Lot 1052
  • 1052


8,000,000 - 12,000,000 HKD
9,720,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Liao Chi-Chun (Liao Jichun)
  • Tamkeng Scenery
  • signed in Chinese and dated 1960artist studio label affixed to the stretcher on the reverse
  • oil on canvas
  • 65.5 by 80.5 cm; 25 ¾ by 31 ⅝ in. 


Taipei, Ravenel, 5 June 2011, Lot 155
Acquired directly from the above by the present important private Asian collector


Taipei, Taiwan Provincial Museum, The 15th Taiwan Provincial Fine Arts Exhibition, 17 – 25 December 1960
Tainan, Tainan Social Education Center, The 15th Taiwan Provincial Fine Arts Exhibition, 11 – 15 January 1961
Taichung, Taichung Library, The 15th Taiwan Provincial Fine Arts Exhibition, 21 – 25 January 1961


15th Taiwan Art Exhibition Pictorial, 15th Taiwan Art Exhibition Preparatory Committee, Taipei, 1960, p. 49

Catalogue Note

The Vigorous Beauty of the Pioneer The singular beauty of China’s natural scenery has provided artists with endless inspiration. These paintings, invoking the theme of the homeland, are inevitably imbued with a heightened tenderness and affection. This emotion is then transmitted to the collector, who feels compelled to answer the call of a painting that depicts a familiar and beloved place, thus establishing an emotional bond between artist and collector. Tamkang Scenery (Lot 1052) is one of the iconic paintings by Chinese master Liao Chi-Chun. This piece was chosen by the artist for the 15th Taiwan Provincial Fine Arts Exhibition from 1960-1961, travelling through Taipei, Taichung, and Tainan. The painting’s subject not only reflects a place where the artist enjoyed gathering inspiration while he was teaching at Taiwan Normal University, its style reflects a brave breaking-away from the Japanese School style, with which the artist had become familiar after spending many years abroad in Japan. In this painting, the artist demonstrates an open-minded boldness, forging ahead into the wave of abstractionism that had swept into the art scene in the 1950s, and emerging with a new artistic style.

The Chinese painter’s time in Japan can be understood against the historical backdrop of the Hundred Days Reform at the end of the 19th century. In 1905, Li Shutong (Hongyi Master) was admitted into the Tokyo University of the Arts, an era during which Western oil paintings were beginning to make their way into China via Japan. In the 1910s and 20s, other mainland Chinese artists such as Guan Liang and Ding Yanyong continued to travel to Japan, but from Taiwan, nobody was more accomplished than Liao Chi-Chun. Liao Chi-Chun was born in Taiwan during the Japanese occupation, and through sheer dint of hard work and perseverance, he was admitted into the Tokyo University of the Arts in 1924, and received an education in oil painting that included the study of Impressionism, post-Impressionism, and Fauvism. He graduated with high marks, and in 1928, he was invited to participate in Japan’s Imperial Art Exhibition with his piece Courtyard with Banana Trees. Later, the artist returned to Taiwan, and began pushing the development of Taiwanese oil painting, both through teaching and through his own creations. In 1946, Liao Chi-Chun accepted a position at Taiwan Normal University, where he taught for the remainder of his life. It was there that he first created the foundation for his post-war life and artistic endeavours. While living in Taipei, Liao Chi-Chun often visited the outskirts of the city to draw from life. Tamkang Scenery is a painting of the beautiful landscape of Tamsui Village, situated northwest of Taipei. The Tamsui River, which channels into the ocean, has been famous for being a trading port with the Netherlands since the 16th century. With its charming natural scenery, it was an inspirational location for the artist. According to the main publications of Liao Chi-Chun’s work, paintings that feature the Tamsui River date as early as 1956 until the artist passed away in 1975; it was a series that spanned twenty years. When painting Tamsui, Liao Chi-Chun often placed Guanyin Mountain in the direct centre of the painting, with the Tamsui River lying horizontally in front of it, the composition seemingly an homage to Cezanne’s portrayals of Mont Sainte-Victoire. Yet Tamking Scenery is an exception, with three-quarters of the tableau depicting a Tamsui Village scene in the foreground, and only one-fourth of the canvas in the top right depicting the Tamsui River and the sky. Here, the artist is no longer pursuing a realistic portrayal of the scenery, nor does he use the one-point perspective in order to achieve higher accuracy. Instead, wielding gorgeous colours in his frank and individualistic style, he expresses a lithe and cheerful image, using blocks of reds, greens, yellows, and whites, almost resembling piano keys, such that the landscape is sublimated into a joyous abstract composition.

The fact of Tamkang Scenery being rendered in an abstract manner carries great historical significance, both for Liao Chi-Chun’s personal development as well as the development of art in Taiwan. In the 1950s, Taiwan was well on the road to recovery, and the Japanese School of oil painting no longer enjoyed the advantage of official endorsement. Abstract painting in the post-war West was quickly rising, becoming a highly influential force upon young artists. As a senior member of the artistic community as well as a teacher, Liao Chi-Chun, with characteristic open-mindedness and magnanimity, supported Liu Kuo-Sung and Chuang Che’s founding of the avant-garde Fifth Moon Group. And with remarkable equanimity, the veteran artist made a break with his earlier style and accomplishments, and instead began creating abstract paintings, which were more aligned with his personal philosophies. Tamkang Scenery was completed in 1960, right at the pinnacle of activity and liveliness for post-war Taiwanese artists. Both the Fifth Moon Group and the Ton-Fan Group were continuously provoking the art world with a stream of new theories and paintings. In particular, they challenged Taiwan’s provincial art exhibition as an oppressive symbol of the official system. Liao Chi-Chun bravely stood by his students in the front lines, welcoming the new tides, and yet he allowed Tamkang Scenery to be featured in the Taiwan Province Art Exhibition. In this way, he thought to serve as an important model, undoubtedly tempering the clash between the new and the old, further facilitating the quick pace of development of Chinese contemporary art in Taiwan. Liao Chi-Chun’s contributions marked a historical signpost that continues to be recognized today.

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Ever Harvest Art Gallery, Taipei