Our Newsletter

For Early Announcements And More

Contact Us

Performance / Vendor / Sponsorship Opportunities

TAIWANfest Toronto is grateful to be held on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples, that is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. We acknowledge our privilege to be gathered here, and commit to work with and be respectful to the Indigenous peoples of this land while we engage in meaningful conversations of culture and reconciliation.