August 25- 27
Harbourfront Centre

Self-Portrait (1)

1. Gakuran

2. The Eyes

3. “Admirer of Van Gogh”

4. Sunflowers or Local Pineapples?

5. Fedora

6. The Self-Portrait on the Family Altar

Self-Portrait (1)

What would “I” look like?

On the canvas, Chen Cheng-po tries to paint a face that belongs to Chen Cheng-po. He has put some shadows on this face, while at the same time revealing a bit of rebelliousness in his eyes. Through the repeated application of paints, the artist seems to be able to gradually find out his own shape in the world of painting.

Behind the portrait, Chen Cheng-po lets those lovely yellow circles bloom behind him like flowers. In your self-portrait, what would you choose as the background?

1. Gakuran

In this painting, Chen Cheng-po wears a black tunic jacket called “Gakuran”, a style of dress that was adopted from Europe during the Meiji Restoration period and later became the uniform for male students at all levels of Japanese schools. In the photo of Chen Cheng-po taken after he was first selected for the Imperial Exhibition, we can also see him wearing Gakuran and jacket like the one in the painting.

10-PH1_034-1 1926.10.10陳澄波第一次入選帝展,在畫室接受報社記者訪問時所攝。

Chen Cheng-po in October 1926, when he was first selected for the Imperial Exhibition, wearing his uniform, and being interviewed by a newspaper reporter. Collection of the Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica.

2. The Eyes

Self-portraits can be seen as a form of self-introduction. A painter’s depiction of himself reflects his understanding of himself, or his own life expectations. In this painting, Chen Cheng-po has cast a gloomy shadow over one side of face, but his eyes seem to reveal a certain kind of determination. What do you think he wants to express?

3. “Admirer of Van Gogh”

The style of this painting and the gloomy look of the figure are reminiscent of the famous Dutch painter Van Gogh. In fact, Chen Cheng-po’s friend Ni Yide, a painter he met in Shanghai, once introduced Chen Cheng-po as “an admirer of Van Gogh” in a magazine. This self-portrait may also reflect Van Gogh’s influence on Chen Cheng-po.

4. Sunflowers or Local Pineapples?

In contrast to the melancholy expression of the subject, the yellow circles in the background give people a bright and warm impression. Could the yellow circles in Chen Cheng-po’s painting be a reference to the sunflowers that Van Gogh likes to depict? Or are these circles actually sliced pineapples from Taiwan? Do you have any other different observations and ideas?

5. Fedora

Looking at Chen Cheng-po’s old photographs, we can see that he often wore the fedora in his paintings when he was out sketching in his earlier days. This type of hat, modeled after Western clothing and culture, became popular in Japan from the late 19th century and became a fashionable item of clothing in colonial Taiwan.

10-PH1_081-001(PH1_068-1) 1931.8.12年陳澄波於太湖黿頭渚寫生留影。

Chen Cheng-po sketching in Yuantouzhu, Taihu Lake on August 12th 1931. Collection of the Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica.

6. The Self-Portrait on the Family Altar

After Chen Cheng-po’s murder, his wife, Chang Jie, placed the self-portrait on the home altar to give the family a place of memorial and worship. The portrait remained on the altar table of the Chen family for more than half a century until it was finally removed in recent years after the restoration project of Chen Cheng-po’s paintings began.

10-1970年代以前,攝於陳澄波蘭井街故居。

Before 1970s, taken at Chen Cheng-po’s former residence in Lanjing Street.

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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.