Murakami Hideo, a.k.a. Murakami Mura, was a graduate of the Toyo Painting Department of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts and a student of Yuuki Somei. During the Japanese Rule, Murakami was a faculty member of the Keelung Girls’ High School in Taiwan. He established Zhantan Club, the largest private Toyo painting group in Taiwan, with Gouhara Kotou, Kinosita Seigai, Mizusumashi Kunishima, Lin Yu-shan, Chen Chin, Guo Hsueh-hu and Tsai Pin in 1930. He was also a member of the Tai-yang Arts Society. The customs and scenery of Taiwan are the main subjects in Murakami’s paintings. He applied traditional Toyo painting techniques and used color masses in geometric shapes to make his paintings look more succinct. Bright colors make his paintings highly decorative. Murakami was selected for the “Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition” 10 times and the “Taiwan Governmental Fine Arts Exhibition” two times. Ghost Festival in Keelung was awarded the Special Selection Prize at the 1st “Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition.” Murakami had published several articles, including “On Kinosita Seigai” at the Taiwan Times.
This painting is based on the folk activities held during the Ghost Festival in Keelung, Taiwan. In the backdrop are wood bridges filled with banners and flags over the Tienliao River of Keelung. Several junks, which are the main goods and passenger boats between Taiwan and mainland China, swing along sea waves. Two red-bricked western buildings stand respectively on the right and left-hand sides, with women looking out from windows to feel the flamboyance and joy of the street parade. Various teams in celebration can be found in the in the background, mid-ground and foreground, as crowds and even little dogs line on both sides of the street to participate in the festivity. Such depictions manifest the cheerful atmosphere of the festival. The decorative triangular areas on the upper right and the lower left of the painting, which are common in paintings from the Momoyama Period, indicate this is an otherworldly world. With this painting, Murakami was awarded the Special Selection Prize at the 1st “Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition” in 1927. According to the reviewers, Murakami “depicts the many aspects of life while reflecting the times. His paintings are delicate and resonating.” Many Taiwan painters were influenced by Murakami. From the 2nd “Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition” on, works on Taiwan’s folk customs appeared.
The promotion of art is not the only reason the Japanese colonial government in Taiwan established the “Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition.” It was also hoped that the “culture, custom and life in Formosa may be introduced to the general public” through the exhibition, and that local painters could use their advantages to develop a unique painting style based on the “logo colors” of Taiwan. The Keelung Ghost Festival is a perfect theme in the eyes of the exhibition reviewers. Observing folk activities of a colony from a colonizer’s view, moreover, is not just about re-presenting the customs and landscape of a place objectively, but also about telling a subjective story of what the author sees, feels and seizes. Such is a combination of choice, except and re-assembling. It is also an exotic presentation of Taiwan from a Japanese viewpoint.
|English title：||The Ghost Festival in Keelung|
|Medium / Classification：||Eastern Gouache|
|Collection Unit：||National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts|
|Contact method for authorization：||
Guide to the Use of Image Files and Data from the Online Collection Database
|Related Exhibition：||Unique Vision Ⅱ：Highlights from the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts Collection|