Chen Chi-kwan, The Mind’s Eye- Commemorating the 90th Anniversary of His Birth

Tags: architecture | art | Chen Chi-kwan | painting

Chen Chi-kwan was born in 1921 in Beijing (known as Beiping at the time). As a child, his father invited a tutor to instruct him and his sister in the Four Books and Five Classics. He also did calligraphy as he learned seal, clerical, regular, running, and cursive scripts to further strengthen his foundation in traditional studies. The War of Resistance against the Japanese erupted when he was a youth, and his whole family ended up moving from place to place, finally settling along with the seat of government in Chongqing, Sichuan Province, where he studied architecture at Central University.

In 1944, before graduating from university, Chen Chi-kwan was drafted and served as an interpreter in the China-India-Burma Theater of World War II. After Japan was defeated, he returned to China and worked in Nanjing, setting sail for the United States later in August of 1948 to continue his studies. In 1951 he was invited by the famous Bauhaus architect Walter Gropius (1883-1969) to work for his architectural firm, also being recommended to teach part-time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Three years later, in 1954, Chen received a phone call from the architect I.M. Pei to go to Taiwan and work on designing the campus of Tunghai University. In September of 1960 he would return to settle in Taiwan on a permanent basis, setting up the Department of Architecture at Tunghai University and single-handedly overseeing the design of its Luce Memorial Chapel. From then on his life was inseparable from Taiwan, and he went on to great achievements in architecture and painting, his excellence in both being known far and wide.

Chen Chi-kwan used a uniquely Western perspective to revolutionize traditional Chinese painting, employing his "Mind's Eye" to view the world. His paintings have a pure and fresh quality, a style all their own. He developed innovative views on humanity and nature while achieving startling results in both modern and traditional aesthetics. Consequently, on 3 September 2004 the National Culture and Arts Foundation presented its eighth National Award for Arts in the category of fine art to Chen. The reasons were as follows:

1. With an architect's aesthetic, Chen Chi-kwan combined abstract concepts and monochrome ink to create a new kind of painting. He used a uniquely imaginative way to express a mystical, architectural, ethereal, and pure world seemingly beyond time and space. As a result, his works exude an aura of creativity and freedom.

2. Chen fused elements of recollection and imagination, to which he added his search for "innovation" in the moment. His works have a universal quality of constant expansion through radiating, juxtaposing, and repeating forms. His creativity in art is therefore unique.

3. Chen Chi-kwan's paintings reveal decorative colors, architectural lines, and mystical spaces, inspiring viewers to look beyond their surroundings in a completely new way. Thus, his style is both cumulative and inspiring.

These three reasons for presenting the award in many ways sum up Chen Chi-kwan's lifetime of achievement in painting. Thus, with the approach of the ninetieth anniversary of his birth by Chinese reckoning, the National Palace Museum is hosting this special exhibition organized by the Chen Chi-kwan Cultural and Education Foundation in memory of this master of modern art and architecture.


The Destiny: An Architect of Great Talent
Destiny is the convergence of fortune and opportunity.
In the same year that Chen Chi-kwan emerged from graduate school, 1949, he won first prize for the design of Stanford City Hall. Later, in 1956, he would also win first prize in the open competition for a youth center held by the American magazine Architectural Forum. He described it as an architectural entity using large hallways to divide the individual houses, much like traditional Chinese garden architecture. A genius in architecture, Chen Chi-kwan added Chinese elements to Western ideas and techniques, an innovation recognized by his peers. He was then invited to go to Taiwan and help plan the campus of Tunghai University as well as oversee the design of its Luce Memorial Chapel. From then on, Chen Chi-kwan's destiny was inextricably linked with that of Taiwan.

The Memories: Beacons from the War
Memories are part of the human experience, at times so deep as to be permanent.
In 1944, before Chen Chi-kwan had an opportunity to graduate from university, he was drafted into the China-India-Burma Theater of World War II, serving as an interpreter. From his home then in Chongqing, he went to Guizhou and then to Kunming in Yunnan. After a short stay in Kunming, he flew to Ledo in India. On the Ledo Road, he used watercolors and colored pencils to record what he saw along the way. Although these appear to be straightforward paintings and drawings, for Chen Chi-kwan they represented valuable memories to be treasured. These beacons from his memory actually opened new ways of seeing and had a major influence on his later art. In fact, many of his paintings were based on memories of this period, including "Vertigo."

The Emotions: A World of Affection

Emotions are the foundation of human affections.
Chen Chi-kwan was self-taught in art. He sought to use Western concepts to revolutionize Chinese monochrome ink painting, but he still retained a strong preference for the traditional brush and xuan paper. He used delicate shades of ink to depict monkeys, pigs, cats, cranes, fishes, fruits, and vegetables, which served as vehicles for a myriad of human expressions and emotions. Traditional subjects in his hand would become something from a completely different world. These paintings reflect a range of affections--joy, frolic, humor, innocence, etc.--with an interesting Zen-like quality that constitutes his microcosm of human relations. At the same time, these elements became the essence most highly appreciated in the monochrome ink painting of Chen Chi-kwan.

The Boundaries: Creating Space
Architecture is the delineation of space.
And its boundaries demarcate solid and void.
As early as the 1950s, Chen Chi-kwan would often incorporate architectural elements in his paintings. He especially favored designing views seen through round or hexagonal doors, developing and extending the scenery one layer at a time to create a sense of depth that expresses the intersection of solid and void in space. He once said that space consists of both solid and void, but:
    People often only see the colors but not the space,
    Only see the visible but not the invisible,
    Only see the solid but not the void,
    Only see the substance but not the space between substances,
    Only emphasize the architecture but not the thing that defines its space--the street,
    Only see the architecture but not the environs that influence its atmosphere.
                                                                       --Chen Chi-kwan


The View: A Mind's Eye for Scenery
Scenery is reflected in the eye, then stored in the heart.
Traditional Chinese landscape painting never actually treated the scenery in a truly realistic manner, but rather combined the scenery of yesterday with that of today to create a composite image. At the same time, Chen Chi-kwan was able to invent the scenery in his landscape painting. He used the "Mind's Eye" to view scenery and to depict an ideal world of freedom from top to bottom entirely from his heart. His pure, otherworldly, tranquil, and peaceful landscape paintings were done using a fine brush to depict myriad things in harmony coexisting in natural and scenic wonder, reflecting the sense of utopia envisioned in his mind. In doing so, he was able to leave behind the noise, contentiousness, and conflicts in life. Thus, Chen Chi-kwan wished to remind people that through his painting we can all live together peacefully.

The Void: Circling the Universe
In Chinese, the universe is often described as "The Great Void."
In the 1980s Chen Chi-kwan gradually raised his painting to universal heights as he began to reveal his "macroscopic" view. In his works he often combined imagery of the sun, moon, stars, and time of dawn and dusk, as if in space looking down on the Earth. This represented the culmination of his life experiences over the years. In other words, he underwent a natural progression from looking at things with the "naked eye" to using the "objective eye" and finally the "Mind's Eye." Taking the still landscape and turning it into a dynamic universe, Chen Chi-kwan combined sense and sensibility while raising the audience's viewing experience of his paintings.

The Art: Craft Refined, Colors Beautiful
Printmaking is a craft, but it is also an art.
In 1955, when still in the United States, Chen Chi-kwan personally made prints to experiment with a different kind of art. Many years later, someone suggested that he take up printmaking again so that even more people could share in the richness of his art, moving him to revisit this art form long since locked away at heart. So in 1997 he went to Paris to do lithographic printmaking, also personally instructing French masters in mixing colors and cutting blocks. The laborious and complex procedures led to him to comment that the process of printmaking, using dozens of printing blocks and layers of colors, is truly a different form of artistic expression. The exquisite and refined prints that Chen Chi-kwan made also ultimately reformed his artistic spirit.

The Thoughts: Building a Painting
Buildings require designing.
Paintings require planning.

Between the above two are many areas that link them together. As far as Chen Chi-kwan was concerned, moving back and forth between pondering a design and imagining a painting took little effort. Perhaps out of habit in his work, he would often spend much time before doing a painting to plan and design it, which is evident from his sketches. Each draft reveals how diligently he planned his works, and every sketch demonstrates his creative process. While drafts demonstrate his architect's way of thinking, Chen Chi-kwan's paintings went far beyond architectural reasoning to incorporate even greater realms of thought and imagination.


The Void: Circling theverse

Chen Chi-kwan (1921-2007), 1997
Ink and colors on paper, 186 x 32 cm
Collection of the artist's family

The gyrating perspective of this painting reveals a landscape scene from the Earth's surface. This is an experience that came from Chen Chi-kwan's travels along the way to India in 1944, when the plane he was taking encountered turbulence and was forcing into a spin. The people on board started spinning along with the plane as they looked down at the land below. The special composition of this painting thus expresses a different perspective, namely that all kinds of change are possible.


Floating Planet
Chen Chi-kwan (1921-2007), 1998
Ink and colors on paper, 186 x 32 cm
Collection of the artist's family

As science and technology advance in today's society, increasingly convenient forms of transportation have become common, resulting in the formation of a "global village." This painting takes an inclined view, also echoing the tilt to the Earth's rotation that produces the four seasons. In the work are representations of the sun and moon, placing the Earth in the universe. Thus, Chen Chi-kwan apparently wished that all things on Earth could co-exist in peace and harmony.


The View: A Mind's Eye for Scenery

Clear Day
Chen Chi-kwan (1921-2007), 1990
Ink and colors on paper, 30 x 61 cm
Collection of the artist's family

Zhangjiajie in western Hunan Province is a place that Chen Chi-kwan wanted to visit, and this work actually appears to depict the scenery of that place. However, it was only after completing this painting that he found out that a place that looks like this scenery really exists. Columnar peaks are a feature of Zhangjiajie, but this type of mountain appeared in Chen's paintings long before the scenic wonders of Zhangjiajie became known to the world.


Lotus Rain
Chen Chi-kwan (1921-2007), 1990
Ink and colors on paper, 30.5 x 62 cm
Collection of the artist's family

The composition and colors of this painting are quite interesting. Lotus leaves stand in the rain as stems crisscross with only one opened lotus blossom seen among them. Of particular interest is the depiction of rain as dotted lines, creating an effect similar to that of a curtain of bead strands. Closer examination reveals many fish and shrimp swimming in the water.


The Boundaries: Creating Space

The Mountain City Chongqing
Chen Chi-kwan (1921-2007), circa 1975
Ink on paper, 180 x 29 cm
Collection of the artist's family

Chen Chi-kwan was very innovative and experimental in spirit, and this painting of his is one of the best examples of such. Done using the technique of monochrome ink lines ("baimiao"), he rendered an impression of the mountain city Chongqing during his time spent studying there. With architectural one-point perspectives, he used the traditional horizontal handscroll line of view and changed it into a vertical one of steps rising ever upwards, the zigzagging perspectives successfully creating a sense of movement.


Chen Chi-kwan (1921-2007), 1979
Ink and colors on paper, 62 x 62 cm
Collection of the artist's family

This painting deals with depicting the notion of deep distance. In Western art, one-point perspective is usually used to express depth, but this technique is not found in traditional Chinese painting. Chen Chi-kwan, with his traditional training and Western studies, was able to use lines of view to pass through layers of round doorways and focus on the object of interest in the background, making it easier to achieve a sense of deep distance.

The Emotions: A World of Affection

Confusion (Untouchable)
Chen Chi-kwan (1921-2007), 1967
Ink on paper, 29 x 22 cm
Collection of the artist's family

This monochrome ink painting reveals the cleverness and humor of Chen Chi-kwan. With a single brushstroke, he rendered a cat from its tail to its paw reaching into the bowl and attempting to catch the goldfish. Tilted to the side, its head is viewed from the top as a square with two dots for the eyes and two for the ears. The cat seems to ponder how to get the fish out of the bowl without getting wet, the fish appearing safe and smug in its protective environment.
Chen Chi-kwan once said that the relationship between a cat and a fish is like that between Mainland China and Taiwan, respectively. People familiar with cross-Strait relations know what he is talking about. The original title of the work was "Untouchable," but when the work was displayed in Beijing, the title was changed to "Confusion" to avoid unnecessary speculation or problems.


Chen Chi-kwan (1921-2007), 1967
Ink and colors on paper, 33 x 33 cm
Collection of the artist's family

Monkey painting was one of the fortes of Chen Chi-kwan. Whether it was the use of brush, ink, or composition, he excelled at all of them, this work being a classic example. An old monkey kneels over with its chin in its hand, using its body as a balance to serve as a stage for the little monkeys in raucous play. Is this not almost exactly like a portrayal of the Chinese expression, "Head bowed, I willingly serve the children like an ox"?

The Art: Craft Refined, Colors Beautiful

Less is More
Chen Chi-kwan (1921-2007), 1977
Lithograph, 32 x 62 cm
Collection of the artist's family

Here, "less" refers to reduced brushwork, while "more" means deeper significance to the artwork, Chen Chi-kwan's choice of words having a somewhat Daoist approach. Chen noted in particular that he had a feeling of "separation" and "sorrow" with respect to this work; the two goldfish in neighboring bowls can be interpreted as lovers in different lands, or even as Taiwan and the mainland--close yet separate.


Chen Chi-kwan (1921-2007), 1985
Lithograph, 60 x 60 cm
Collection of the artist's family

In Chinese, the pronunciation for the characters in the words for "vase" and "peace" are the same ("ping"), which is why the Chinese used vase-shaped doorways to symbolize the phrase, "peace in and out (throughout)." This also naturally includes a desire for peace in the world, which is its ultimate expression. This work uses a view through layers of doorways similar to that in "Depth" and "View Within," all demonstrating "deep" space while also expressing its "tranquility."

View website


С этими словами "Скачать программу искусственного интеллекта"он повернулся и пошел в кусты.

Обращение в "Игры войнушки стратегии"истинную веру человека, обладающего вашими "Универсальный солдат 4 (2012) скачать"способностями и энергией это было бы чудесно.

Многие "Скачать программу для просмотра pdf файла"усердно трудились, равномерно ударяя по земле огромными кирками, как "Скачать тин тин"если бы рыли яму.

Господина в твиде "Ах эта свадьба скачать песню"он вроде бы лицезрел не впервые, "Скачать короткие мелодии на телефон"вроде бы видел где-то, не исключено здесь, в доме, и видел.

Был там "Скачать егэ егэ ответы скачать"и широченный крепостной ров.

Валдрон показал своим "Девушка обои на рабочий стол скачать"наемникам фотографии двух "Флеш игры няня"мужчин, один из них носил кимоно, другой был худой белый парень с широкими запястьями.