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Unearthing Light: Hung Jui-Lin

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Post date:2022-07-11

Updates:2022-07-11

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Unearthing Light: Hung Jui-Lin
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No.181, Sec. 3, Zhongshan N. Rd., Zhongshan Dist., Taipei City Taiwan, R.O.C
In the year of Hung Jui-Lin’s 110th anniversary, the masterpieces of the artist recur to the glow of laborer lives.

Hung Jui-Lin (1912-1996), often known as “the mining painter,” has long held an important place in the history of Taiwanese art, with works that stand as iconic symbols of the lives of laborers.

As a child, Hung Jui-Lin studied at Daojiang Private Charity School (Daojiang Gijuku), founded by Inagaki Tobei of Japan, and was inspired by humanitarianism very early in life. He also came to admire the Western painters Jean-François Millet and Vincent van Gogh, both of whom felt concern for farmers and the poor. While living in Japan, he was influenced by the outsider spirit of independent art groups, such as the Shunyo-Kai Art Society, which he expressed in a series of landscape paintings of the slum of Japan. Hung Jui-Lin's well-known Market at Yamagata, presented poignant images of “laborers in the bleak winter.”

Returning to Taiwan, Hung accepted a job managing the Ruifang No.2 Mine (later became the Huaishan Coal Mine), to support his family and also to repay the artist Ni Chiang-Huai for funding his education in Japan. In Ruifang, he made numerous sketches of miners. Covered in sweat and coal dust, he captured the beauty of his coworkers’ physical labor with dynamic brushstrokes, outlining the true light of humanity in mines where “the sun never shines.”

Many years of life in the subterranean darkness gave Hung Jui-Lin a particularly powerful longing for the dazzling sunlight. In his later years, he and his eldest son Chin C. Houng settled in a small seaside town in California, making the year-round sunshine his constant companion, as he had always wished. After he bid the shadowy mines farewell, bright skies and clouds became the subject of the final stage of his career.

This exhibition centers on the family collection donated to Taipei Fine Arts Museum by Chin C. Houng in 2020, supplemented by other works from private collectors. Many of the artworks have not been glimpsed by Taiwanese viewers for over 35 years. The exhibition also features several rare works in Hung Jui-Lin’s oeuvres, such as large-scale oil paintings depicting entire scenes of mines, rare sketches of Japan, and important portraits of family members.

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