August 25- 27
Harbourfront Centre

My Family

1. The Wife

2. Disruptive Visual Perception

3. Light and Shadows

4. An Old Photo and People’s Attire

5. Objects

6. "Proletarian Painting Theory"

7. Xinhua

8. A Snapshot of Chen Cheng-po's Family Life

9. Date of Painting

My Family

The modern buildings standing in the midst of the city streets are an interesting contrast to the wooden houses and traditional storefronts nearby. The sunlight descends slowly around the building, covering the ground with a large stretch of golden brown. Bathed in the glow of the warm light, everything in the painting also reflects the gentle and lovely colors. A big tree in the foreground stretches out into a canopy, as if to provide shade for the people on the street. Close your eyes and try to walk into Chen Cheng-po’s painting, perhaps you can also touch the warmth of this land.

1. The Wife

The artist places his wife, Chang Jie, in the center of the painting, which may suggest her importance to the entire family. During Chen Cheng-po’s study in Japan, Chang Jie took charge of the family, raised three children on her own, and supported her husband’s career and business. After Chen Cheng-po’s death, it was still Chang Jie who silently guarded his paintings until the moment they saw the light of day.

2. Disruptive Visual Perception

Looking at the painting, we are simultaneously overlooking all the objects on the semi-circular table and gazing horizontally at the group of people behind the round table. By breaking the principle of perspective, this technique expands the spatial capacity of the painting. In Chen Cheng-po’s painting, this unusual visual sensation reflects his alternative thinking on the expression of painting.

3. Light and Shadows

In addition to the juxtaposition of the two perspectives, the changes in light and shadow in this painting are also noteworthy. In the painting, the main light source comes from the right side, so each figure’s shadow is cast to the left on the wall, except for Chen Cheng-po’s shadow, which is in the opposite direction of the others. What kind of intention does this subtle arrangement reflect?

4. An Old Photo and People’s Attire

In 1931, Chen Cheng-po and his family went to a photo studio in Shanghai where they took a family portrait. If we look closely at this photo, we will find various clothes of the people in the picture, such as the coat and gloves worn by Chen Cheng-po, the shawl on his two daughters, and the woolen hat on his youngest son’s head, etc.

5. Objects

In this painting, Chen Cheng-po is holding a palette and a brush. His oldest daughter has begun to read and write, and his youngest son appears to be holding a toy that looks like a wave drum. The arrangement of all these objects reflects the life situation of each character in the painting. What do you think of the rectangular image in the second daughter’s hand?

6. “Proletarian Painting Theory”

A book with clear details on the cover is “Proletarian Painting Theory” (プロレタリア繪畫論), published in 1930, which discusses an artistic trend aiming at the general public as its subject and target. Although Chen Cheng-po’s painting style does not show such tendency, the book in the painting may also reflect his concern for this trend.

7. Xinhua

Although the writing on the envelope is blurred, the word “Xinhua” can still be identified in the address field on the left side. It is the “Xinhua Art College” where Chen Cheng-po taught in Shanghai after 1929. During his stay in China, he also worked in other art educational institutions and met many famous modern Chinese painters.

8. A Snapshot of Chen Cheng-po’s Family Life

Among Chen Cheng-po’s sketches, we can also find some art works with family life as the theme. As a painter who travels a lot, he does not spend much time with his family. However, the affectionate scenes depicted on the drawing paper can still make us feel the artist’s love and emotion for his family.

9. Date of Painting

In February 1931, Chen Cheng-po wrote a letter in which he mentioned that he had recently completed a painting of number fifty for his family. The painting mentioned in that letter may be My Family. In addition, his third daughter, who was born in November 1931, does not appear in this painting, so it can be assumed that this painting by Chen Cheng-po predates this point.

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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.