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Traveling Through Lands: Scenic Painting
Innovating with Tradition: Abstraction and Ink
A Floral Brocade: Flower Painting
People and Places: Figure Painting

Lee Tze-Fan

Lee Tze-Fan (1907-1989), born in Hsinchu City, was among the first generation of Western-style painters in Taiwan. After he began studying watercolor painting from the Japanese Western-style artist Ishikawa Kinichiro (1871-1945) in 1924 (during Japan's rule of the island), Lee resolved to devote himself to the world of art. In doing so, he never looked back and worked diligently, his career in painting spanning more than six decades. From the Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition (Taiten) and Prefectural Fine Arts Exhibition (Futen) of the Japanese period to the Provincial Fine Arts Exhibition (Sheng-chan) of the post-Japanese era, he went on to win many awards in art competitions and continued to produce new works even up to the year before passing away. Lee Tze-Fan's paintings represent the spectrum of art trends that swept Taiwan throughout much of the twentieth century, ranging from social realism in the 1950s to abstract expressionism of the 1960s and the return to nativism in the 1970s. In each of these stages, his art advanced and he continued to make breakthroughs. Into the 1980s, his paintings increasingly came to reveal a style fusing the techniques of Chinese and Western manners along with the spirit of life and culture in Taiwan. In the end, his works express a deep and overall artistic essence along with personalized, individual emotion.

This year (2007) marks the centennial of Lee Tze-Fan's Birth. To commemorate this pioneer of twentieth-century Taiwanese painting, the National Palace Museum is cooperating with the Lee Tze-Fan Art Education Memorial Foundation in putting together this special exhibition at the Museum. The selection includes representative works by Lee from the 1930s to the 1980s along with examples of his studio implements and writings. Looking back over Lee Tze-Fan's life and the stylistic development of his art, one comes away with a greater understanding of this Taiwanese artist strongly cultivated in Western art education, and how he was able to set firm roots in his homeland and create works expressing a native consciousness using Western techniques.

Lee Tze-Fan advocated that "the rhythm-harmony of painting is intricately bound with that of life, so one must live and think truthfully to have a foundation in the Way [of painting]." Lee's passion for and sincere contribution to the art world in Taiwan formed a stream of consciousness that flows unending from his works and expresses his deepest concerns in life. Lee Tze-Fan also dedicated much of his life to teaching other future art instructors, having many students throughout his career, especially in the Taoyuan, Hsinchu, and Miaoli area. Indeed, in Taiwan he is remembered not only as an outstanding painter, but also as an exceptional educator in the fine arts.