Born in Tainan in 1942, Chen Cheng-hsiung moved to
Peikang when he was fourteen to learn the craft of woodcarving.
He finished his apprenticeship at seventeen and, now a qualified
professional, spent the next six years studying under a master
from Mainland China. They would travel from place to place
and practice their art doing woodcarvings for the local temples.
When his teacher and colleagues agreed that his skills and artistic
expression had reached a considerable level of maturity, he
returned to his hometown Tainan to begin his career as a maker
of religious statues. In his free time, he also tried his hand at
realistic depictions of people in the “real world.” Encouraged by
his friends, he submitted some of his creative work, originally
made only for his own entertainment, to an exhibition held by the Tainan Fine Arts Association. Against all expectations, his
work garnered the support and appreciation of senior experts and
critics such as Kuo Po-chuan. This gave Chen the courage and
determination to further hone his skills and focus his attention
on a purely creative career. In the years that followed, he would
participate in a series of exhibitions, including the ones sponsored
by the Tainan Fine Arts Association, and also the Taiwan
Provincial Art Exhibition and the Sinkouzou Exhibition in
Japan. His artistic achievements did not go unacknowledged:
every year between 1977 and 1979, Chen was awarded a first
prize by the Tainan Fine Arts Association.
stout camphor wood
69×38 ×35cm, 2006
In 1983 he won the Wu Sanlian Award, followed in 1984 by a Great Effort award at
the Sinkouzou Exhibition. In 1989, the National Art Gallery at
the Museum of History even organized a solo exhibition of his
work. Although his formal education did not go beyond elementary
school, Chen relied on his talent and tireless effort to surpass
his senior counterparts in academe and made his way into
the artistic Hall of Fame. His peculiar background makes the
thorough exploration of his artwork, its strengths and unique
characteristics, even more interesting and rewarding.
Harmony of Moon Guitar 琴韻
108×80 ×57cm, 2006
Shedding the Shackles of Tradition and Developing His Own Style
My first encounter with Chen’s work was his 1989 Folk Music in Temple Setting series (now part of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum’s permanent collection). It was a....