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Pioneers of a new age in Taiwan art

Yang Ying-feng, Ju Ming and Pu Hao-ming are known for using different materials and creating innovative techniques my

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Taichi Series - Single Whip: The most famous piece of Ju Ming's sculptures show postures of taichi practitioners.
Little Flying Phoenix: This sculpture of Yang Ying-feng, considered an echo of Advent of the Phoenix, was displayed at the Expo'70 in Osaka, Japan.
The Old Man and His Four-stringed Musical Instrument
The piece by Wang Hsiu-chi has a peaceful disposition and natural beauty.
Living World Series - Gossiping
Another piece of Ju's painted wood sculptures

Taichi Series - Single Whip: The most famous piece of Ju Ming's sculptures show postures of taichi practitioners.

Little Flying Phoenix: This sculpture of Yang Ying-feng, considered an echo of Advent of the Phoenix, was displayed at the Expo'70 in Osaka, Japan.

The Old Man and His Four-stringed Musical Instrument The piece by Wang Hsiu-chi has a peaceful disposition and natural beauty.

Living World Series - Gossiping Another piece of Ju's painted wood sculptures

There was a time when sculpture in Taiwan was limited to the carvings of religious figures and decorative pieces for temples. But in the 1920s local sculptors started to develop their own styles. Yang Ying-feng and Ju Ming are known for having opened a new chapter in the history of Taiwan sculpture by using different materials and creating innovative techniques that eventually led to contemporary Taiwanese sculpture being known for its beauty and power of expression. The works of modern Taiwanese sculptor Pu Hao-ming reflect breakthroughs in concepts that brought this art form on a par with the rest of the world.
Yang Ying-feng
Born in Yilan in 1926, this internationally renowned Taiwanese sculptor who was nicknamed "Yu-yu" grew up surrounded by beautiful mountains and crystal-clear streams.
His parents lived in Beijing where his father worked and Yang moved there in 1940. He developed a love for classical culture while in that city and decided to become an artist, even though his parents expected him to be an architect. In 1943, Yang went to Japan to study architecture at the Tokyo Fine Arts School. He also studied under Asakura Fumio, a student of the world-famed sculptor Auguste Rodin and a master of Japanese modern sculpture. Studying under these masters laid a solid foundation in Yang's own style - lifescape sculpture which emphasizes the harmony of humanity, environment, and art.
As Yang's interest in environmental arts began to germinate, his parents asked him to come back to China with the outbreak of World War II. He traveled to the Yungang Grottoes of Datong City in Shanxi province. The grottoes' 252 caves and 51,000 Buddhist statues were the legacy of outstanding stone carvers in China during the 5th and 6th centuries.
In 1953, Yang won his first award for Sudden Rain. Later in 1956, his Buddhist sculpture - Higher When You Look Up - was selected into the Sao Paulo Art Biennial and then collected by the National Museum of History in Taiwan. In 1962, he decided to quit his job at the magazine and concentrate on sculpture. He began to use stainless steel for his creations and traveled to Italy to study modern sculpture.
In 1970, he was invited to the Expo'70 (a World's Fair held in Osaka, Japan) to display one of his most famous works - Advent of the Phoenix. In later life, he devoted himself to the development of lifescape sculpture which has influenced Ju Ming, another well-known sculptor. Yang died in Hsinchu, Taiwan in 1997.
Ju Ming
Ju Ming, born in Miaoli County in 1938, is considered a legend in the history of modern Taiwan art. His creations have successfully transformed him from a traditional craftsman and artistinto a master sculptor at home and abroad.
Despite their poverty, little Ju's family sent him to school where he showed great interest in only two subjects - physical education and fine arts. In 1953, a shrine to Matsu - Chinese goddess of the sea - was under repair. The 15-year-old decided to learn woodcarving from Lee Chin-chuan, the craftsman in charge of the renovation.
In 1961, Ju Ming married Chen Fu-mei, a girl from his hometown. To show his love for her, Ju made the wood sculpture A Girl Playing in Sand. During this period, his prosperous career drove him to build a woodcarving factory and hire many apprentices. But the good times did not last. His business fell into a crisis due to over-investment and mounting debt. That serious blow became a turning point in Ju's life - he made up his mind to be an artist rather than a businessman.
Ju's artistic ambitions grew stronger. At 30 years old, he went to visit Yang Yu-yu, carrying a cloth bag with two of his creations - Portrait of My Mother and A Girl Playing in Sand. During that first meeting, Yang agreed to take him in as his student and this was another turning point in Ju's life. He was completely changed from a craftsman to an artist.
Yang valued the spiritually creative concepts which have deeply influenced Ju. He taught the young artist to discard forms, styles and perfect skills, in favor of preserving the spirit of his creations. Under Yang's private tutoring for eight years, Ju gradually developed his own idea that art is cultivation through practice. Yang also arranged for Ju to get public exposure through an exhibition at the National Museum of History. Ju's first solo exhibition in 1976 was amazingly successful.
Yang also urged the small, wiry Ju to take up taichi to strengthen his body and to develop mental discipline. Through daily practice, Ju not only learned about the union of body, mind and nature, but also applied taichi fundamentals to his work - Taichi Series. In sculptures such as Single Whip, he employed postures of taichi practitioners to infuse a sense of energy and motion into his works. In 1977, Ju held his first overseas exhibition at the Tokyo Central Art Museum. This exhibition won high praise from Japanese critics. However, the artist was never satisfied with his achievements and decided to go to America alone in 1980. During this period, he gradually developed the Living World Series.
Ju's artistic career reached a new peak in the eighties and nineties with the development of Taichi and Living World Series, his major works. He also made painted wood sculptures of the Living World Series by drawing inspiration from his life in New York City.
Over the past decades, Ju's works have been internationally admired, which makes him known as a world-class Taiwanese artist. In 2003, he received an honorary doctorate of art from Fu-jen Catholic University. "With hard work, even an ugly duckling can become a swan," Ju said during the ceremony.
Pu Hao-ming
Born in Chiayi City in 1944, Pu Hao-ming grew up in an artist's family. His grandfather, Chen Cheng-po, was a well-known Taiwanese painter; his father, Pu Tien-sheng, was one of the most influential sculptors in the history of Taiwan art. Inspired by his family, little Pu showed much interest in art.
In 1956, the 13-year-old learned skills of sculpture under his father's private tutoring, imitating the plaster busts including Homer, Beethoven and Venus de Milo. Encouraged by his father, Pu entered Chinese Culture University in 1963 to study sketching, watercolor painting and oil painting.
Supported by his family, Pu traveled to Europe and studied art in Belgium and France from 1980 to 1983. While in Europe, his Grape Shack, a bas-relief he made in celebration of his eldest daughter's birth in 1973, was selected into the Autumn Salon Exhibition of Paris in 1982. Pu's and his father's works were also accepted into the Spring and Autumn Salon Exhibition of Paris in a row from 1983 to 1984.
After his European studies, Pu returned to Taiwan and held a teaching job at Chinese Culture University. From 1993 to 1995, his well-known works - Female Rider, Fu Hsi Shih and the Flower of Life - were collected by Taipei Fine Arts Museum and Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts respectively.
In Pu's family, the love for art creation has been passed down from father to son for generations. "It's in our genes," said Pu in an interview with the China Times.
His eldest daughter held a degree in Political Science. But she has shifted her interest to art, having studied sculpture at the Kent Institute of Art & Design, southeast England.


Updated : 2021-10-19 03:47 GMT+08:00