Development of Modern Art in Taiwan, 1930s-1990s: An Introductory Outline

On the occasion of the exhibition 'Between: Picturing 1950-60s Taiwan', the Australian Centre on China in the World is pleased to announce a public lecture by Emeritus Professor John Clark (University of Sydney) on the Development of Modern Art in Taiwan, 1930s-1990s: An Introductory Outline.

This lecture surveys the development of modern art in Taiwan from the Japanese colonial period, with its relatively free exchanges between Taipei, Tokyo, and Shanghai.

After 1945, the anxieties of war recuperation and tragedies of nationalist occupation put much pressure on artists, even to the extent of denial of the Japanese transmissions.

Some mature artists also moved to Taiwan with the Guomindang armies, and many came as children, including as orphans. But the Taiwanese art world was not isolated and always had extensive overseas links.

Japanese-trained artists survived and formed a kind of art establishment by the late 1950s and 1960s, but even those Taiwanese artists they trained broke away to become modernists in a European manner. Ink-based guohua, or ‘national painting’, also underwent considerable development in Taiwan, often before other places in the Chinese ecumene, and came to be informed by international modernism or the international travel experiences of the artists.

These tendencies towards an art which was both Chinese and modern could have a culturally aggressive edge, which saw the formation of radical art groups with quasi-manifestoes in the late 1950s. But by the late 1970s the academy underwent changes in both verismo and expressionist directions, and even before the end of Martial Law in 1987, a political art concerned with the interpretation of tabooed history arose. In the mid-1980s artists returning from England, Italy, Spain and USA, brought home a decorative minimalism which could be fused with either pop expression or philosophical abstraction. By the late 1980s, artists clearly showed they were aware of many stories of identity in Taiwan, beyond those of a Chinese nationalism, which were based on gender, geographical origin, and social power.

<b>About the Speaker</b>

John Clark is Emeritus Professor in Art History at the University of Sydney, the author of five books and editor or co-editor of another five. His Asian Modernities: Chinese and Thai art of the 1980s and 1990s, Sydney, Power Publications, 2010, won the Best Art Book Prize of the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand in 2011. His most recent book is Modernities of Japanese Art, Leiden: Brill, 2013, forming a pair with his Modernities of Chinese Art which also appeared from Brill in 2010. He is currently working on a two-volume study, The Asian Modern, 1850s–1990s.

The exhibition will be open from 5:00pm-5:30pm, and again 6:30-7:00pm, to allow viewing before and after the lecture.