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Taroko (Number One)

Oil painting, 116.5 x 72.5 cm, 1968

After Li Mei-shu (1902-1983), a renowned Taiwanese artist, and his family toured the Cross-Island Highway in his later years, he began to memorialize the trips through paintings. This piece, like the scenic Taroko area it depicts, is majestic and striking. Li wanted the viewers to feel like they have walked into the scenery in the painting, so he used a particularly narrow canvas to achieve the effect. In doing so, Li became the first Taiwanese artist to do a Western-style landscape painting on a canvas of this size. Since the unusually tall landscape could not be captured appropriately through camera lens, Li, who typically used photographs as references, used the mobile viewpoint of traditional ink paintings to render two photographs top-to-bottom. The resulting work can thus be seen as a creative experimental fusion of Chinese ink painting and Western oil painting techniques.

Within the Taroko National Park, there is a large marble which resembles the head of an Indian chief. If you look closely at this painting, you’ll find a side view of a chief’s face on the cliffs.

To learn more about Li Mei-shu, please go to Li Mei-shu, the “Great Wall” of Taiwanese Art Movement

Text and image are provided by The Li Mei-shu Memorial Gallery