Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) of the Executive Yuan conferred the National Cultural Award to artist-writer Hsieh Li-fa (謝里法) and filmmaker-scriptwriter Wu Nien-jen (吳念真) at a ceremony held in Taipei on April 26.
Culture Minister Cheng Li-chiun explained that candidates of the National Cultural Award are proposed by representatives of different cultural sectors. As Hsieh and Wu are both prolific artists who have been promoting Taiwan culture and creating works for decades, the award is an act of appreciation for their significant achievements and contributions.
Premier Lai added that recipients of the National Cultural Award all share three features – special contribution to a specific field, presentation and promotion of Taiwanese cultural characteristics, and unwavering care for the land of Taiwan.
Hsieh, an acclaimed painter, is also a writer who introduced western aesthetics and art theories to Taiwan. He also published books about Taiwanese art history, including "History of the Taiwan Art Movement in the Japanese Colonial Era (日據時代臺灣美術運動史)" and "Taiwan Artists (台灣出土人物誌)," which revived the importance of artists such as Chen Cheng-po (陳澄波) and Jiang Wen-ye (江文也).
Hsieh’s novel "The Purple Dadaocheng (紫色大稻埕)" has also been adapted as a TV drama. The story reimagining the lives of iconic Taiwanese artists and literati is credited with helping to introduce early Taiwan culture and art to the modern public. Hsieh is thus praised the "Pioneer of Taiwan Art History."
Wu, who is praised as Taiwan's best storyteller, mainly writes about life as a member of Taiwan's middle and lower class. In collaboration with screenwriter Hsiao Yeh (小野), Wu also played a key role in Taiwan's New Wave Cinema movement of the 1980s.
Taking inspiration from his own life experience, Wu wrote and directed "A Borrowed Life (多桑)," which went on to win several accolades at domestic and international film festivals. In recent years, Wu joined the Greenray Theater Company to produce the highly acclaimed "Conditions of World (人間條件)" musical. He has also continued promoting education and culture in rural areas.
Premier Lai thanked Hsieh for introducing western art theories to Taiwan through his written works, and Wu for producing the "Conditions of World" tour across Taiwan.
Hsieh stated that he once established the "Paris Prize" with painters Liao Shiou-ping (廖修平) and T.F. Chen (陳錦芳). He then vowed to use the cash prize from the National Cultural Award to establish a "Novel Prize" to encourage young people to write novels about Taiwan art history.
Wu revealed that he too read art critiques by Hsieh and learned about western art through Hsieh's works when he was young. Wu sees the National Cultural Award as a gesture of encouragement, and hopes to soon finish the new script he has been working on.
Launched in 1981, the National Cultural Award is the nation's top award that recognizes outstanding individuals who have made great contributions to Taiwan culture. So far, 81 people have been given the award.
Convened by Minister Cheng, the judge committee of the 37th session of the National Cultural Award comprised of twelve writers, cultural professionals, and artists, including Wang Shau-di (王小棣), Wu Mali (吳瑪悧), Lee Chien-lang (李乾朗), and Li Kuei-hsien (李魁賢).