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1932, 畫布油彩, 90.5×116cm

circa 1932, oil on canvas






    A mother and daughter stroll hand in hand down a winding mountain path, but will soon disappear around a bend. Just ahead, an older man carrying a shoulder pole walks towards them with slow, measured steps. In the distance, parallel rows of crops and footpaths trace tidy lines up a broad hillside dotted with laborers at work. This painting evokes such a rosy pastoral serenity that you can almost imagine yourself walking down the path and enjoying the gentle breeze stirring in the treetops.











    After the Meiji Restoration of 1868, Japanese women were often seen carrying parasols, one of several newly imported and fashionable goods. In modern art collections around the world, images of women with parasols have carried distinctly different connotations depending upon the context in which they were created. In Chen Cheng-po’s Taiwanese landscapes, these figures seem to draw attention to the sweltering heat which characterizes the local climate.





Shoulder pole and bamboo hat—the uniform of a laborer



    挑著扁擔、頂著斗笠的勞動者身影,在陳澄波的鄉土題材作品當中隨處可見。如此裝束的「庄跤人」(tsng-kha lâng),是彼時臺灣社會最常見的小人物。他們似乎承載著陳澄波的某種情懷,隨著他的油彩揮灑,踏遍畫裡的每一寸土地。


    The iconic figure of the laborer, carrying a shoulder pole and wearing a conical bamboo hat, appears in almost all of Chen’s paintings of rural life. In the early 20th century, the humble laborer dressed in rustic garb was the most visible working-class figure in Taiwanese society. This figure obviously captured the imagination of Chen, who portrayed him with lively brushstrokes, walking across every inch of the island’s terrain.


    笠をかぶり天秤棒を担いだ労働者は、陳澄波が描いた田舎の風景にしばしば登場します。このような身なりの人を「庄跤人」(tsng-kha lâng)と言い、当時の台湾社会で日常的に見かける一庶民でした。この庄跤人たちは、陳澄波のある種の心情を象徴するかの如く、画家がふるう絵筆に合わせて、絵の中の土地をくまなく歩き回りました。



Winding paths





    The composition of this work may seem familiar because Chen used similar designs in several other landscapes. In the foreground, a winding road guides the viewer’s gaze into the painting before disappearing behind a curve. This composition also adds an element of mystery, leaving viewers to wonder where the path must lead beyond the red brick wall.





Back from a full catch, oil on canvas, 72.5 x 90.5 cm, 1936.




Drainage ditches





    The long ditch curving alongside the mountain road is possibly a drainage canal dug in response to demands for modern sanitation. The first drainage systems in Taiwan were built early in the Japanese era by the colonial government, which enacted laws requiring the construction of sewers. Though often inconspicuous, sewers significantly raised environmental sanitation standards and represented an important step forward along Taiwan’s path to modernization.





Location and date





    The manner by which Chen worked out the composition for Countryside is clearly illustrated in one of his surviving pencil sketches. Although he did not date the final painting, he did make a notation on the sketch. Based on this information, we know that he painted this landscape from atop a mountain slope in Chiayi’s outskirts and that it was completed sometime after July 1932.




嘉義(1)-SB09:32.7.8  1932   紙本鉛筆   12×18.2cm

 Chiayi (1)-SB09: 32.7.8   1932    Pencil on paper   12×18.2cm

嘉義(1)-SB09:32.7.8  1932  紙、鉛筆 12×18.2cm



An old photograph





    An old photograph entitled “Celebration in Honor of Chen Cheng-po” shows the artist surrounded by a group of his fellow countrymen. On the back wall hang two commemorative horizontal tablets given by Dr. Huang Jia-lie, a physician from Chiayi, while high above in the center hangs the painting Countryside. Even though this photo serves as a lasting memento of the event, the precise reason for this celebration remains a mystery.






Celebration in Honor of Chen Cheng-po (pictured second row, fifth from the left)