The Verdant Cliff
Chinese Paintings by Fourteen Celebrated Taiwanese Artists
Foreword by K.Y. Ng
The Verdant Cliff — Chinese Paintings by Fourteen Celebrated Taiwanese Artists is the fourth painting exhibition presented by our shop. A number of special exhibitions featuring works by well-known artists from Mainland China have been presented in Hong Kong in recent years, but this is the first time that a special exhibition is being held here to introduce the best of contemporary Chinese paintings by Taiwanese artists. We have selected fourteen noted Taiwanese artists, all of whom have become well-known there and have gained a reputation abroad. While some were born in Taiwan some have settled there or have been working there at some stage of their careers. Over seventy representative works by them are included. Among these renowned artists, the works of Zheng Shanxi will be shown in Hong Kong for the first time.
As in our previous exhibitions, we are publishing a bilingual fully illustrated catalogue for this exhibition. The catalogue provides full biographical notes on the artists included. The accuracy of the data has been confirmed as follows: the biographical notes regarding Jiang Zhaoshen, Zhou Cheng, Jiang Mingxian, Hu Nianzu, Ou Haonian, Li Yihong, Zheng Shanxi and Chu Ge have been confirmed by the artists themselves, and those on the other artists have been verified by their close friends or associates.
It is surprising that although Taiwan is a small island, it can boast so many talented artists. Among these fourteen celebrated painters, Jiang Mingxian, Zhou Cheng, Li Yihong and Yu Peng were born and brought up in Taiwan , while the others immigrated there from Mainland China . However, regard- less of their origins, it is the prosperous economic and social climate of Taiwan in recent decades that has provided the favourable environment for their artistic talent to take root and flourish. According to recent statistical reports, the gross national income for each Taiwan citizen has increased now to US$8,700 from US$50 when Taiwan first regained its sovereignty from Japan in 1945, while its foreign exchange surplus has reached a level of US$75 billion, second only to Japan. Its foreign trade amounts to US$13 billion, ranking twelfth in the world. For the past five years, the rate of economic growth has remained at 9% (1) . This economic boom has marked considerable increases in national income and has stimulated the development of arts and culture. The past five years have shown significant growth in the Taiwan art market, and as a result numerous art galleries have flourished. In 1980, there were only fifteen major galleries in Taiwan ; in 1985, the number had increased to thirty; by the end of 1990, there were over one hundred. (2)
Such a phenomenon is no co-incidence, two sentences in the chapter quanxuebian (Encouragement to Study — Advice for Scholars) seem particularly apposite. In the book Xunzi says, "If a mountain yields jade, vegetation will flourish; if the sea breeds pearls, the cliff will remain verdant." Talented people bring prosperity to a place and encourage its art and culture — like jade in a mountain nourishing the forest, while pearls in the sea contribute luxuriant growth to a cliff. Our aim is to reveal this 'spirit of the verdant cliff in this special exhibition. Lastly, I would like to express my sincere thanks to the valuable assistance of the participating artists and various friends in Taiwan . My gratitude is also due to Mr. Shi Shouqian, the Director of the Institute of Art History of the National Taiwan University , who has written the introduction, Mr. K. S. Wong, for the beautiful calligraphic rendering of our title and Mr. Li Kiu-fong and Dr. K. K. Wong, who have provided the biographical information for Huang Junbi.