Cheng Shan-hsi was born in Shima Township, Longxi County, Fujian Province, China in 1931. His father had hired a tutor to teach his son paint, and the young boy was greatly inspired. The young man came to Taiwan in 1950 and was admitted to the Fine Arts Department of Tainan Normal School, where he received solid training in watercolor and traditional painting. In 1953, Cheng graduated. He served as an elementary school teacher for three years before being admitted to the Department of Fine Arts at National Taiwan Normal University. Nurtured by master artists like Pu Hsin-yu, Huang Chun-pi, Chin Chin-po, Liao Chi-chun and Lin Yu-shan, Cheng created a style of his own. He became a lecturer at Taichung Normal College upon graduation in 1960, and fully concentrated on traditional painting instead of plein-air watercolor paintings. Cheng would teach at the college for the coming 18 years. In 1965, Cheng finally started to show his talent to the art community after winning the grand prize at “Taiwan Provincial Fine Arts Exhibition” for A Casual Talk on Mulberries and Hemps. Since then, Cheng has won many other prizes at government-run exhibitions and gradually developed a style of his own. The artist resided in the United States in 1969, visiting all major museums and observed art education in the country. The artist returned to Taiwan later on and started teaching at the Department of Fine Arts, National Taiwan Normal University in 1974. Upon honorable retirement in 1992, Cheng went in full gear in creating art. 1997, he was awarded the First National Cultural and Arts Foundation Prize of Taiwan.
This painting portrays a scene from “Rhapsody of Autumn Sounds” by Ou Yang Xiu from the Northern Song Dynasty: bleak autumn winds blow so hard that the rustling of tree leaves sounds like sea waves surging in the night. Cheng applies the symbolic approach in Beijing Opera to create this artwork. Scattered leaves indicate the desolation of autumn, while open windows and doors show that Ou Yang had been studying at night. The painting is reminds of what’s painted by renowned artist Ren Po-nien: in Ren’s work, a page tries to cover a candle with his right sleeve, indicating that autumn winds are being blown into the house. A bright moon hangs high up in the upper left corner, suggesting that it is late in the night. The story of Ou Yang studying in the night is expressed in a symbolic approach, and Ren proves that the painting does not have to be filled with dark ink to indicate the late hours of a day. The scene of “studying at night” is so fully expressed here. Calligraphy and painting, integrated, creates a space between the real and the surreal here. The subject looks so vivid that it almost comes to life. Such is one of the most proud-of works of Cheng.
Influenced by Pu Hsin-yu’s theory in literati painting, Cheng carefully studies poetry, calligraphy and painting. His creativity in calligraphy, ink-and-wash painting, engravings and porcelain works are manifested through a wide range of subjects: landscape, human characters, vegetables, still life and other interesting things in life. Cheng applies many different materials and makes sure that genuine feelings and care for life are felt in his works. In fact, everything and anything can be subjects of his paintings, and Cheng is nicknamed “a strange talent” in the art community. The artist has profound knowledge in Chinese literature, and has put immense effort in studying poetry and prose. He used to say he is profoundly enlightened by the promotion of written vernacular Chinese in the May Fourth Movement of China. Because he enjoyed Feng Zhi-kai’s “advice paintings” so much, Cheng started to create paintings with vernacular Chinese postscripts and elements of folk or children’s art. With masterly skills acquired through constant practices, the artist has been able to create a simple style worth being savored time and again.
|English title：||Ode to the Autumn|
|Medium / Classification：||ink painting and calligraphy|
|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|