Cheng Shan-hsi was born in Shima Town, Longxi County, Fujian Province, China in 1932. He was the son of the second wife of his father, and was named Yang Kuo-hsiung at first. Because his father and his birth mother passed away one after another when he was little, Cheng was then brought up by his “big mom,” his father’s first wife alone. During the few years when Cheng’s father was still alive, however, Cheng had acquired solid knowledge and skill in calligraphy by learning with him. Cheng moved to Taiwan in 1950 and enrolled at the Fine Arts Department of the Tainan Teachers School in 1953. As soon as he graduated from the Department of Fine Arts, National Taiwan Normal University in 1960, Cheng began teaching at the Taichung Teachers College. During student years, Cheng was cultivated by renowned painters Pu Hsin-yu, Huang Chun-pi, Chin Chin-po and Lin Yu-shan and established a solid foundation for becoming a painter himself. It was also during this time that he started creating Chinese ink paintings. Cheng was awarded the first prize in ink painting from the Provincial Fine Arts Exhibition in 1965. In the years to come, he would have received many other prizes at various events. With time, he has also developed a unique painting style. Cheng became a professor at the Department of Fine Arts, National Taiwan Normal University in 1974 and retired in 1992. He was awarded the First National Culture and Arts Foundation Award in 1997. Cheng still dedicates himself to creating ink paintings today.
Folk cultural events are Cheng’s much cherished childhood memories. He loves folk art so much that many of his works have elements of it. By taking folk stories and characters as the subject matters, he creates a kind of alternative charm for his works different from that of classical Chinese paintings. In this painting, characters from the Chinese Opera are presented through simple shapes and use of colors. It can be seen, in fact, that the essence of traditional Chinese culture can be well showcased through folk art.
Modern painting became the vogue in Taiwan in the 1950s. During this time, young painters adored western art so much that they started to create modern paintings. Even when they painted Chinese ink paintings, they would use an abstract expressionist approach of the west and the ink-and-wash techniques of the east at once to explore all possibilities. Although Cheng belongs to this generation, he decided to take an alternative path. He believes that, to revolutionize ink painting, one does not have to “refer to the traditional in order to complement the modern,” or to “draw something from the west to fit it in an eastern context.” He only takes his care for everyday life and observations of the living surroundings as the subject matters. This is because Chen is inspired by the Vernacular Movement in China, which aims to replace the archaic, literary language with the vernacular among the public. Thus, keeping the essence of traditional ink painting in mind, Cheng adds the traditional aesthetics of literati painting to a life-inspired creative style, discovering a new path for Chinese ink painting in modern times
|English title：||Characters from Chinese Opera|
|Medium / Classification：||ink painting and calligraphy|
|Collection Unit：||Collection of the National Museum of History|
|Contact method for authorization：||
National Museum of history
|Related Exhibition：||"The Pioneers" of Taiwanese Artists, 1931-1940|