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Accumulated Snow on Jade Mountain


 1947, 木板油彩, 23.5×33cm

oil on wood





    Patches of burnt copper earth, foothills cloaked in lush green foliage, high mountaintops etched with white jade, and a foreboding, deep-blue sky—these elements compose an ode to the natural world. Each layer of thick paint adds to the profound grandeur of forest and mountain, earth and sky.






    Swift, vigorous brushstrokes coat the canvas in mercurial colors. This painting does not recite a long, drawn-out tale, but rather a succinct, pithy poem whose verses exalt the splendor of Mount Jade. In the radiant white pinnacle rising into the heavens, we can almost visualize the very soul of this island.






His last painting




    On March 25, 1947, Chen Cheng-po was killed in a government massacre. He had only just recently completed Accumulated Snow on Jade Mountain and had given the painting to his close friend Ke Lin, who died on the same day. When Chen’s wife Chang Jie realized that the painting had been his last, she asked the bereaved family of Ke Lin if she could have it back. In exchange, she gave the family another painting and took this one home for safe keeping.





Chen Cheng-po and Mount Jade





    As an outdoors enthusiast, Chen enjoyed roaming the streets and outskirts of Chiayi to search for new angles from which to admire the view of Mount Jade. Throughout his artistic career, he completed many landscape paintings featuring the mountain, but this small oil-on-wood painting is perhaps the most representative, expressing the strong attachment Chen felt towards the mountains and forests of Taiwan.





The snow on Jade Mountain





    Over three hundred years ago, Qing dynasty writer and editor of the Gazetteer of Zhuluo County, Chen Meng-Lin, wrote of how impressed he was by the sight of Jade Mountain as he observed it from Chiayi one winter’s day. In his essay “On Gazing at Jade Mountain,” he likened the snowy mountaintops to cascading waterfalls suspended in mid-air and to a length of silk spread open across the sky. What does the snow blanketing Jade Mountain resemble to you?





A scenic destination





    Once Japan took control of Taiwan, Mount Jade, at an elevation of 3,952 meters, became the empire’s “New Tallest Peak” and the colony’s most representative landscape. In the early 20th century, hiking began to attract a wider range of devotees and industry began to exploit the timber found in Taiwan’s mountain regions. These trends, accompanied by an increase in literary and artistic references, put Jade Mountain on the map as a symbol of Taiwan’s natural beauty.





Dawu mountain range





    The green mountains in the midground are the first row of foothills that come into view when approaching Jade Mountain from Chiayi. The mountain in the painting’s center is called Jiuzhou Ridge, while the peak to its right is named Wuxinshi Mountain. Documents dating back to the Qing Dynasty identified these mountains as the main peaks of Zhuluo (Chiayi) County and referred to them collectively as the Dawu Range. Rising above these lower peaks, the colossal Jade Mountain was singled out as the “barrier screen” which protected the entire mountain range.





Vantage point





    The two peaks of the Dawu Range align perfectly with the two peaks, main and southern, of Jade Mountain in the background. This view can only be seen when looking eastward from Chiayi’s Zhongshan Road, from a point east of its intersection with Wufeng North Road. In other words, Chen must have walked, painter’s kit in tow, to a spot northeast of his home and near City Hall to paint this view of the mountain.