This year is the 110th birthday of the deceased Taiwanese senior sculptor, Pu Tian-sheng. “Tracing the Roots through Sculpture—PU TIAN-SHENG 110th Birthday Memorial Exhibition,” organized by National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, Ministry of Culture, will be held at Chungshan National Gallery from today to October 19. The opening ceremony was held today (September 5). The exhibition completely presents the master’s classic works in his career and reproduces the long history left by the Taiwanese senior artist. At the same time, the exhibition also arranges the touch area to promote cultural equality and pass on the spirit of great love, which also enriches and diversifies the visitors’ experience.
Pu Tian-sheng (1912-1996) is a representative sculptor in Taiwan. He followed Asakura Fumio, “Rodin in Japan,” and returned to Taiwan to engage in the creation of sculpture art after completing his learning. As the pioneer of western classical sculpture, he never stopped creation in his life. National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall invited the family of the master to plan and hold the memorial exhibition together to completely exhibit Pu’s representative works of sculpture in the different stages. “Ms. Lin Jin-Juan Memorial Statue,” 3.7 meters tall, exhibited at the outdoor corridor of the hall, is a large statue created by the master when he was sick, symbolizing his persistence in creation throughout his life. The exhibition also “traces the roots” of the history of fine arts, retelling the historical context the Taiwanese senior artists have left and showing the expectation for the future development of fine arts.
In his speech, Minister of Culture, Lee Yung-te, specially expressed the blessings and gratitude to the memorial exhibition on behalf of Premier Su Tseng-chang. Minister Lee said Pu’s sculpture records many political and commercial celebrities and community leaders in the different times. From these figures’ looks, physiques and spirit recorded in these works, the public can see the traces of the development in Taiwan. His works are the important cultural assets in Taiwan. Minister Lee also expressed his admiration for the generous proposition of the family members of Pu Tian-sheng that they would like to completely donate the memorial museum and works to the government to become the public goods. The government will take the responsibility and discuss with the family members together so that these assets will be preserved, studied, and exhibited in the best way. At the same time, Ministry of Culture will also keep implementing President Tsai’s policy of “Reconstructing Taiwanese Art History” and expect to pass on the models of Taiwanese senior artists forever.
Director-general of National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, Wang Lan-sheng, mentioned the strange connection between Mr. Pu and the hall, from the nude sculpture rejected by the hall in 1982, the exhibition in 2016, to the memorial exhibition opening today. The works of the artist witness the overall development of art views in Taiwan. The exhibition presents the aesthetics of not only Pu’s sculpture but also his painting works and the connections among the senior artists from the angle of Taiwanese art history. The design of the exhibition room reproduces the artist’s life scenes and presents the deep affection between the four generations of the Pu family. The touch area, under the guidance of epidemic prevention, provides the viewers with gloves to appreciate the works through touch.
Many distinguished guests were invited to today’s opening ceremony. Legislator Su Chiao-Hui praised Mr. Pu for being the asset of Taiwan. She said the exhibition presents not only the artistic achievement of Pu Tian-sheng but also the Pu family’s endeavor in promotion. As a legislator, she will keep supporting the policy direction of reconstructing Taiwanese art history in the future. Liao Hsin-Tien, Director-general of National Museum of History, was invited to write the commentary for the exhibition. He specially wrote about the work “Wife,” which was made for Pu’s wife in Japan. The 24-cm bust statue is full of the stories of Taiwanese art history. The artistic achievement of Pu Tian-sheng has also become an entry in Dictionary of Taiwanese Art History 1.0.
In the speech of gratitude, the exhibition curator as well as Director of P.T.S Sculpture Memorial Museum, Pu Hao-zhi, recalled his father’s completion of “Ms. Lin Jin-Juan Memorial Statue” in sickness. As the work was gradually completed day by day, his father’s life elapsed day by day. Despite the sadness in mind, he witnessed his father’s creative belief, “I have devoted my life to sculpture, and sculpture also brings life to me.” “When my creation stops, it’s the end of my life.”
There are 94 sculpture works exhibited this time, including the representative work of the early period in 1947, “Poet,” the representative work of the middle period selected in the first Japan Fine Arts Exhibition in 1958, “Light of Spring,” the representative work of the late period capturing the power and beauty of the TV broadcast of women’s gymnastics in Seoul Olympics in 1988, “Sports Series,” and the work perfectly interpreting the pursuit for the ideal beauty of human bodies in 1981, “Three Graces.” Besides, dozens of the gentle and lively figure busts in “Family Series” are the expression of Pu’s deep affection for his family. “Bust Series” including many political and commercial celebrities and community leaders also provides another way to read the contemporary history of Taiwan. The series including Dr. Sun Yat-sen and his first son, Mr. Sun Ke, has the special historical meaning.
After completing the learning in Japan, many of the Taiwanese artists in the same period of Pu Tian-sheng chose to return to Taiwan to contribute to the society. They are esteemed as “senior Taiwanese artists.” The exhibition also arranges the exhibition area of “Chronological Chart of Senior Taiwanese Artists,” starting from the Japanese-ruling period in 1895, when the two great artists, Huang Tu-shui and Chen Cheng-po, were born to reproduce the importance of the senior artists and the Taiwanese art history unfolding ceaselessly to date.
Pu Tian-sheng’s family preserves the master’s residence and studio during his lifetime and establishes “P.T.S Sculpture Memorial Museum,” which is open to the public for free for education promotion. It is also the first sculpture memorial museum in Taiwan, where the visitors can touch the works. In recent years, it has had the close cooperation with the schools for the visually impaired and offered the visual art classes. The exhibition also arranges a simulated area of the artist’s residence and expands the touch area for the visually impaired to promote cultural equality, show concern for the disadvantaged, revitalize the old residence, and pass on the meaning of great love. There are twenty works of the different topics carefully selected for the “touch area,” such as “Rabbit,” “Confucius,” and “Beethoven Bust.” During the pandemic prevention, the exhibition provides the disposable gloves for the visitors for free so that the beauty of sculpture can be experienced through touch. The cell phone audio guides also make the visit a more abundant and interesting experience.
“Tracing the Roots through Sculpture—PU TIAN-SHENG 110th Birthday Memorial Exhibition” also plans five speeches. Honorary Professor Xiao Qiong-rui of Department of History, National Cheng Kung University, will give the first speech on September 5, “Great Master in the Long River of History—A Maker of Historic Images, Pu Tian-sheng.” Other speakers include Associate Professor Shih Hui-mei of The Graduate School of Arts and Humanities Instruction, National Taiwan University of Arts, Postdoctoral Scholar Eka Suzuki of Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, Chair Pai Shih-ming of Department of Fine Arts, National Taiwan Normal University, and the scholar of Taiwanese art history, Li Chin-hsien. One of the speeches will be given by the sculptor, Pu Hao-ming, who inherits his father’s skills, and the exhibition curator, Pu Hao-zhi. They will have a conversation about “Deconstructing Pu Tian-sheng.” Welcome to register for the speeches. For more information, please visit the website of National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall www.yatsen.gov.tw, or call the service counter, (02) 27588008, ext. 545, 546.