“A Hidden Gem: Works of Hsu Pao-lin” on display at NMH
At the National Museum of History (NMH), an exhibition titled “A Hidden Gem: Works of Hsu Pao-lin” is on display from June 17 to July 31. NMH invites Hsü’s family and Professor Liao Jen-I of Taipei National University of the Arts to examine and select 50 pieces of the artist's works and present them in this exhibition, hoping to introduce this excellent teacher and artist and to give Hsu his due in the art history of Taiwan.
Liao Jen-i, the curator of the exhibition, indicated that the fact that for this exhibition the Hsu family waited for over 30 years really means a lot to them. The artist passed away on the very same date 30 years before the opening press conference, and holding the exhibition at the NMH which is right across from his high school also means that he has found his place in history after being forgotten for such a long while.
Born in Shenyang in 1932, Hsu Pao Lin went through a difficult childhood. To flee the war, he traveled to Beijing in 1946 with his uncle and studied at a junior high school. It was then he began to find his love of art and painting. In 1949, he came to Taiwan and entered the Chien Kuo Senior High School and studied at today’s National Taiwan Normal University. Hsu was among the first group of artists in Taiwan to study abroad with a government subsidy. Having spent years living overseas and presented his works in several exhibitions abroad and in Taiwan. In 1968 he returned to Taiwan and began his educational career in the Department of Fine Arts, National Taiwan Normal University, where he taught drawing, watercolor painting, and oil painting. In 1987, he passed away suddenly in Taipei, leaving behind a collection of works yet to be appreciated and studied.
Hsu Pao Lin has his distinctive style and subject. Viewing his works in total, we see that landscape, portrait, and still life are three predominant subjects. His early enthusiasm for architecture is reflected in his works of natural and man-made outdoor landscapes. What makes him special is his persistence in landscape painting and sketching among his contemporary artistic trends of avant-garde and abstract expressionism. Academically, Hsu is also the first person to introduce the mosaic art to Taiwan. He taught mosaic classes at NTNU and in 1973 he published the first monograph on mosaic art in Taiwan, which remains a must-read for students of the genre.
Among Hsu’s 180 works, almost 80 percent of them are landscapes, and among his few portraits, the characters are mostly his wife and daughter, showing his love and concern for his family. One of his still-life paintings, a traditional breakfast for three, is considered the most touching work among all, which shows that he really valued the time he spent with his wife and daughter.