Radiance of Life: Paintings of Chu Ko
The Chinese Culture Center is now presenting an exhibition of thirty
paintings by famous poet, painter, and scholar Chu Ko. The exhibit
runs until August 10 in the South Gallery.
Born Yuan Dexing in Hunan Province, Chu Ko chose his pen name while
he was a young soldier stationed in Taiwan. Coming from what was once
the ancient Kingdom of Chu, the loose translation of "Soldier
from Chu¨ seemed appropriate. He learned Confucian classics as
a youth growing up during a time of war, yet was influenced by western
literature and Taoist books found in the ruins of an abandoned home.
Entering the Nationalist Army, Chu Ko soon found himself a young,
penniless soldier in Taiwan. Every spare moment was spent reading,
and he soon befriended other soldiers with similar interests. Their
circle, representing a new approach to writing and art, often engaged
in literary jousting with Taipei's conservative art world. As a poet
and art critic, the Soldier from Chu published articles in magazines
and newspapers that made him well known in the art world. After leaving
the army in 1966, he lectured at Chinese Culture University - ironically
enough, while attending college night classes to get a degree. In
1968, he withdrew into the National Palace Museum to study ancient
bronzes, and extensively wrote articles on art in vernacular language
so as to bring it closer to the general public.
Despite all his knowledge and writings about the subjects, Chu Ko
tried his own hand at calligraphy and painting relatively late. His
first experimentations with ink painting, silkscreen printing, and
ceramic painting led to deeper exploration, with his first exhibition
taking place in 1969. This exhibition would be the first of many,
as his thematic approaches evolved and re-evolved.
His later works, created after the artist survived a bout with cancer,
exhibit a love of life, with radiant, passionate colors. Chu Ko says
that while his body may have weakened, his spirit emerged from painful
cancer treatments even stronger. While his themes continue to develop,
it is evident that the Soldier from Chu looks at the world through
the eyes of a poet. His works diverge dramatically from traditional
Chinese ink paintings, splashed with vibrant varieties of color. In
the same vein, his calligraphy also takes on its own life; with deliberate
ink drops and bleeding that have earned admiration from the avant-garde
and outrage from the traditionalists. The spontaneity and joy of expression
in his works have placed Chu Ko at the vanguard of the new literati
CHRONOLOGY of CHU KO
||Yuan Te-hsing, a.k.a. Chu Ko, born in the village
of Mi-lo in Hunan Province, China, on March 23.
||In the second year of the Japanese invasion of China,
he began formal education in Chinese characters and calligraphy.
||Began study of Confucian classics, traditional painting
and calligraphy. Later in his youth, writings of modern reformers
and modern poets inspired his curiosity about the outside world.
||Enrolled in Mi-lo High School. Later in the year
Chu Ko together with three friends enlisted in the army.
||During the civil war Chu Ko was first stationed
in southern China and later transferred to Taiwan with the Nationalist
||As a young soldier Chu Ko read and wrote modern
poetry intensively. He served as the chief editor of the army's
||Transferred to an army unit in Taipei. Joined the
Modern Poetry Movement and became involved with literary circles
in the capital. Their lifestyle earned them the nickname "the
Bohemian coffee-house pack."
||Converted to Buddhism.
||Discharged from the army at the rank of sergeant.
Published first poetry collection Unripe Fruit. Enrolled in extension
courses at the National Art College, Taipei.
||Began teaching art and Chinese culture at College
of Chinese Culture.
||Joined the Antiquities Department of the National
Palace Museum, specializing in ancient bronze vessels. Published
a collection of art reviews titled A Visual Life.
||Joint Exhibition with modernist painter Lee Shi-Chi
||Son, A-chi, born.
Solo Exhibition in Taipei.
Participated in a tour of the US in joint exhibitions of contemporary
||Solo Exhibition at Contemporary Art Gallery, Seoul,
||Joint Exhibition of "Contemporary Chinese Painting,"
Ueno Art Gallery, Tokyo, Japan.
||Published The Cultural Monuments of China, a survey
of Chinese art for the general public.
||Solo Exhibition at Printmakers' Gallery, Taipei.
||Diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer. Began cobalt-sixty
radiation treatment in August.
Solo Exhibition, Printmakers' Gallery, Taipei.
||Visiting Lecturer of printmaking at Chinese University
of Hong Kong.
Reunited with his mother in Hong Kong after thirty-four years.
|| Published Strolling Mountains, a collection of
poetry, paintings, and drawings.
Solo Exhibition at Art Center, Hong Kong.
|| Solo Exhibition at Longmen Gallery, Taipei.
Published Firebird Reborn, a collection of essays describing his
fight with cancer.
Taught in Art Department, Tung-hai University, Taichung.
In August Chu Ko was invited to participate in the Writer's Workshop
at University of Iowa. He visited museums and met with art historians
throughout the U.S.
||Published a collection of art reviews titled The
Life of Beauty.
Joint Exhibition, Versailles, France.
The Second Sino-Korean Modern Painting Exchange Exhibition, Seoul,
"Contemporary Chinese Painting Exhibition," Taipei.
"Abstract Ink-Brush Painting Exhibition," Taipei Fine
||Joint Exhibition, "7 Chinese Artists from Taiwan,"
Nederloo Museum, Brussels, Belgium.
Joint Exhibition, National History Museum, Taipei.
The Second Asian International Art Exhibition, Taipei.
Joint Exhibition, Dunhuang Art Gallery, Taipei.
||Represented Taiwan at Olympiad of Art, Seoul, Korea.
The Third Asian International Art Exhibition, Taipei.
"Contemporary Chinese Art Exhibition," Taipei.
Joint Exhibition of "Contemporary Chinese Ink Paintings,"
Paris and San Francisco.
||Solo Exhibition, Jacques Barrere, Art d'Extrême
The Fourth Asian International Art Exhibition, Taipei.
"Homage to Picasso," Taipei Fine Arts Museum.
||"Colors of Life," National Library, Paris.
Conseil Culturel de la Maison des Arts et Loisirs, Sochaux, France.
The Fifth Asian International Art Exhibition, Taipei.
||Joint Exhibition, Pristine Harmony Gallery, Taipei.
"A World of Feelings: A Retrospective Exhibition of the Art
of Chu Ko," Taipei Fine Arts Museum.
||Represented Taiwan at Olympiad of Art, Barcelona,
Exhibition of "Contemporary Ink Paintings of Korea-China"
(exhibition tours in Taiwan and Korea)
||Solo Exhibition, Das Ubersee-Museum, Bremen,Germany.
||Solo Exhibition, Korea.
||Solo Exhibition of "The Ceaselss Line,"
Hong Kong University.
||Solo Exhibition of "Contemplating Structure,"
Taipei Fine Arts Museum.
|| Director, River-East Lion Museum, Taiwan.
||Exhibition of "Chu Ko's Ties of Affection,"
National Museum of History, Taipei.
Solo Exhibition, Art Center, Hong Kong.
Joint Exhibition of "Vision 2000-Chinesische Gemalde und
Skulpturen der Gegenwart," Germany.
The First Puyo International Modern Sculpture Symposium, Korea.
||Joint Exhibition, Shanghai.
Joint Exhibition of "Ink Paintings of Three Asian Artists,"
Salon de June, Paris
||Joint Exhibition of "Six Artists from Taiwan
and China," Shanghai Modern Art Museum and Dr. Sun Yat-sen
||Solo Exhibition, Geneva, Switzerland.