Hung Tung (1920-1987)

Untitled, 1970Throughout its history, Taiwan has endured repeated foreign invasions-from the Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch of the 17th century, to the Japanese occupation beginning in 1895. In the 1970s, the nativism movement of this island spurred a widespread rediscovery of folk and local culture. Researchers found that traditional life was derived not only from the dominant Han culture of the mainland immigrants
but was also infused with the aboriginal cultures of native peoples, with traces of Western and Japanese aesthetics. The search for exceptional vernacular art led to Tainan, on the southern west coast, and eventually to visionary artist Hung Tung.

Orphaned at the age of three, Hung Tung was raised by his uncle and grandfather. In his youth he worked as a shepherd and later as a fisherman. He spent much time at his local Taoist temple:it is said he served as a medium there, and was a shaman. Suddenly, at the age of 50, Hung Tung isolated himself and began
painting passionately, obsessively, to the exclusion of all other work.

Hung Tung deities
Hung Tung's earliest paintings are imbued with a great sense of spontaneity. Simple markings seem to come from his own private revelations, supernatural beings peering out from blotches of paint. As he began his self-training he filled notebooks with images and calligraphy that was not readable but functioned pictorially. Nonetheless, he finished each of these compositions with his seal, just like a traditional Chinese painting. Hung Tung's first painted scrolls were mounted on the back wall of a famous temple.

Hung Tung took the classic scroll of Chinese painting, and turned it into a surface for his relentlessly exuberant expressions of the natural and supernatural world. His style, direct and colorful, favors flat frontal views. Most inventive are his composite forms within forms, where, inside of figures, animals, and planes, is contained a microcosm of spirits and plants.

Click Images to Enlarge

Untitled, c 1970
ink on paper
Collection of Yü Chow, Taipei, Taiwan

Green-faced, Blue-faced, Red-faced, and Yellow-faced Deities
Lü -mien, lan-mien, hung-mien ho huang-mien shen-ming
Oil on paper
Collection of Yü Chow, Taipei

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