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Worldward: The Transformative Force of Art in Taiwan’s New Cultural Movement

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Post date:2021-10-25



Worldward: The Transformative Force of Art in Taiwan’s New Cultural Movement
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No.181, Sec. 3, Zhongshan N. Rd., Zhongshan Dist., Taipei City Taiwan, R.O.C
This year marks the centenary of the founding of the Taiwan Cultural Association (“TCA”). As the most important organization of the nationalist movement and ideological enlightenment of Taiwan in the 1920s, TCA advocated a new cultural movement to “achieve cultural progress”, including launching a petition movement to allow Taiwanese to participate in politics and striving to follow the trend of modernization. To commemorate this occasion, we are curating the exhibition “Worldward: The Transformative Force of Art in Taiwan’s New Cultural Movement”, featuring mainly classic representative works of the first generation of Taiwanese artists during the period of Japanese rule from the 1920s to the 1940s from our collection, as well as precious loans from the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and private collectors. 

During the 1920s, Japan had not yet established any specialized art schools or professional institutions such as art museums in Taiwan. Those who wished to pursue an artistic career had to go to study in Japan or Europe and enter art competitions to win awards in order to gain recognition. Thus, only students from a well-to-do background could afford to do so. Driven by a sense of national pride, Taiwanese artists wished to achieve equality with Japanese artists and deepen Taiwanese culture through artistic creation. Hence, they worked hard to pursue overseas studies. By participating in the Japan Fine Arts Exhibition, as well as in the “Taiten” (Taiwan Art Exhibition) and “Futen” (Taiwan Viceroy Art Exhibition) organized on the initiative of the Office of the Governor-General from 1927, or by gaining admission to French salon exhibitions, they not only succeeded in making a name in society by creating art, but also ushered in a golden age of Taiwanese art. 

The first generation of Taiwanese artists ventured out into the world. Apart from studying art in Japan and Europe, they also travelled extensively to broaden their horizons in order to reflect on how to depict the scenery and characteristics of Taiwan. They longed to welcome change, achieve equality and keep up with the world trends of art. The term “transformative power” echoes the slogan coined by Chiang Wei-Shui – “Compatriots must unite. Unite to be powerful!”. During the period of Japanese rule, “having power” implied “making progress”, as well as “transforming” one’s disadvantaged position and status. For artists, it also suggests the establishment of their inner self-identity and the transformation of their external social status. Under themes such as “Japanese painters/educators in Taiwan”, “art competitions and Taiwanese artists”, “modernity and local colour”, “images of the modern woman” and “the rise of photography”, the exhibition will showcase the works of 37 Japanese and Taiwanese artists, illustrating the distinctive Taiwanese cultural image and artistic styles they developed with a sense of mission and extraordinary passion.


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