The most authentic art is that which arises from daily life.
Throughout his life, Chang Wan-chuan kept a comfortable distance from the mainstream of the Taiwanese art world and even from tertiary art education. Never trying to appease the aesthetic tastes of society or yield to the mainstream standards of art, he pursued what he believed to be the true manifestation of artistic creation. His styles, paints, themes and even brush strokes were never trapped in a certain mode. Instead, he confidently demonstrated a style of his own throughout his works. Even when he received negative newspaper reviews from art critics, his insistence on "being oneself" did not change.
Having joined and left the Tai-Yang Art Association on two occasions, Chang Wan-chuan also co-founded the Mouve Artists Society with Hung Rui-lin and Chen Te-wang, with whom he launched the Mouve Artists Society's first exhibition in March 1938 at the building currently occupied by the National 228 Memorial Museum (known as the Taiwan Education Association Building at the time). Later, the Mouve Artists Society was reorganized and renamed the Taiwan Creative Art Form Association, and its first exhibition was also held at this building in March 1941.
As a young, self-assured artist who refused to be constrained by the hardship of the war years, Chang Wan-chuan wandered widely throughout Taiwan and Amoy, using his paintbrushes to swiftly translate ephemeral moments, such as the sight of fresh fish dishes at his friend's restaurant, into vivid imagery on canvas or paper. However, in 1947, after being suspected of supporting students' participation in anti-government protests in the wake of the February 28 Incident, and knowing that his colleagues Chen Wen-pin (then principal of Jianguo High School), Ong Iok-lim (a school teacher) and many students had been successively arrested and held in custody, Chang Wan-chuan, who also worked as a teacher at the time, fled to seek refuge in the Yangmingshan and Jinshan areas. During this period, he met his wife and decided to settle down, choosing to make a career out of teaching. After his retirement, painting became the central pursuit of his life.
This special exhibition focuses on the first half of Chang Wan-chuan's life, spanning the beginning of his fine arts education, the selection of his art pieces once for the Taiwan Art Exhibition (also known as Taiten) and four times for the Taiwan Governor-General's Art Exhibition (also known as Futen), his founding of an art association, and his settling down to work as a school teacher. A total of 25 pieces are on display. Chang held the belief that "the most authentic art is that which arises from daily life" as his guiding principle and put this into practice over time. Having experienced the Japanese colonial period, the February 28 Incident, the martial law period, and the post-democratization period, he braved hardship in a proud and unyielding way regardless of how circumstances changed, and left behind a new chapter in Taiwan's modern art history.
1935｜Oil paint on panel｜33×23 cm
This is a self-portrait of Chang Wan-chuan in his youth. His face is drawn from the frontal view and his skin is evenly painted with heavy strokes, boldly accentuating the contrast between light and dark. His round glasses frame and slightly turned-down mouth corners demonstrate the determined and persistent sides of this young artist, who was at the time standing at a fork in the road, trying to decide the direction that his life and artistic creation would take. Self-portrait was a subject that the young artist often chose, as well as an assignment that every student needed to complete before graduating from Tokyo Fine Arts School. Featuring artists themselves as models, self-portraits quietly reflect artists' individual personalities.
A Scenery of Kulangsu Island
1940｜Watercolor on paper｜23.5×31 cm
1931~1938｜Pencil, Watercolor, Paper｜13.5×20 cm
1931~1938｜Pencil, Watercolor, Paper｜13.7×21.5 cm
These two pieces portraying street views in Amoy have not been dated. The sketches are estimated to have been created between 1931 and 1938, when Chang Wan-chuan visited his relatives and the Amoy Fine Arts College in Amoy, China. Different from the brushwork of other artworks selected for the Taiwan Governor-General's Art Exhibition (Futen), casual and quick brushstrokes like the ones visible here are characteristic of Chang Wan-chuan's painting. Ishikawa Kinichiro's influence on his watercolor techiniques can be subtly seen in the fluffy watercolor touches he used for blue skies and white clouds.
A Scenery of Kulangsu Island
1940｜Watercolor on paper｜24.5×31.5 cm
Date Unknow｜Pencil, Watercolor, Felt Marker, Paper｜22.3×26.4 cm
1940｜Oil paint, Felt Marker, Canvas, Panel｜31.6×39 cm
Guanyin Mountain, Tamsui
1963｜Watercolor, Crayon, Paper｜22.1×26.9 cm
Guanyin Mountain, Tamsui
1996｜Felt Marker, Crayon, Watercolor, Paper｜10F
Tamsui has been a popular subject for many Taiwanese artists, including Tan Ting-pho, Chen Chih-chi, Li Mei-shu, Lee Shih-chiao, Yen Shui-long and Hong Rui-lin, all of whom left behind paintings with Tamsui as the theme. Chang Wan-chuan's depiction of Tamsui is particularly full of affection, as the place where he was born and where the most vivid memories of his childhood were created. With the red brick church built by George Leslie Mackay and his son appearing in the center of Chang Wan-chuan's paintings, Chang portrays the roof tiles that stretch across the village of Tamsui, as well as Mount Guanyin standing on the opposite bank of the Tamsui river, and white arched corridors. No matter the kind of scenery, he used crayons, watercolors and oil paints to recreate his favorite views of Tamsui.
1968｜Felt Marker, Crayon, Watercolor, Paper｜24.5×35 cm
1970｜Felt Marker, Crayon, Watercolor, Paper｜30.5×39 cm
Date Unknow｜Felt Marker, Crayon, Watercolor, Paper｜18.9×26 cm
Date Unknow｜Felt Marker, Crayon, Watercolor, Paper｜21×27.6 cm
Sinjhuang Back Street
1968｜Charcoal Pencil, Watercolor, Felt Marker, Crayon, Oil paint, and Sketching Paper｜30×38.5 cm
On the streets of Xinzhuang in the 1960s, traditional Taiwanese-style houses featuring attractive red tiles and white walls stood closely side by side. Plumes of smoke coming from the chimneys on rooftops particularly strengthen the rustic atmosphere of the neighborhood, with the sizes and shapes of the buildings all appearing different. The thick black lines used in Chang's paintings increase the heaviness of the subjects and the red paint added to a slightly gloomy ambience enlivens the pieces.
Lukang Old Street
Date Unknow｜Oil paint on panel｜37×44.5 cm
A Scenery of Kulangsu Island
1940｜Watercolor on paper｜29×36.5 cm
At the same time as practising a relatively organic brushwork, Chang Wan-chuan also created a series of artworks that seemed to be more in line with market preferences. The composition of this series is more structured, and the use of colors and brushwork is more exact, conveying a feeling of solidity, in contrast to his usually wild and rough brushwork. The differences in brushwork seem to lay bare his struggle to strike a balance between his own individual style and the taste and requirements of government-held art exhibitions.
Landscape of Gulangyu Island
1937｜1st Taiwan Governor-General's Art Exhibition special selection
Oil paint on canvas｜72×89 cm｜Collection of Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM)
In 1938, Chang Wan-chuan was the only Taiwanese artist whose work was featured for the special selection of the first Taiwan Governor-General's Art Exhibition (Futen). In this painting, it was clear that Chang Wan-chuan refrained from his usual style of unrestrained spontaneity, and tried to focus on creating color blocks, representing the exotic buildings and atmospheric street view on Kulangsu Island. It can also be noted that the artist put a lot of thought into the portrayal of the walls, windows and roofs, creating an effect reminiscent of the School of Paris style that was popular at the time.
1955｜Oil paint on cardboard｜21×27.6 cm
Date Unknow｜Oil paint on canvas｜19.2×25 cm
Date Unknow｜Crayon on paper｜32×24 cm
Fishes and Fruits
1950｜Oil paint on canvas｜45.4×53 cm
This is one of the most representative still-life paintings created by Chang Wan-chuan in the early post-war period following the outbreak of the February 28 Incident. This is also the earliest piece from his fish series to have been dated. Featuring a large amount of dark color, this fish is black dorsally and white ventrally and has been painted in such a way that its white belly has taken on something of a yellowish orange tint. Thick and short lines are used and the brushstrokes seem slightly rigid. Overall, the painting style borders on melancholy, and the artist seems to have been in an exploration and learning stage at the time of creation.
Date Unknow｜Oil paint on cardboard｜16.6×24.3 cm
Date Unknow｜Oil paint on cardboard｜20.2×25.7 cm
1983｜Pastel, Watercolor, Paper｜26.4×38.6 cm
1985｜Watercolor, Charcoal Pencil, Felt Marker, Paper｜32×22 cm
An art education outside of art college
Chang Wan-chuan was born in Tamsui, Taipei, in 1909 during the Japanese colonial period. His father worked in customs because he knew English well. Surrounded by mountains, a river and the sea, and dotted by many Western-style red-brick buildings and Japanese-style government houses, Tamsui was where Chang Wan-chuan's dearest memories were created. Tamsui's scenery thus became the most common theme of his artistic creation in different stages of his life.
When Chang Wan-chuan was young, his father was often transferred to different locations for his employment. Therefore, Chang Wan-chuan also moved with his family from Tamsui to Keelung, then to his grandfather's residence in Kokanchi on Sozan (today's Gongguan Village, Shilin District, Yangmingshan, Taipei), before finally settling in Taihei-cho, Daitotei. Frequent house moves delayed his school education, and he only graduated from Shirin Public School in 1923 at the age of 15. He later started high school level at the same school for a year before completing his studies in 1924.
In 1924, Ishikawa Kinichiro was invited to teach fine arts in Taiwan at Taihoku Normal School by the principal, Yasuda Shoyoshi. Ishikawa Kinichiro's promotion of fine arts in Taiwan was not limited to the campus of Taihoku Normal School. He also used his own time to organize a sketch drawing student society, the Taiwan Watercolor Society, and summer art workshops, which people outside the school were welcome to join. Chang Wan-chuan joined the Taiwan Watercolor Society after chancing upon it, and his painting was chosen for display in the society's first watercolor exhibition in November 1927. In 1929, funded by Ni Chiang-huai and directed by Ishikawa Kinichiro, the Taihoku Institute of Western Painting (whose name was changed to the Taiwan Painting Institute the following year after its curriculum was adjusted) was established near the roundabout in Daitotei and started to enroll students on July 1. Chang Wan-chuan, who happened to live in Daitotei at the time, signed up to learn Western painting in the year he turned 21.
Encouraged by his peers to embark on the difficult path of studying art in Tokyo
Besides Ishikawa Kinichiro, many artists whose artworks had been honorably selected by the Japan Imperial Art Exhibition and the Taiwan Art Exhibition (Taiten), such as Ran In-ting, Ni Chiang-huai, Chen Chih-chi and Yang San-lang, were also teachers at the Taihoku Institute of Western Painting. Institute enrollees were predominantly students or alumni of Taihoku Normal School. During this period, not only was Chang Wan-chuan's passion for painting further ignited by Chen Chih-chi, but he also met Hong Rui-lin and Chen Te-wang, both of whom were also living in the same neighborhood of Daitotei. These three men became each other's greatest supporters, helping each other to improve their painting skills and to deal with life's challenges. Chen Chih-chi, who was one of the teachers at the Taihoku Institute of Western Painting and a graduate of the Tokyo Fine Arts School, was a prestigious artist whose artworks were selected for both the Japan Imperial Art Exhibition and Taiwan Governor-General's Art Exhibition (Futen) and who often shared his experience of studying at Tokyo Fine Arts School. In the 1920s, many Taiwanese artists made their names in the Japanese art circle, and in 1927, the inauguration of the Taiwan Art Exhibition (Taiten) created a brand-new platform upon which a new generation of Taiwanese artists could compete with each other. Chang Wan-chuan, Hong Rui-lin and Chen Te-wang together went to Japan to further advance their art education after being encouraged to do so by Chen Chih-chi.
In 1930, Chang Wan-chuan, Hong Rui-lin and Chen Te-wang arrived in Tokyo, where Chen Chih-chi arranged for them to study temporarily at the Kawabataga School (which focused on the basics of painting) and the Hongo Painting Institute (which focused on figure painting) before they could apply for the Tokyo Fine Arts School. However, none of the men met the entry requirements that stipulated "the applicant must have graduated from a five-year high school, or passed the tertiary entrance examination," so they instead applied for the Teikoku Art School (today's Musashino Art University), a private art school that had recently been established. Unlike the Tokyo Fine Arts School, which emphasized the training of practical skills, the Teikoku Art School believed that art education should include politics, society and concepts of caring for life. Therefore, it focused on cultivating humanistic ideas in students and encouraged fervent experimentation with avant-garde art. Chang Wan-chuan, Hong Rui-lin and Chen Te-wang were all accepted for admission to the Teikoku Art School in the spring of 1931. However, Chen Te-wang did not end up registering for enrollment, and Chang Wan-chuan abandoned his studies at the school soon after registration because of what he considered to be too many humanities courses and too few hours dedicated to actual painting. Only Hong Rui-lin enrolled and completed his studies at the school.
The journey toward an individual style outside of the mainstream
After he left the tertiary art school, Chang Wan-chuan decided to stay in Tokyo, spending all his time learning painting on his own at the Kawabataga School and the Hongo Painting Institute. Occasionally, he would leave his studio to visit different art exhibitions in order to gain a better understanding of the latest developments in the art world. At the time, a group of young Japanese artists (including Saeki Yuzo) who had studied in Paris had organized the Association of 1930 to advocate the creation of a style for the new era and promote avant-garde art in Japan, which resulted in Fauvism becoming popular in Japanese art circles. The individualistic unconventionality and authentically non-mainstream style of paintings created by independent artists who had not received tertiary art education amazed Chang Wan-chuan when he visited the 11th Shunyo-kai Exhibition and an exhibition held by the Osaka Fine Arts Enthusiasts Association in 1933. In 1934, Maurice de Vlaminck, a key proponent of Fauvism in European art circles, held an exhibition in Tokyo. Inspired by his Fauvist style of painting, Chang Wan-chuan did not leave the exhibition before buying a copy of his painting collection. This encounter set him on the Fauvist path of artistic creation.
Chang Wan-chuan as a young man.
This is a scene of a sketch class at the Taihoku Institute of Western Painting. Ishikawa Kinichiro is pictured standing in the back and Hong Rui-lin, Chang Wan-chuan and Chen Chih-chi are pictured from right to left drawing with their backs facing the photographer.
The bittersweet endorsement of the Taiwan Art Exhibition (Taiten) and the Taiwan Governor-General's Art Exhibition (Futen)
The training he received at the Kawabataga School and the Hongo Painting Institute finally paid off when Chang Wan-chuan's painting A Market Near a Temple was selected for the sixth Taiwan Art Exhibition (Taiten) in 1932.
Between 1930 and 1937, Chang Wan-chuan used his leisure time to periodically travel to Amoy, China to visit his relatives. While there, he also frequented the prestigious Amoy Fine Arts College, where he met Taiwanese artists Huang Lian-deng, Tsau Chiou-pu and Hsieh Kuo-yung. In 1937, he stayed in China longer than normal, and the part Chinese, part Western street views and buildings in Amoy and on Kulangsu Island became the subjects of his paintings (as evident in his illustration accompanying an article about Amoy published in Taiwan Daily News). In 1938, while traveling in Amoy, Chang Wan-chuan had no clue that his painting The View of Kulangsu Island had been featured in the special selection of the first Taiwan Governor-General's Art Exhibition (Futen), as it had been handpicked for submission by Hong Rui-lin from his house in Taihoku without him knowing. Only when a Amoy-based journalist from The Asahi Shimbun passed on word did he hear the good news. Later, many of the paintings that he created during his visits to Amoy were also endorsed by the Taiwan Governor-General's Art Exhibition, including A Church on Kulangsu Island, selected for the second Taiwan Governor-General's Art Exhibition in 1939, What I See in Amoy, selected for the fifth Taiwan Governor-General's Art Exhibition in 1942, and A Southern View, selected for the sixth Taiwan Governor-General's Art Exhibition in 1943. These paintings all took the city of Amoy, Kulangsu Island, or the ambiance of southern China as their themes.
Chang Wan-chuan may have won many awards in the Taiwan Art Exhibition (Taiten) and the Taiwan Governor-General's Art Exhibition (Futen), but his works reveal his hesitation about whether to paint in his Fauvist painting style or the style that was prominent in the official art exhibitions. From his paintings selected for the Taiwan Governor-General's Art Exhibition, it is clear that Chang Wan-chuan had toned down his originally wild, audacious brushstrokes and instead focused on the artistic rendering of the view and mastery of the composition and technique. There was more rational thinking than emotional expression in these works. However, his free and brisk brushstrokes can still be seen in his oil and watercolor paintings from the same period.
A Market Near a Temple, selected for the sixth Taiwan Art Exhibition (Taiten) in 1932.
The View of Kulangsu Island, featured in the special selection of the first Taiwan Governor-General's Art Exhibition (Futen) in 1938.
A Church on Kulangsu Island, selected for the second Taiwan Governor-General's Art Exhibition (Futen) in 1939.
What I See in Amoy, selected for the fifth Taiwan Governor-General's Art Exhibition (Futen) in 1942.
A Southern View, selected for the sixth Taiwan Governor-General's Art Exhibition (Futen) in 1943.
Chang Wan-chuan's painting A Relaxing View on Kulangsu Island appeared next to an article titled "Kulangsu Island" in Taiwan Daily News on December 11, 1938. This article, presented with Chang Wan-chuan's painting as illustration, details the culture and customs on Kulangsu Island.
Chang Wan-chuan's illustration Sketching in Amoy: The Street of Shapowei was published in Taiwan Daily News on March 6, 1939.
Leaving the Tai-Yang Art Association and founding the Mouve Artists Society
In November 1934, the Tai-Yang Art Association was established. From May 4 to May 12, 1935, its first exhibition was held at the Taiwan Education Association Building (where the National 228 Memorial Museum is currently located). The founders and members of this art association were Taiwanese artists whose artworks had been selected for the Taiwan Art Exhibition (Taiten), and they hoped to remove the constraints imposed by the Japanese judges and build an independent platform of their own. In 1936, Chang Wan-chuan, Chen Te-wang and Hong Rui-lin were officially invited to join the association, and they also joined the Tai-Yang Art Association's second and third exhibitions. However, the three men felt alienated from the artistic thinking popular among the other members, and did not think that the Tai-Yang Art Association was trying to create new distinctive aesthetics like the independent art groups they had seen in Tokyo. This sense of frustration planted the seed of the idea to create their own art group.
On October 18, 1937, Taiwan Daily News published an article titled "Five Artists Co-found the Mouve Western Painting Society," detailing how Chang Wan-chuan, Hong Rui-lin, Chen Te-wang, Chen Chun-te (who also previously studied in Japan), and Xu Sheng-ji (who Chang Wan-chuan met in Amoy and who changed his name to Lu Chi-cheng after the war) worked together to establish the Mouve Western Painting Society. The word Mouve was taken from the French word movement, meaning movement in English. The name was chosen by Lan Yun-teng, Chang Wan-chuan's roommate in Tokyo, and was deliberately spelt out as Mūvu (ムーヴ) in Japanese to symbolize an avant-garde and youthful orientation. Later, it was renamed the Mouve Artists Society after Huang Ching-cheng, a student from the sculpture department at Tokyo Fine Arts School, joined the group under the pseudonym Huang Ching-ting. From March 19 to March 21, 1938, the Mouve Artists Society held its inaugural exhibition at the Taiwan Education Association Building (today's National 228 Memorial Museum). The founding purpose of the Mouve Artists Society was clearly written on the exhibition invitation cards: "We establish the Mouve Artists Society to continually imbue fine arts with youthfulness, passion, and brightness." According to the Taiwan Daily News report, the exhibition included the artworks The Winter of the Northeast by Hong Rui-lin, Office by Xu Sheng-ji, and Urban Views by Chen Chun-te, as well as Huang Ching-cheng's sculpture Face.
After the exhibition ended on March 23, Nomura Koichi, a well-known art critic, published a review in Taiwan Daily News criticizing Chang Wan-chuan: "his paintings seem to reveal his insensibility to colors, which makes one suspect that his fundamental flaw might be an insufficient understanding of art supplies. His two watercolor paintings look fairly good in terms of technique." Nomura Koichi's mixed but overall negative review of Chang Wan-chuan's artworks did not discourage him and his fellow artists from adhering to the founding purpose of the Mouve Artists Society. In May, Chang Wan-chuan, Hong Rui-lin and Chen Te-wang officially left the Tai-Yang Art Association, which made the Mouve Artists Society an alternative art group with characteristics and a philosophy very different to the Tai-Yang Art Association. In August, the Blue Sky Art Society jointly founded by Chang Wan-chuan, Xu Sheng-ji and Yamazaki Shozo in Amoy held an exhibition featuring works by the three artists. In October, at the time when The View of Kulangsu Island was featured for the special selection of the first Taiwan Governor-General's Art Exhibition (Futen), Chang Wan-chuan had already accepted an invitation to teach in Amoy from Lin Ko-kung, the head of the Amoy Fine Arts College.
In 1936, the Tai-Yang Art Association held a press conference to announce its public review process as well as a traveling exhibition in southern Taiwan. When the exhibition came to Tainan, some members of the Tai-Yang Art Association had a group photo. Pictured from left to right in the front row are Tan Ting-pho, Liao Chi-chun and Yang San-lang. Pictured from right to left in the back are Hsieh Kuo-yung and Chang Wan-chuan.
On May 9, 1935, the Chinese version of Taiwan Daily News published an article titled "Tai-Yang Art Association Launches an Exhibition at the Taiwan Education Association Building," which mentioned Chang Wan-chuan's exhibited works, The View of Southern China and Tainan, a Historical City.
A group photo taken when the Mouve Western Painting Society was officially established on September 1, 1937. From the left in the front row are Chen Te-wang, Xu Sheng-ji and Chang Wan-chuan, and from the left in the back row are Hong Rui-lin and Chen Chun-te.
On October 18, 1937, Taiwan Daily News published an article titled "Five Artists Co-found the Mouve Western Painting Society."
The name of new member Huang Ching-ting appeared on the invitation card for the first exhibition of the Mouve Artists Society in 1938.
In March 1938, the Mouve Artists Society's first exhibition was held at the Taiwan Education Association Building (today's National 228 Memorial Museum). The Mouve Artists Society's members are pictured in a group photo with the sign at the entrance of the building.
In 1938, the participating members of the Mouve Artists Society's first exhibition took a group photo inside the building (today's National 228 Memorial Museum): pictured from top to bottom are Xu Sheng-ji, Chang Wan-chuan, Hong Rui-lin, Huang Ching-cheng, Chen Te-wang and Chen Chun-te.
In the Mouve Artists Society's first exhibition in 1938, Chang Wan-chuan posed for a photo with the exhibited works inside the exhibition hall (today's National 228 Memorial Museum).
In the Mouve Artists Society's first exhibition in 1938, its members met with Shiotsuki Toho at the Taiwan Education Association Building. Pictured from left to right are Xu Sheng-ji, Chang Wan-chuan, Huang Ching-cheng, Chen Te-wang, Hong Rui-lin and Shiotsuki Toho.
On March 14, 1938, Taiwan Daily News published an article titled "The Mouve Western Painting Society's First Exhibition to be Launched on March 19 at the Taiwan Education Association Building." Hong Rui-lin's exhibited work The Winter of the Northeast was also included.
On March 21, 1938, Taiwan Daily News published Xu Sheng-ji's painting Office that was exhibited at the Mouve Artists Society's exhibition.
On April 14, 1938, Taiwan Daily News published Chen Chun-te's painting Urban View that was exhibited at the Mouve Artists Society's exhibition.
On March 16, 1938, Taiwan Daily News published a photo of Huang Ching-cheng's (also known as Huang Ching-ting) sculpture Face that was exhibited at the Mouve Artists Society's exhibition.
On March 23, 1938, Nomura Koichi, a well-known art critic, published a review of the Mouve Artists Society's exhibition in Taiwan Daily News.
The twists and turns in the development of the Mouve Artists Society
In 1938, Chang Wan-chuan was invited to teach at the Amoy Fine Arts College. However, Amoy was affected by the war, and the running of the school and delivery of courses had practically come to a halt. Teachers and students were fleeing the city or transferring to different schools. Lin Ko-kung, the principal of the college, eventually left to seek refuge in Hong Kong and the Amoy Fine Arts College was soon completely shut down. In early 1939, Chang Wan-chuan returned to Taiwan and started to work at Ni Chiang-huai's Zuiho Mine in today's Ruifang, becoming a colleague of Hong Rui-lin, who had come to work there before him. In 1939, two of the Mouve Artists Society's members, Xu Sheng-ji and Chen Chun-te, joined the Tai-Yang Art Association. The other members may not have organized their own exhibitions, but they were all active in art creation. Chang Wan-chuan's A Church on Kulangsu Island and Hong Rui-lin's Labor were both selected for the second Taiwan Governor-General's Art Exhibition (Futen).
After his painting was selected for the second Taiwan Governor-General's Art Exhibition (Futen), Chang Wan-chuan decided to become a professional artist, leaving the Zuiho Mine before the end of 1939. Later he moved to Tainan to seek support from his good friend Hsieh Kuo-yung, who was from a prominent family in Tainan with significant financial resources and material wealth. Hsieh Kuo-yung's artworks had previously been selected for the Taiwan Art Exhibition (Taiten) once and the Taiwan Governor-General's Art Exhibition (Futen) twice, so his artistic skill could not be underestimated. Together with Hsieh Kuo-yung and Huang Ching-cheng, a member of the Mouve Artists Society whose statue A Standing Male was selected for the Japan Imperial Art Exhibition in 1939, the three artists jointly organized "The Mouve Trio Exhibition" at the Tainan Public Hall (today's Wu Family Garden) from May 11 to May 12, 1940. On a postcard sent by Hong Rui-lin to "my fellow artists from the Mouve Artists Society," the recipients' address is listed as Wangsiang Tea House, which was a fashionable café built by Hsieh Kuo-yung located near Hayashi Department Store in Tainan's most popular and most modern suburb known as "the Ginza of Tainan." The Tea House was intended as a venue where artists could socialize and art exhibitions could be held. As fish dishes were also provided there, fresh fish from the tea house's kitchen became a frequent subject of Chang Wan-chuan's sketch painting and a major feature in his later works.
At this time, the Second World War had already broken out. Due to the antagonism between Japan and Western countries like the United Kingdom and the United States, the Taiwan Governor-General's Office banned the use of Western writing systems. Therefore, the Mouve Artists Society had to be renamed. The members took this as an opportunity to establish a new organization called the Taiwan Creative Art Form Association and held their first exhibition at the Taiwan Education Association Building (today's National 228 Memorial Museum) from March 1 to March 4, 1941. In addition to regular members like Chang Wan-chuan, Hong Rui-lin, Chen Te-wang, Huang Ching-cheng and Hsieh Kuo-yung, artists such as Fan Cho-sao from the Department of Woodworking at Tokyo Fine Arts School, Yen Shui-long, who was formerly a Taiwan Art Exhibition (Taiten) judge and co-founder of the Tai-Yang Art Association, and Lan Yun-teng also joined the exhibition. The scope of exhibited works was expanded from paintings and sculptures to include bamboo furniture and other handicrafts. In 1942, the Taiwan Creative Art Form Association held a small, informal sketch exhibition at the Wangsiang Tea House in Tainan, which was also the last public event held by the Taiwan Creative Art Form Association. At the end of 1941, after Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor and the outbreak of the Pacific War, it became extremely difficult to source art supplies such as canvas and paint due to resource shortages. In May 1943, Taiwan Bijutsu Hokokai (the Taiwanese Association of Art in the Service of the Nation) was established, and membership of the new patriotic wartime art organization was the prerequisite for obtaining art supplies. Frustrated by the various state-endorsed campaigns that demanded artists donate their paintings to support Japan's military operations, Chang Wan-chuan decided to stay at Hsieh Kuo-yung's house in Tainan in an attempt to distance himself from the disturbing situation. Having graduated from the Tokyo Fine Arts School in March 1943, Huang Ching-cheng, a member of the Taiwan Creative Art Form Association, died after his ship Takachiho Maru was torpedoed by the US Navy on his way back to Taiwan. In 1944, the year that Taiwan Governor-General's Art Exhibition (Futen) was cancelled and the Taiwan Creative Art Form Association was forced to cease its activities, Chang Wan-chuan was drafted into the Imperial Japanese Army and was assigned the role of drawing for military purposes due to his artistic talent. In August 1945, Japan surrendered, ending the war and Japanese rule of Taiwan. Chang Wan-chuan was left dismayed by the uncertainty of the new post-war era, the death of his younger brother in combat, and the sudden death of his father. In 1946, Chang Yao-tang, the principal of Jianguo High School invited Chang Wan-chuan to teach at his school. However, a lack of appropriate positions meant he was made responsible for delivering the physical education curriculum and some student discipline.
A photo of Chang Wan-chuan and Hong Rui-lin resting at the Zuiho Mine (in today's Ruifang) in 1939.
On October 17, 1939, Chen Chun-te wrote a postcard to Chang Wan-chuan and Hong Rui-lin, both of whom lived at the First Subsidiary Pit of the Zuiho Mine in Kamaroa of Zuiho (today's Ruifang).
On the day before Chang Wan-chuan left the Zuiho Mine, he took a group photo with his colleagues at the First Pit of the Zuiho Mine. The fourth from the right in the front row is Chang Wan-chuan and the first from the right in the back row is Hong Rui-lin.
On May 13, 1940, a postcard from Hong Rui-lin, who was working at the Second Pit of the Zuiho Mine (previously the First Subsidiary Pit) in Kamaroa sent a postcard to his "fellow artists from the Mouve Artists Society" in Tainan.
A news article titled "Taiwan Creative Art Form Association Exhibition" was published in Taiwan Daily News on March 1, 1941.
On March 3, 1941, Taiwan Daily News published an article titled "The Last Day of Taiwan Creative Art Form Association's Exhibition" that introduced the sculptures and handicrafts on display.
On March 4, 1941, Taiwan Daily News published a notice titled "Taiwan Creative Art Form Association's Exhibition to Be Extended One Day." As the exhibited items had received such widespread acclaim, the exhibition's closing day was postponed from March 3 to March 4.
Teaching at Jianguo High School and the turning point of the February 28 Incident
From 1946, Chang Wan-chuan started to work at Jianguo High School, delivering physical education classes and some student discipline. Burly and sports-loving, he organized a rugby team for Jianguo High students and took them to compete in the first rugby league of the Republic of China.
The following year, on February 28, 1947, the February 28 Incident broke out in Taipei City, and people living there were the first to bear the brunt of the conflict. Witnessing mass protests, workers' strikes, student strikes and market closures in Taipei, schools announced a temporary pause to their classes in consideration of student safety. Many students took part in the mass demonstrations and the headquarters of the Monopoly Bureau became the target of protesting students from Jianguo High School, as the bureau was not far from the school. According to Liao Wu-jyh, one of Chang Wan-chuan's students and the current chairman of the Taipei Baoan Temple, Chang Wan-chuan asked the school's chemistry teacher to make home-made bombs using materials from the school's chemical laboratory and provide these to the protesting students after the outbreak of the February 28 Incident. The home-made bombs were of course no match for the machine guns employed by the soldiers of the Chinese Nationalist government, and the students who engaged in the resistance began to flee for their lives. Having assisted the students in the protest, Chang Wan-chuan became worried that his name would be included in the wanted list and feared that he would be implicated by the incarceration of Jianguo High School's principal Chen Wen-pin, who was accused of "civil disturbance," and by the arrest of Ong Iok-lim, a school teacher who had been missing since his residence was raided by Chinese Nationalist government soldiers. Tsau Chiou-pu, Chang Wan-chuan's Jianguo High School colleague and good friend from Amoy Fine Arts College, persuaded him to escape and seek refuge, and he went to hide at his grandfather's house in Gongguandi on Tsaoshan (formerly known as Sozan in Japanese and now called Yangmingshan). Chang Wan-chuan sneaked down the mountain every day to check if the dangerous situation had passed. In mid-March, after hearing that the Chinese Nationalist government's army had begun a military crackdown called "pacification" and a widespread household registration checking process called "village cleansing" that came with forceful arrests of suspicious people, Chang Wan-chuan fled again to the home of his brother Chang Wan-ju, who had a medical practice in Jinshan. While hiding in Jinshan, he fished for a living. As he did not have time to paint, he left behind almost no artworks from this period. In 1949, after the chaos surrounding the February 28th Incident had died down, Chang Wan-chuan married Hsu Pao-yueh, who worked at his brother's clinic.
A list of Jianguo High School teachers and students who were victims of the February 28 Incident in 1947
Name: Ong Iok-lim
Name: Chen Wen-pin
Name: Huang Shou-yi
Name: Kuo Kuo-chun
Name: Kuo Kuo-chang
Name: Wu Wo-si
Name: Li Te-chang
The staff of Jianguo High School took this group photo in 1946 or 1947, with Chang Wan-chuan pictured standing on the left and Tsau Chiou-pu pictured fourth from the right in the front row.
The Jianguo High School Rugby Team participated in the first Taiwan provincial rugby game, taking a group photo at Taipei New Park (now the Taipei 228 Peace Memorial Park). Pictured in the middle are Chen Wen-pin, the principal, and Chang Wan-chuan.
In 1951, Chang Wan-chuan led the students of the Datong High School rugby team to the sixth Taiwan provincial sports competition, where they took a group photo.
A painting career that continued into later life
The resistance movements inspired by the February 28 Incident had been forcibly stamped out by the Chinese Nationalist government army in 1948 when Chang Wan-chuan received an employment offer from Taipei Municipal Datong High School to teach both art and physical education. In 1950, in order to make ends meet for his family, he also started to work after hours in the Supplementary Education Section of Yanping High School. In 1964, he was employed to teach in the night school of the Department of Fine Art at the National Taiwan College of Arts. Chang Wan-chuan was working hard to support his family during this period and economic pressures impacted his artistic creation. In 1959, many of his artworks were destroyed by the August 7 flood, thrusting his life into such a deep struggle that he needed to borrow money from his students to pay rent. Nevertheless, his passion for painting was not dimmed by the hardship he endured. After his life became relatively more secure, he started to hold solo exhibitions, and also joined art exhibitions at Zhongshan Hall and galleries in Taipei and Kagoshima, Japan. In 1975, at the age of 67, Chang Wan-chuan resigned from all his teaching positions and fully devoted himself to painting. He spent more than a year painting while traveling in Europe, Japan and the United States. He painted to record the scenes he saw on his journey and organized solo exhibitions after he returned to Taiwan. In the 1990s, he remained a prolific artist even though he was already in his eighties. On January 12, 2003, Chang Wan-chuan passed away at home at the age of 95 due to failure of bodily function caused by old age.
Chang Wan-chuan lived through the Japanese colonial period, the February 28 Incident and the period of martial law. Apart from his personal fear that he might be arrested for having participated in the February 28 Incident, he also witnessed Fan Cho-sao from the Taiwan Creative Art Form Association being forced to escape overseas because of the February 28 Incident, and his student and teaching assistant at the National Taiwan College of Arts, Wu Yao-chung, being imprisoned during the White Terror era. In spite of the oppressive political atmosphere, Chang Wan-chuan was proud and unyielding in staying true to himself and worked hard to pursue his artistic ideals, leaving behind a remarkable chapter in the history of Taiwanese modern art.
Sketching in Tamsui in the 1950s, pictured from left to right are Chen Te-wang, student Sun Ming-huang, and Chang Wan-chuan. According to Liao Wu-jyh's account, Chang Wan-chuan often sketched more than 20 compositions in a day and finished them up with paint one by one when he got home.
This is a photo of Chang Wan-chuan's family in the 1960s. It was taken by Liao Wu-jyh, Chang Wan-chuan's student.
This is an autobiography written by Chang Wan-chuan when he was 60 years old in 1968. The content includes family, work, personal experiences, his art education, and especially mentions his friends Hong Rui-lin, Chen Te-wang, Chou Chun-jiang, and Yang San-lang. At the end of the manuscript, he wrote, "I hope that the lost Mainland can be recovered so that I can visit the different famous attractions there to sketch and research," a sentiment that was in line with the political atmosphere of the time.
Even at 85 years old, Chang Wan-chuan often took a sketchbook and pencils when he went out. Here, he is pictured sketching at a fish stall.