【RTI】Stories Behind the Art (12)Lee Mei-shu (1902-1983)Lee Mei-shu was born in 1902 in what is now Sanxia District in New Taipei City. He was schooled locally and attended Taihoku Normal School (now National Taiwan University of Education). In 1929 he went to Japan to study at the Division of Western Painting at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts, returning to Taiwan in 1934. Lee was very active in public life. From 1945 he was the chair of Sanxia Street and from 1947 he was head of the reconstruction committee for the Qingshui Zushi Temple in Sanxia. In 1950 he became a council for Taipei County. In 1964 he was made director of National Taiwan University of Arts and in 1967 he established the university’s department of sculpture. In the 1970s he held positions at Chinese Culture University and National Taiwan Normal University. He died in 1983.
【RTI】Stories Behind the Art (11)Lee Mei-shu大家好
Today we’re looking at Li Mei-shu’s work “The Boy Chasing the Turkeys,” created in around 1937.
At present, of Li Mei-shu’s oil paintings in our collection at the Li Mei-shu Memorial Gallery,
this one is the largest.
它的尺寸是227 x 182公分
Its dimensions are 227cm by 182 cm
and it is work number 150.
The model for the boy on the left of the painting was Li Mei-shu’s elder son,
The model for the girl in the lower right corner was Li’s second daughter Li Li-yueh.
the main personage
is the mother standing in the center of the painting,
the model for whom was Li Mei-shu’s wife.
The subject of “The Boy Chasing the Turkeys” is humorous.
It’s a parent-child scene.
More or less any child above fifth or sixth grade has this kind of memory or experience from the countryside.
Seeing the turkeys
clucking away, and wanting to tease them.
The mother, kindly, showing concern,
the elder sister sitting leisurely to the side
as the little brother is teasing the turkeys
produces a contrast.
The mother with the basket seems to want to feed the turkeys
or makes a motion to take care of the child,
the feeling is very vivid.
The style of the painting
is a bit like the post-impressionist Paul Gauguin,
an emphasis on expression with blocks of color.
We’ll take a moment to focus on
the technique of how the mother’s right foot is painted.
When we give tours of the gallery,
many visitors say, how is it that if we go to the right, to the middle, or to the left,
the point of the foot always seems to follow us.
Likewise the boy’s left hand
has the same feeling about it.
Today we’ll reveal this secret to everybody.
It’s similar to how moonlight seems to follow us on the road.
The moonlight is very far from us,
but wherever we go
it seems like the moonlight goes with us.
For the mother in “The Boy Chasing the Turkeys,”
her right foot points directly to the person viewing the painting.
This kind of effect is produced by an artistic technique
This foreshortening means the object, or the viewer’s eyes
are directly in front or slightly to the side.
In the painting
everyone can see where the mother’s right foot and the child’s left hand
are shown compressed in a short visual depth.
So what is depicted
naturally will have this movement.
This kind of 2D painting takes on a 3D dynamic.
This is something very special in the composition.
We can also point out
two major characteristics of this Li Mei-shu work.
One, as we have said,
it tends towards the post-impressionist style emphasizing facets,
producing a relatively bold feel,
including the persons, the trees on the left, the far scenery and the mountains.
The second thing to bring out is
the whole composition’s atmosphere displays variety.
Even the turkeys on the left have variety,
adding to the vividness of the scene.
Because of this,
we can say “The Boy Chasing the Turkeys”
is an excellent parent-child scene by Li Mei-shu from the Japanese colonial era.
【RTI】Stories Behind the Art (9)Lee Mei-shu
【RTI】Stories Behind the Art (8) Lu Tieh-chou～BackyardLu Tieh-chou was born in 1899 in the Daxi district of Taoyuan city. After graduating from Daxi Public School in 1913, he went on to enroll at the Taiwan Governor General Office Industrial Institute but took a leave of absence after two years. In 1920, he served as a member of the council in charge of Daxi Street affairs. In 1923, Lu moved to Dadaocheng and opened an embroidery shop. He went to Kyoto, Japan in 1928 to further his artistic studies before returning to Taiwan two years later. Lu died in 1942.
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