Curator: Ming-hsien Lin (Member & Head of the Research Team, NTMoFA)
Art history research has become a widely investigated field in Taiwan research since the 1990s. The efforts of most researchers have generally established the structure and context of Taiwanese art history, and offered distinguished analysis of artists’ biographies and styles. Fine arts history is composed by artists of different generations, and artists’ individual styles are important components establishing the particular tenor of each era. With this in mind, this essay endeavors to offer a cross-sectional analysis of artists’ lives and formative periods to identify artists with distinctive style, and to compare them with their peers from the same era. Cross-sectional examination of generational style can help bring to light their new creative approaches and place them in proper context, thereby offering new thinking and interpretation to the study of fine arts development in Taiwan.
The development of post-war fine arts in Taiwan was marked by its considerable rapidity and variation. In the effort to reflect this rapidly moving and changing character and the distinctive efforts of each artist, the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts has conceived “The Pioneers of Taiwanese Artists” exhibition series. Grouped by decade, from 1931 through 1980, and referring to the artists by “class,” the series presents six such “classes” in chronological order. The first exhibition in the series – “The Pioneers of Taiwanese Artists – 1931-1940” – features the Class of 1931-40, thus the point of reference for this essay is the group of artists born during this period. This generation of artists can be divided between those born in Taiwan and those born in mainland China before World War Two, both of whom share the experience of having lived through wartime and grown up in Taiwan following the war. However, these two cohorts were exposed to different cultural educations and social environments during their formative years, contributing to widely divergent thinking and scopes of effort in the face of new thinking on art, which effectively contributed to the diversity of fine art in the 1950s and 60s. Given the vital impact of historical background and the arts environment on the development of artists’ approaches and styles, this essay undertakes analysis and discourse in three main areas, namely Formative Environment and Changes, Arts Trends of the Formative Years, and Artists’ Unique Expressions, and proceeds to offer analysis of these unique artists to present a clear picture of the artists of Taiwan’s “Pioneer” period.
II. Pioneers’ Formative Environment and Changes
Artists born between 1931 and 1940 that grew up in Taiwan form two quite distinctive groups based on place of birth, either born in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period or born in China and locating to Taiwan from 1945 onward. Despite different birthplaces and experiences with social and political change, both groups endured the chaos of war and grew up under the Kuomintang (Nationalist, or KMT) regime after the war’s conclusion in 1945. Artists belonging to this period subsequently generally have complex backgrounds that reflect the period of their youth. In the effort to better understand the elements that influenced and established their varied artistic approaches this article begins by analyzing the eras that shaped them, namely 1931-45 in Taiwan, 1931-45 in China, and 1945-60 in Taiwan.
A. 1931-45 Taiwan
By the 1930s Japan had ruled Taiwan for over three decades since establishing colonial administration of the island in 1895. Over time under Japanese rule armed resistance nearly dwindled to nothing, and Japan’s introduction and promotion of Western civilization over that time brought about thriving social, economic and cultural development, making the Japanese period the height of Western culture and civilization in Taiwan. The literary realm saw the successive publication of Taiwan Bungei and New Taiwanese Literature, while such organizations as the Taiwan Arts Alliance and New Taiwanese Literature magazine were established. The fine arts arena featured major exhibitions such as the Taiwan Fine Art Exhibition first held in 1927 onward, and the Taiwan Governor General Exhibition, renamed in 1938. The first generation of artists cultivated by fine arts education and exhibitions held in Taiwan during the Japanese period brought a fresh atmosphere to Taiwanese fine arts, continuing to exert their influence on the arts community during the post-war period. Following Japan’s invasion of China in 1937, the colonial Japanese administration of Taiwan stepped up its efforts to make locals subjects of the Japanese empire, promoting the Japanese language, banning Taiwanese folk religions while boosting faith in Japanese Shinto, and encouraging people to take Japanese names. This Japanese cultural policy remained solidly in force through the war’s conclusion in 1945. Artists such as He Chao-chu, Chen Yin-huei, Chen Jing-rong, and Chen Jeng-shiung, who grew up under the educational policies and social environment of the Japanese period in Taiwan, were indelibly influenced by the Western modernism and promotion of Japanese identity and loyalty introduced by the colonial administration.
B.1931-45 Mainland China
Ever since the establishment of the Republic of China in 1911 China was mired in a prolonged period of war, carved up by warlords and wracked by the civil war between the Nationalists and Communists from within, and invaded by Japan from without. Japan’s encroachment of China began with the Mukden Incident on September, 1931, and continued through her defeat at the conclusion of World War Two. In 1946 the Kuomintang government lost the upper hand in the civil war and began retreating southward. Members of the “Pioneer” generation born during the most tumultuous period of fighting drifted along with the tides of war until the Kuomintang regime finally picked up and relocated to Taiwan, where they began a new stage of formative experience. Artists born during this period that relocated to Taiwan after 1945 include Cheng Shan-hsi, Hsia Yang, Wu Hao, Huo Gang, Jhuang Jhe, Feng Jung-ruei, and Shiao Chin. They grew up in a China beset by the ravages of war in a society undergoing transition from traditional to modern. It was a period during which people yearned for reform, and which continued to introduce to introduce Western influences as had begun during the late Qing and early Republican era, engaging in reforms by placing Western utility over a Chinese framework. This formative experience in a China seeking modern reform was seared in their memories.
Japan’s rule over Taiwan came to an end in 1945 with its defeat in World War Two, ushering in a new post-war era. From that time until to the nationalist government’s formal relocation to Taiwan in December of 1949, the island remained in a state of formal anarchy, yet private cultural exchange continued unabated. Relocation to Taiwan was conducted in successive stages as the KMT government suffered one defeat after another. It was under such a climate of instability and intense hostility between the Nationalists and Communists that placed conflict a hair trigger away that the February Incident took place in 1947. A declaration of martial law ensued on May 1949, and the Nationalist government instituted the Act for the Control and Punishment of Rebellion and the Espionage Prevention Act During the Period for Suppression of Communist Rebellion, key elements composing the framework for the ensuing White Terror that enveloped Taiwan in fear and suspicion over the next decades and did not wane through the late 1950s.
With the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 and Taiwan’s increased strategic position, the United States declared its commitment to protecting Taiwan and resumed both military and economic aid to the KMT regime. In addition to monetary and material aid, the US undertook various cooperative technical cooperative and sweeping developmental initiatives between 1951 and 1965, establishing an excellent political and economic foundation and infrastructure in Taiwan. This set the stage for Taiwan to emerge out of the tumultuous political, economic and social situation of the early 1950s to recover steadily by the end of the decade and achieve relative stability as the 1960s dawned. Changes in the political economic situation brought about various cultural pressures and influences, cultural and political identity, and issues of social conflict and assimilation that come hand in hand with mass emigration. Nevertheless, whether born in Taiwan or China, the artists that grew up during this time equally faced the challenges of new learning under the same establishment of a closed era.
III. Artistic Trends of the Pioneers’ Formative Years
For the “Pioneers” generation 1945 was a critical, life-changing year. For starters the artists born in Taiwan had to deal with the rule of a new regime, as well as overcome and acclimate to a new written and spoken language, culture, and socio-political order – as if placed into an alien environment on their own land almost overnight. The generation of Pioneer artists that migrated to Taiwan from mainland China had to confront being uprooted, leaving behind family, and arriving to a strange land, get their bearings and begin anew. Members of this generation from two different backgrounds with divergent experiences were forced by this critical historical period of upheaval and change to learn and build something new against the same background. The formative period for the Pioneer generation took place between 1945 and 1960, a time during which they acquired knowledge and skills in the fine arts and drew artistic inspiration. Further, fine arts development in Taiwan slowly emerged from the shape it took on during the Japanese period, incorporating elements of Chinese culture and new thinking from Europe to raise the curtain on a new era. Below we summarize the transformations in Taiwanese fine art engendered by the new thinking of the 1950s according to the following three groups:
A. Spread of the New Art Movement
Art sought an avant garde approach during this period. In addition to educational enlightenment and direction, this new concept gained momentum into a full-blown trend through the most direct forms of media promotion and coverage. However, Taiwanese society of the 1950s was conservative as well as under martial law and its attendant restrictions on freedom of speech and expression, with government policy toward newspapers and magazines especially severe. For instance, the Cultural Purity Movement initiated by the Chinese Literary Federation called for “rooting out cultural poisons,” forcing the closure of numerous magazines. A considerable number of publications were instrumental in promoting modern artistic concepts during this period, including: Free Youth, New Art, This Week in China (founded in 1950), Genesis (founded in 1954), University Life (founded in 1955), Hsiung Shih Art and Fine Art (established in 1956), Wen Hsing (established in 1957), and Pi Huei and Modern Art (founded in 1959. Newspapers such as United Daily News, Central Daily News and Taiwan New Life Daily featured Arts and Culture sections and literary supplements. Most of these publications were founded as part of the official establishment, and were largely established and published by government or Kuomintang party subsidiary agencies. During a closed era the dissemination of new artistic ideas and approaches must often be appended to the establishment’s cultural policy in order to have room for maneuver, so that even the most emblematic magazine (New Art) established its stance upon the framework of “anti-Communist arts and culture.” Publications were able to give voice to new artistic ideas and approaches at this time precisely due to linkage with concurrent government cultural policy or the Kuomintang’s “anti-Communist arts and culture” ideology.
B. Promotion of New Artistic Concepts
During the interim period between the withdrawal of the Japanese and the Kuomintang’s relocation to Taiwan, some artists drew creative inspiration from social issues, focusing on everyday living. This became known to the annals of Taiwanese fine arts history as the Social Realism Period, which marks the first period of transformation following the Japanese period. With the infusion of arts figures accompanying the Nationalist regime from the mainland, the promotion of the New Art Movement under the administration’s planned arts and culture policy had a vast impact on the development of fine arts in Taiwan during the 1950s. The beginning of the New Art Movement can be marked by the founding of New Art magazine by publisher Ho Tie-hua in 1950 and its promotion of the “Free China Emerging Art Movement.” The New Art Movement essentially continued to follow the direction of China’s new art movement established in the early Republican period, embracing Chinese historical experience, and failing to propose newer artistic ideas and approaches under the restrictions of social and cultural policy over Taiwan. Under such a framework, although New Art magazine carried a broad variety of articles, the majority was penned by transplants from the mainland, thus conveying the cultural and editorial biases of central government authorities and carrying the biases of Chinese cultural chauvinism. Accordingly, it displayed scorn and antipathy towards Taiwanese culture, having been subjected to half a century of rule by an alien race. This then led to the debate over the orthodoxy of Chinese painting in the 1950s, which subtly triggered the “Chinese painting reform movement” of the 1960s. Although New Art magazine was a creature of the Chinese Arts Association, where the common thread was “anti-communism,” during this period it managed to introduce modern art schools and ideas, including Fauvism, Cubism, Expressionism, Futurism, Abstraction, and Surrealism, thus playing an educational and guiding role for the younger generation. Under the direction of avant garde Western-style artists in Taiwan from mainland China, as such it provided a new stage at the head of the 1950s arts community in Taiwan outside of the established order of the Provincial Exhibition.
C. Beginnings of the Modern Painting Movement
Under the concerted efforts of mainland-born Western-style avant garde artists to promote the New Art Movement, in addition to utilizing the power of magazines the arts community in 1950s Taiwan also provided direct instruction to interested parties via painting master classes. Notable among these were: Huang Jung-tsan’s Art Study Group, the New Art Research Institute founded by Ho Tie-hua, and Li Chun-shan’s An Tung Street Studio. These three study groups, all of which had strong ties to the Nationalist government, had a far-reaching impact on young students through their instruction. For instance, the core group of students under the tutelage of Li Chunshan comprised of Li Yuan-chia, Hsiao Ming-hsien, Hsia Yang, Shiao Chin, and Wu Hao went on to establish the Ton Fon Art Group, whose counterpart Fifth Moon Group was founded by graduates of National Taiwan Normal University’s art department including Liu Kuo-sung, Chen Jing-rong, Kuo Tong-jong, Li Fang-chih, Kuo Yu-lun, and Cheng Chung-Chuan, both of which exerted tremendous influence on Taiwan’s art community. The new artistic approaches of the Pioneer generation comprised a new force in modern Taiwanese painting.
The year 1957 was a key turning point in the transformation of Taiwan’s art world, witnessing the successive establishment of the Ton Fon and Fifth Moon groups whilst the New Art Movement spearheaded by mainland-born artists began to bear fruits. As the younger generation of artists began making inroads, and publications carried articles promoting modern painting, art groups comprised of young artists demonstrated new aspects of art through the power of exhibitions, further introducing contemporary Western thinking and unprecedented exhibitions of contemporary Western art to set the stage for the growth of modern Taiwanese painting. In addition to the efforts of artists and media to promote and feature modern painting, the government’s cultural policy was further instrumental in placing modern painting in the mainstream of fine arts in Taiwan. Amidst the power struggle between the Nationalists and Communists playing out on the international stage, the orientation of the works entered into the Sao Paolo Biennial was critical. In consideration of the government’s stance on diplomatic and cultural exchange, the new school of young artists soon comprised the main force representing the country at international biennial exhibitions, launching modern painting as the hot new trend on the local arts scene. In addition, Taiwan responded to invitations to the Sao Paolo and Paris biennials by selecting modern painting works, further boosting the study of modern painting.
Discussion of modern painting matured at this time throughout Taiwan’s arts community. Following the establishment of the Ton Fon and Fifth Moon groups, the New Art Movement advocated in the early 1950s by avant garde artists born in China lost its luster, and fine arts in Taiwan transitioned from the New Art Movement to the Modern Painting Movement. Approaches and styles entered a new stage during this period as young artists born in the decade prior to World War Two comprised the main force guiding the Modern Painting Movement in 1960s Taiwan.
IV. Unique Expression of “Pioneers” born from 1931-40
The formative period for the “pioneer” generation of artists born between 1931 and 1940 coincided with a time of increased diversity and change in Taiwanese society. In spite of their different birthplaces and origins, shaped by the new ideas and approaches of the New Art Movement and Modern Painting Movement in post-war Taiwan they exhibited unique perspectives on art, so that their artistic interpretations and innovative forms of expression not only established distinctive creative styles but also reshaped fine arts in Taiwan. Brief introductions to selected creative and still active members of the generation born before the war who exemplify the qualities of “pioneers” follow.
|Liu Kuo-sung:||Liu offered a fresh approach to traditional ink painting, incorporating elements of Western painting and introducing Western artistic concepts to classical Chinese civilization to fashion an entirely new painting vernacular. The pioneer of modern ink painting in Taiwan, Liu has given new life to the art of ink painting.|
|Cheng Shan-hsi:||An artist that maintained a steadfast embrace of traditional ink painting against the tide of modern ink painting, who depicts the face of social reality with unembellished, practiced traditional technique. Conveying an unvarnished, simple style, Cheng has opened new vistas on traditional ink painting.|
|Hsia Yang:||A founding member of the Ton Fon Group, Hsia Yang joined the promotion of modern painting in post-war Taiwan, offering unique observations, judgments and commentary on the essence of modern civilization. His Fuzzy People series symbolizes the tension between the frantic movement and the coldness of modern living spaces.|
|Wu Hao:||A charter member of the Ton Fon Group, Wu Hao is skilled at using lines to describe flowers, figures, and animals symbolizing happiness, wealth, good fortune, and joy. Works are characterized by the use of opulent folk and decorative elements that bring out the artist’s unique impressions of the times and living landscapes in a joyous atmosphere.|
|Chen Jing-rong:||A charter member of the Fifth Moon Group, Chen’s work combines such unusual and disparate topics as landscapes, human figures, and plaster statues in a cold style. The artist’s images are populated by gaunt, maudlin figures, desolate landscapes and street scenes, rendered with a steely gray palate to convey tranquil, lonely beauty. Chen’s mysterious lonely beauty and surreal style stands apart in the Taiwanese art world.|
|Chen Jeng-shiung:||This artist draws from indigenous Taiwanese art as a wellspring for abstract painting, as well as from Chinese calligraphy to form a painting vernacular of his own. His works bear the strong imprint of the figures and colors of Taiwanese aboriginal art and observation of the color of Taiwan’s scenery. Chen is one of the few Taiwanese artists working completely in abstract painting active on the international scene.|
|Han Shiang-ning:||Han sprays a light layer of colored dots onto hyper-real works, like covering his paintings with a gauzy cloth to give his works a misty visual character. The ethereal images blend fantastical, lyrical qualities into rational, mechanical civilization.|
|Ju Ming:||From traditional wood carving to modern sculpture, Ju Ming boldly experiments with assorted subjects and materials in his works, combining modern language and rough-hewn technique to bring out a highly modern, spare sculptural style.|
|Shiao Chin:||A founding member of the Ton Fon Group dedicated to modern painting, Shiao incorporates Western Modernism into Oriental spirit to explore Asian awareness and spirituality. His Crossing the Utmost Bounds series in particular explores art through the wisdom of life to bring out the inspiration of the internal spirit.|
|Jhuang Jhe:||Working on the foundation of Chinese landscape painting, Jhuang expresses meditative thought through abstract means along with colors stressed in Western art to offer a new interpretation of Chinese landscape painting.|
|Lin Shou-yu (Richard Lin):||Lin’s paintings are chiefly constructed with geometric shapes, lines, and color fields in search of spare appearance with rich meaning. Taken to the limit, his art reflects the modern aesthetic notion of “less is more,” and exerted a strong influence on Taiwanese art in the 1980s.|
|Gu Fu-sheng:||A charter member of the Fifth Moon Group, Gu’s works are entirely people-oriented. For him, people are a medium for conveying ideas, for focusing on beguiling human nature, comings and goings, the mysteries of physical desire and the dreamy realities of life. The core intent of his lifelong work is the exploration of existential meaning.|
|Lee Shi-chi:||Lee is closely focused on the languages of folk and traditional art and the fusion of modern painting spirit, bringing about opposition and unity between the traditional and the modern in his works. For decades his art has conveyed a distinctive national style, wide-ranging, psychedelic, spontaneous, multifaceted, deconstructive and reconstructive, and versatile enough to earn him the moniker “chameleon of the art world.”|
|Liu Gung-yi:||Completely self-taught, and never a joiner of art movements or schools, Liu’s art takes in his people and surroundings, not only recording old culture but also reflecting his passion for life and warm critical perceptions of art. The cultural spirit and humanitarian qualities he embodies are rare in the Taiwanese art world.|
|Su Hsin-tien:||Su considers how time and space interrelate in the universe from the perspectives of philosophy, mathematics, and physics, using brush strokes to explore the brilliant cyclical nature of space and time based on what we know today to forge a distinctive “cycloramic” style of painting.|
|Liao Shiou-ping:||Liao has been instrumental in the introduction and teaching of modern printmaking in Taiwan, and has incorporated Western painting and printmaking techniques into local cultural sensibilities. Firmly asserting that painting must touch upon living memories, Liao continues to create prints rich with modern feeling and Taiwanese cultural meaning structured on everyday Taiwanese folk themes.|
|Lin Hsin-yueh:||From surrealism constricted under modernism during Taiwan’s martial law period to his sweeping assessment of Taiwan upon martial law’s demise, the artist depicts Taiwan’s lofty mountains, grand rivers, and ecology in a unique style combining academic precision with surreal colors to offer a fresh perspective on local sentiment.|
|Hwang Chao-mo:||The product of strict academic training, Hwang has lived amidst Western culture for over two decades without becoming restricted by it; rather, his art lets go and gets back to basics to convey the natural ease and tranquility of Oriental art, and this is where the greatest value of his works lies.|
|Lin Jia-yan:||Filled with elements of death, storms, beasts, evil spirits, nightmares, abnormality and freakishness, Lin’s works express the faces of mind and spirit in the relationships between the soul and nature, deep and remote, offering a totally non-academic style.|
|Pan Chau-sen:||Pan’s works emanate with strong nostalgia populated by characters with no mouths, eyes closed, and arms held tightly across their chests. These unusual figures cause viewers to reflect their sweetness mixed with sadness, producing romantic and indelible memories replete with lyrical atmosphere and quiet melancholy in a narrative style unique in Taiwan’s arts community.|
|Feng Jung-ruei:||Mixing ink and oil painting and augmenting abstract forms with calligraphy, as well as utilizing experimental rubbing and collage techniques, Feng brings out abstract ink landscapes that set him apart in modern painting fusing Chinese and Western stylistic elements.|
|Liu Chung-hsun:||Liu’s works fashioned with glass bottles hold a precious timely significance in Taiwanese compound media arts, establishing the way for uniquely innovative ready-made art in Taiwan.|
|Ho Chao-chu:||Beginning with painting from nature, separating and combining new orders upon Cubist images and revealing painted spaces in Fauvist colors, Ho established a style of his own. Emerging with a new look in a conservative era at the Provincial Exhibition, he gained fame as an award-winning Western-style Taiwanese artist in the 1950s.|
|Chen Yin-huei:||Receiving an academic foundation under the tide of Modernism, Chen absorbed the theory and rules of Cubism, his painting fusing Cubist principles with the tensions of Fauvist colors and surreal settings. Despite an avant garde appearance, his style strikes a balance between reason and emotion that stood out in a conservative era.|
|Yang Yuan-tai:||Yang has spent years dedicated to bringing together ceramics and sculpture to reshape the formal expression of modern ceramics. The artist’s works are characterized by a strong upright stance and simple glaze colored subjects in combination with full yet spare forms – like well-placed landscapes – to draw a latent spirit out from deep in the land.|
|Huang Chau-hu:||Dedicated to the pursuit of modern ink painting and frustrated at the inadequacy of non-representational black ink to replace tribute and caring for the universe and land, Huang developed his “colored ink art” approach, incorporating interest in humanity and ecology to establish a new artistic language and style of his own to express a boundless realm of the soul.|
|Huo Gang:||Transforming images of nature’s multifarious elements into simple lines, forms, and colors, the artist’s works evoke symbolic, revealing, and mysterious atmospheres. In a rational Western abstract style, Huo displays simple, clean, ethereal Zen-like abstract elements and forms with a dose of metaphysical painting expression.|
A charter member of the Fifth Moon Group, Hsiao began working in modern painting in the 1950s, incorporating the lines of Chinese pictographic writing into the forms of abstract Western painting to present a fresh style of abstract painting with Oriental symbolic visual language.
The study and interpretation of Taiwanese fine arts over the years have established a complete structure, within which the developmental context of Taiwanese fine arts is clearly put forth. Analysis of artists’ lives and styles has similarly yielded significant results, but research is a neverending road. In the effort to look into a perspective outside this framework, this essay presents analysis by generational “classes” according to decade to observe from the standpoint of artists’ creative styles the background factors of the times and various aspects shaping artistic development. General observation of the “Pioneer” generation shows that the artists’ diverse styles can be roughly grouped according to the following features: 1) Exploring tradition. Artists including Liu Kuo-sung, Chuang Che, Feng Jung-ruei, Liao Shiou-ping, Lee Shi-chi, Wu Hao, Shiao Chin, Hsiao Ming-hsien, Cheng Shan-hsi, and Huang Chao-hu have utilized traditional visual symbols, techniques, and aesthetic theory to develop art with individual and contemporary character. 2) Exploring formal color: Under the tide of modern painting artists including Huo Gang, Chen Jeng-shiung, Chen Yin-huei, and Ho Chao-chu, have employed pure painting and visual forms and aesthetic interpretations to forge individual styles amidst sweeping change. 3) Expressing personal concern: Artists like Lin Jia-yan, Pan Chau-sen, Liu Gung-yi, Gu Fu-sheng, Chen Jing-rong, and Lin Hsin-yueh sought not to employ the forms and symbols of modern art and avant garde thinking, but rather to transform feelings and emotions from their lives into their art to forge a world for expression of unique individual sentiment. 4) Developing and exploring media: Artists such as Yuan Yuan-tai, Ju Ming, and Liu Chung-hsun elaborated on forms and materials in original ways, not limiting their work to two-dimensional and formal expression, but offering new interpretations to the synthesis of three-dimensional space and forms with materials to bring about distinctive looks. The commitment of the Pioneers generation to artistic exploration not only established unique individual styles, but also brought the face of the new generation to Taiwanese fine arts. Like a flood of sharp light cutting through the closed Taiwanese society of the 1950s and 60s, their zest for innovating lent the expanse of Taiwanese art captivating brilliance.
Two key terms used in conjunction with the "Pioneers" exhibition deserve further elaboration, as follows:
Assassins / Pioneers
The Chinese title of this exhibition utilizes the term "Assassins" to describe the generation of artists that shaped Taiwanese fine arts in the post-war era. Lacking the clear cultural and literary context for "Assassins" that exists in Chinese culture and language, we opted to refer to these artists in English with the equally appropriate description of"Pioneers." Like the Assassins described in the "Biographies of the Assassins" chapter of the Shi Ji (or Book of History) by Sima Qian, pioneers do not fit neatly into the continuum of society, culture and history, instead choosing their own path. The Assassins chronicled in the Shi Ji deviated from Confucianism's emphasis on The Middle Way, exhibiting an iconoclastic spirit and drive that made death preferable to sacrificing their ideals. China's Assassins appeared under particular conditions, in turn shaping society and history. Pioneers emerge today in each realm of our modern, diversified society, bringing new energy and contributions. As this is true of the fine arts realm, for this exhibition series we identified and selected artists from a given generation with a unique approach and personal style engaged in the pursuit of art for decades. In Chinese we dubbed them "the Assassins," and in English we refer to them as "the Pioneers" of Taiwanese fine arts.
We also use the term "class" in relation to this series of exhibitions to mark different "generations."Of"generations," As Goethe said, a difference of a decade on either side of one's date of birth could turn someone into a completely different person as a result of one's education and actions. Consequently, those born at the same time under a similar environment are subject to similar influences, especially in their formative years. These factors and influences imprinted on this cohort shape a generation, its values, lifestyle, and even the conduct of its constituent members.
Generally speaking, a generation is counted roughly every 30 years in terms of the rhythm of life, whilst historically generations less easily fall into a pattern, shifting faster or slower along with the pace of society and changes in the world. The introduction of diverse cultural elements and influences and rapid pace of social and political change in post-war Taiwan shaped a generation every decade. With this in mind, we arranged this exhibition series according to generational "class" by decade, starting with artists born in 1931 and ending in 1980.