Newly restored paintings by Sanyu (常玉), a late painter best known for painting Parisian nudes with calligraphy brushes, will be unveiled at the National Museum of History’s latest exhibition running from March 11 through July 2 in Taipei.
Sanyu (1900 – 1966) was known as “Henri Matisse of the Orient.” Although he spent most of his life in Paris, he never received formal training in the arts. The simple yet unique style of painting he developed at Académie de la Grande Chaumière was a genuine feat of originality.
Although Sanyu’s painting style is derived from his background in traditional Chinese ink painting, his depictions of auspicious subjects such as the lotus, bamboo, and chrysanthemum – respectively the symbol of purity, promotion, and retirement – are festive combinations of eastern and western aesthetics.
Moreover, whereas the lines in his paintings can be traced back to the fluency of calligraphy strokes, Sanyu’s personal growth aided by the laissez-faire culture of the Montparnasse region is expressed through a lively vivaciousness that drastically differs from the aloofness of Chinese literati paintings.
Sanyu began to prepare for a solo exhibition at the National Museum of History in 1964, but was delayed by visa troubles and personal issues. He passed away in Paris in 1966 due to an unfortunate gas leak.
Of the 52 Sanyu items in the NMH’s collection, 42 were oil paintings bestowed by the Ministry of Education in 1968, five were oil paintings confiscated in the Kuo Yu-shou (郭有守) espionage case in 1986, two were additional oil paintings procured in 1990, and three were sketches purchased in 2011.
Among these items, “Four Nudes (四裸女)” and “Chrysanthemum (菊)” have been declared “significant antiquities” of the nation by the Ministry of Culture. They were carefully restored as part of the NMH’s scientific examination, restoration, and frame-mounting operations on 49 Sanyu paintings last year.
“Parisian Nostalgia: The National Museum of History’s Sanyu Collection” will be offered in three sections – nudes, still life, and nature. The exhibition will be accompanied by documentary screenings of the NMH’s restoration project.
‘Parisian Nostalgia: The National Museum of History’s Sanyu Collection’
- Date: March 11 – July 2, 2017
- Venue: National Museum of History
- Address: No. 49 Nanhai Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei, Taiwan (ROC)
- Site: www.nmh.gov.tw