11 September, 2008

Woodblock Taiwan


Indelibly Marked: Woodblock Prints in Taiwan(1945-2005)
Indelibly Marked: Woodblock Prints in Taiwan(1945-2005)
2008.08.02 ~ 2008.10.12

Woodblock printing is the earliest form of print arts. In its earliest days, woodblock printing was used by both Eastern and Western cultures primarily to deliver religious materials, before it was used to print illustrations on books. As time progressed, woodblock printing developed a growing diversity of expression and content. In the early twentieth century, woodblock printing gained sufficient artistic autonomy for it to part from the traditional realm of applied arts and establish itself as an independent art form.

Woodblock printing is characterized by its simple and unsophisticated qualities. In the early days of its technical development, woodblock printing was most commonly characterized by simple black-and-white lines produced through either intaglio or letterpress printing. Techniques of colored prints were later applied to create a more artistic look. Handy and mass-producible, woodblock prints serve as a useful vehicle for communication and an art form most relevant to our everyday life.

Traditional woodblock printing was first brought to Taiwan by Chinese settlers during the late Ming Dynasty. Thanks to its demotic and practical characteristics, the so-called "folk woodblock prints", widely used in daily life as a means of communication, adornment, or distributing religious materials, gained widespread popularity in the Qing Dynasty.

Soon after the end of World War II, woodblock printing began to be widely practiced by artists but mostly for propaganda creation or promoting social movements. In the 1950s and 1960s, modernism exerted much influence on Taiwan's woodblock printing, prompting the founding of The Modern Print Association in 1958 - a moment which can be seen to mark a new era for Taiwan's woodblock printing, as woodblock printing was then gradually liberated from the practical purpose of creating illustrations and propaganda materials, and began to gain artistic autonomy.

Under the influence of the Nativist Movement in the 1970s, works of woodblock printing often served as a pictorial record of the experience of life in the process of social transformation, vividly portraying Taiwan's natural wonders and cultural scenes, as well as the lived daily experience.

The 1980s saw a rich diversity in woodblock printing, as some of the younger-generation artists brought new ideas into woodblock printing, and some artists endeavored to redefine cultural codes from a local perspective.

Since 1983, the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Executive Yuan, R. O. C. has organized and held 12 rounds of International Biennial Print Exhibition. The Biennial is often organized in conjunction with a special-themed exhibition. In 2004, the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts took over the organization of the Biennial, and has since held the exhibition in conjunction with Centennial Exhibition of Famous Prints in 2004, and A Boom in British Printmaking, 1961-1972 in 2006.

The NTMFA is honored to present this year's The 13th International Biennial Print Exhibition in conjunction with Indelibly Marked: Woodblock Printing in Taiwan (1945-2005). In so doing, we hope to examine, from the perspectives of sociology and cultural history, the growth and development of Taiwan's woodblock printing in the six decades following the end of WWII. The exhibition, which features a total of 96 pieces of woodblock printing, will be presented in seven thematic sections: 1.) humanitarian concerns and social criticism; 2.) the pursuit for fighting spirits; 3.) exploration of technical options and experimental approaches; 4.) the growth of abstract styles; 5.) art that develops from the deep love for the land; 6.) sophisticated realism; and 7.) the celebration of diversity and exploration of contemporary issues. We hope that such arrangements can give the viewers a comprehensive understanding of the artistic characteristics of Taiwanese woodblock printing during the period concerned.

Since our founding period in 1986, the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts has been collecting works of print arts. Under the provision of our annual art-collection development plan, our collection of works of print arts have grown into a comprehensive system that represents the development of Taiwanese woodblock printing in the post-WWII era. In a spirit to introduce to our viewers the development of Taiwanese art, the NTMFA presents this exhibition, Indelibly Marked: Woodblock Printing in Taiwan, which is informed by the research of Mr. Chen Shu-Sheng, and features a total of 96 pieces of works by 30 Taiwanese artists. This exhibition represents a rich part of Taiwanese art history. In the future, the NTMFA will continue to stage exhibitions on artworks that employ other media. We welcome your continued interest.

“The 13th International Biennial Print Exhibition, R.O.C.” Guidelines for Submitted Works

Address: 2,SEC. 1, WU CHUAN W. RD.,
Tel: 886(04)2372-3552 / Fax: 886(04)2372-1195

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