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Lee Chun-Shan Centennial Memorial Exhibition
Artist(s): LEE Chun-Shan
Date: 10 Sep - 20 Nov 2011

Widely regarded as the “mentor of Taiwanese modern art”, Lee Chun-Shan (1912-1984) was Taiwan's leading pioneer of abstract painting. His legacy was influential to many others, including some of Taiwan's most prolific modern art groups such as Oriental Art Society and May Painting Society. It is worth noting that, under the guidance of Lee Chun-Shan, the first-generation members of the Oriental Art Society played a particularly crucial role in opening up meaningful space for the development of modern art in post-war Taiwan in the second half of the 1950s and remained active until the dissolution of the group in 1971 due to personal engagements and other commitments of its members. Other art groups which followed the footsteps of the Oriental Art Society and the May Painting Society in promoting abstract painting in Taiwan have included Liberty Painting Society, The Gluttons Painting Society and Modern Eyes Painting Society.

Lee Chun-Shan is fondly remembered and praised for his unorthodox way of teaching art. During the 1960s, he regularly gave lectures and seminars at a coffeehouse, successfully fostering a new generation of modern-art practitioners who had learned from Mr. Lee not a certain set of techniques or artistic styles, but instead the true spirit of modern art, which is all about ideas, creative processes and self-discovery of the artist. Lee Chun-Shan won the name of the “mentor of Taiwan's modern art”, with many of his students winning international recognition and becoming central figures of Taiwan's art scene. He and one of his pupils Hsiao Chin have been both listed in Modern Art History edited by Spanish art historian J. E. Ciplot.

Lee Chun-Shan has made a long-lasting impact on the development of abstract art in Taiwan; his unorthodox teaching was particularly influential in shaping the character of Taiwan's modern art. Lee's contribution to Taiwan's art history lies not only in his outstanding artistic achievement, but also in his promotion of fresh and cutting-edge perspectives and avant-garde ideas. Lee Chun-Shan's life was filled with much turbulence and hardship, but he graced Taiwan's art scene with a legacy of groundbreaking ideas and transformational educational experiences. He encouraged students to develop genuine art from everyday experience and to bring a sense of time and movement to art objects, and placed great emphasis on the temporality and dynamism on the creative arts. Lee has noted himself, “Creativity is the essence of life and dialectical thinking; art cannot achieve eternity without the foundation of innovative thinking.” Looking back on the life and work of Lee Chun-Shan, we can realize that what he valued and pursued was a free-thinking artistic spirit.

The year of Lee Chun-Shan's birth coincided with the founding of the Republic of China. This exhibition, Lee Chun-Shan Centennial Memorial Exhibition, is staged to celebrate the centenary of Master Lee's birth and to pay tribute to Taiwan's most important pioneer of modern art. Through this exhibition, we hope to introduce to the audience the wonderful work, extraordinary achievements and pioneering spirit of Mr. Lee Chun-Shan.

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