The discipline of art history in Taiwan began focusing its discussions around identity politics when the Ministry of Culture commenced the Taiwanese Art History Reconstruction Project in 2017. Classical masterpieces, archives, and artists from the Japanese colonization period as well as the post-war era in Taiwan were once again brought to light.
Sun Ten Museum donated 652 pieces of Xu’s lifelong collection to the Ministry of Culture, among them paintings by celebrated artists dated from the Japanese Colonization Period up to contemporary time. The museum was established in 1993 in the United States by Doctor Xu Hongyuan and his wife Hsu Lin-Lun, founders of Sun Ten Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. The museum and the ministry began their negotiation in May 2017 and sealed the contract in 2018. All works were shipped to Taiwan on August 28th, 2019. The National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts is entrusted with the collection, preservation, and management of these treasured pieces in hopes of strengthening the art history discourse in Taiwan.
In addition to welcoming back some original gems from overseas, the Taiwanese art world also launched a few excellent publications in 2019. Among them, Chen Cheng-PO in Close-Up is a collaboration between the Chen Cheng-po Cultural Foundation and the Ministry of Culture, organizer and funder of the project respectively. Published on August 2019, the catalogue contains a total of 53 oil paintings, watercolors, and sketches done by Taiwan iconic painter Chen Cheng-Po. Texts and image analysis accompany bodies of work in the landscape, self-portraiture, and female nude genres. The application of high-definition digital scanning and color management technologies created close-up details, highlighted as the catalogue’s hallmark achievement. With exquisite printing and binding features, the album is not only a book that connects the public with Taiwanese art history, but also a valuable collector’s item.
Solo exhibitions of pioneering Taiwanese modernist artists Chao Chung-Hsiang (1910-1991) and Wang Pan-yuan (1909-2017) were also held in 2019. Although equally prominent, Chao has not received as much attention in the art world as his China Academy of Art peers Zao Wou-Ki and Chu Teh-Chun. In spring 2019, the Asia University Museum of Modern Art presented The Distant Planet: The Art of Chao Chung-Hsiang, the largest retrospective of Chao in recent years. Curated by Wang Chia Chi, over 60 significant pieces loaned from private and institutional collections in Taiwan and Hong Kong were exhibited. Wang Pan-yuan’s solo exhibition The End of Solitude at Tina Keng Gallery was a revisit to Wang’s major retrospective By the Passing of a Thousand Sails: The Paintings of Wang Pan-Yuan at the National Museum of History in 2018. The sense of solitude and homesickness prevails both Chao and Wang’s extensive oeuvre in opposing styles of abstract symbolism and minimalistic elegance, characterizing the aesthetics of Chinese modern art.