From May 4 through July 1, the first floor of the National Museum of History will play host to "By the Passing of a Thousand Sails: The Paintings of Wang Pan-Youn." Through this exhibition, which can be visited free of charge, the museum aims not only to celebrate and commemorate the life and works of master painter Wang Pan-youn (王攀元), but also to bid the public an elegant farewell as it closes for renovations over the next three years.
The Jiangsu-born painter came to Taiwan in 1949 and settled down on the beautiful Lanyang Plain in Yilan. Over a lifetime of painting in Taiwan, Wang developed his own distinct style characterized by simplicity and a sense of loneliness. He passed away in 2017 at the age of 109.
At the May 4 opening ceremony at the National Museum of History, Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun gave a speech expressing her admiration for Wang's unique aesthetics and his artistic spirit, which still lives on through his painting legacy today.
In life, Wang was like a seed that was blown free and drifted across to Taiwan, only to finally land and set down deep roots on the Lanyang Plain, noted the Minister. He remains the pride not only of Yilan, but also of Taiwan, she added.
Over the years, Wang trained a number of outstanding artists and spared no effort in promoting the arts. When he was honored at the 5th National Awards of Art, the judges explained their reasoning thus: "[Wang is] an introspective artist who has persisted through difficulties in pursuit of excellence and dedicated his life to painting."
Their statement also noted that, "In an era of bustle and noise, he has always looked inward, interpreting simple themes with exquisite, profound emotion and a unique, refined style distinct to Taiwan’s particular place and time."
As a young man, Wang experienced hardships and displacement, and he incorporated such personal tragedies into his art, expressing profound worlds of meaning through minimalist symbols.
His use of color was elegant and simple, his composition straightforward yet wondrous. Wang's paintings are at the same time austere and evocative, creating a canvas of introspection. The emotional directness yet sense of poetry enable the unostentatious elements of his paintings to communicate deeply moving stories.
"By the Passing of a Thousand Sails" will be the National Museum of History's final major exhibition before renovations begin in the end of July. The museum will reopen with its facilities upgraded and renewed, ready to serve the public, in 2021.
‘By the Passing of a Thousand Sails’