Chen Zong Ho’s Painting "Grand Hotel" connects friendship of
the two citis at the virtual signing ceremony of
the 60th Anniversary of Houston Taipei Sister City relationship.
Chen Zong Ho’s watercolor painting "The Grand Hotel" is responsible for artistic diplomacy! This year (2021) is the 60th anniversary of Houston Taipei sister city relationship, on July 29th, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Taipei Mayor Ke Wen Zhe signed the "Reaffirmation of Houston Taipei Sister City Relationship Agreement". During the virtual ceremony at Houston ciity hall, Ms. Yvonne Chen, the daughter of Chen Zong Ho, donated her late father’s painting "The Grand Hotel" to the city of Houston, witnessing the signing of both parties. Luo Fu Wen, General Director of the Taipei Economic and Culture Office in Houston, Kenneth Li , Chairman of the Southwest District Management, Jorge Franz, Director of the Houston Tourism Bureau, Yao Yi, Director of the Asia Pacific Department of the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amy Grossman Coburn, the president of the Houston Taipei Sister City, the curator Yvonne Chen and others attended the meeting to witness.
"The Grand Hotel" was Chen Zong Ho’s artwork in 1971, it is a representative landmark of Taipei, and Mayor Turner also stayed there 15 years ago. The painting will be displayed alternately in the Houston City Hall for public appreciation in the future. The Taipei Economic and Culture Office in Houston also turned the paintings into commemorative postcards so that more people can see Chen Zong Ho’s artwork.
Chen Zong Ho (1928~2005) was born in Pingtung, he was an outstanding Taiwanese watercolor painter in the years after World War II (1945). He was guided by his teachers Liao Chi Chun, Chang Yi Hsiung and Ma Bai Shui at the National Taiwan Normal University. He graduated in 1950 with the first place in watercolor and sketching, and he became one of the first generation of painters in Taiwan to receive a domestic fine art university education in Taiwan (most of the predecessors obtained degree in Japan), representing the beginning of a new stage in Taiwan's fine art history. Since 1973, his works have been selected eleven consecutive times by the Japan Watercolor Society and exhibited at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. Chen Zong Ho devoted his life to create watercolor paintings of Taiwan landscape, which were also collected by Taipei Fine Art Museum, Kaohsiung Art Museum and others.
On July 4, 2021 in Houston, a fundraiser event was organized by C.A.R.E. (Chinese American Relief Effort) and the Southwest District Management to celebrate the American Independence Day. Yvonne Chen sold small reprints and postcards of Chen Zong Ho’s paintings collected by the Taipei Fine Art Museum, all proceeds were donated to a local elementary school in Houston. She also sold Chen Zong Ho's original work at a Chinese charity event in Houston in 2009, and the proceeds were donated to Taiwan's post-disaster reconstruction of Typhoon Morakot. From 2015 to 2020, she held several exhibitions for her late father at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Pingtung Art Museum, Tainan Art Museum etc., and will exhibit at Houston Public Central Library in 2022.
Chen Zong Ho's paintings style and his influence on Taiwan fine art:
While it was a fad that many watercolor painters of the same generation had abandoned watercolor for oil painting; Chen Zong Ho had persisted in watercolor painting of Taiwan’s landscape for more than sixty years. His early brushstroke was light and bright, was of the British-orthodox depiction with precise sketching basis and crisp colors, the features of Ishikawa Kinichiro and Lan Yin Ding can be seen in his paintings. At his midlife he started to mix transparent with opaque watercolors in painting, making colors stronger and thicker, with some works looking more like oil paintings. His color was as mellow as red wine, with his unruly brushwork rendering the scenery of Taiwan with intoxicating tone. Since 1989, he began to visit California, Hawaii and Houston, his style became enthusiastic and extremely colorful. At his late life, his style was even more unrestrained, the fauvism can be seen in his paintings.
His artwork was impressionism, he had tried applying black ink, pastel, pencil, charcoal pen, fine tip black signing pen in watercolor painting, he used Chinese brush pen instead of watercolor brush pen, he painted watercolor on canvas, just like a clever old urchin playing creative games. He was good at creating orderly themes out of chaos, depicting the messiness and vitality of traditional food markets, ports and busy streets, presented a plain living environment of humble hard-working Taiwan people. In addition to scenic spots, he also loved to depict the changes of landscape during Taiwan’s economic boom, new developing city look and old declining countryside look were intertwined in the same painting, giving a sigh on the rapid changes between destruction and reconstruction.
Chen Zong Ho was the first person whom the public would mention to get firsthand art information from in southern Taiwan around 60's. He was a school art teacher and he took a side job of promoting Japanese Pentel Fine Art Supplies to build its market in Taiwan. He demonstrated painting form with Pentel’s tools and pigment, provided Japanese art magazines to art teachers island wide, he assisted to hold children’s painting competitions and assisted Japanese painter to exhibit in Taiwan. He also took Okinawa painters accompanied by a nude model to demonstrate painting skill and art supplies in Taiwan, which influenced school art teachers to feel free to paint nude model in conservative old days.
At that time, there were very few painters could paint all over Taiwan in a short period of time. Chen Zong Ho later started his own business, he painted the landscape of Taiwan in watercolor while traveling for busines island wide. His efforts on irrigating Taiwan fine art in the early days was a wide-ranging impact.
1.Grand Hotel is one of Taipei’s representative landmarks and was the first five stars hotel in Taiwan. It was listed as one of the world’s top 10 hotels by Fortune magazine in 1967 and has since played host to foreign dignitaries including the late American President Eisenhower and Johnson. This painting is very precious not only because my father has passed away, but also because no other painting can be found depicted the Grand Hotel around 70’s.
2.Ishikawa Kinichiro (1871~1945) is the enlightener of western painting in Taiwan.
3.Lan Yin Ding (1903~1979) is a famous Taiwan painter, was selected as the top 10 watercolor painters in the world in 1971 by both European Art Critics Society and American Art Critics Society.
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