Born in 1907 in Taiwan, Chen Houei Kuen (d. 2011) showed great talent and dabbled in painting at a young age, later embarking on a lifelong creative career. Like many Taiwanese painters at the time, he endured a poverty-stricken childhood and survived the Second World War. The first half of his life was a struggle against adversities; because his parents died young, he was raised by his grandmother. After graduating from high school, Chen Houei Kuen pursued his passion for art and went to Japan to study painting. Later, he returned to Taiwan where he became a famous painter. He was also an educator and mentor, cultivating new generations of artistic talent.
Chen Houei Kuen created earnestly throughout his life, relentlessly experimenting with new artistic approaches. He also spent decades practicing different painting techniques and styles including oil, ink, and Nihonga (a Japanese painting style known for using powdered pigments and glue). He produced masterpieces with a unique style.
Chen Houei Kuen mastered oil painting techniques during his studies in Japan. Throughout the 1960s, he went to Europe several times, where he studied Impressionist techniques and created landscapes. From the 1970s onwards, he created many landscape Nihonga paintings. In 1972, he made the ink painting Mount Yu, emulating one of his previous works. Later, he started to make Nihonga paintings characterized by intricate strokes and gorgeous colors; for example, his 1972 painting Main Peak of Mount Yu features a mountain peak covered with overlapping strips of color.
During his stay in Europe in 1973, he realized, “I’ve been trying to create western landscapes with Chinese painting techniques, but without great success. However, the sight of the Mont Blanc foothills in Cambronne amazed me as it was evocative of Chinese landscape painting. Later, I incorporated traditional [Chinese] painting skills into my creations, producing vivid works that put foreigners in awed silence.” us, he started to create landscape paintings of mountains across Europe using Chinese landscape painting techniques.
In 2015, Franz held the " Treasure" exhibition in Palace Hotel Tokyo and the "Pinnacle" vase was introduced to Japanese VIPs.
In 1973, Chen Houei Kuen made Mount Fuji, a work evocative of Chinese ink wash painting with a balanced, Ukiyo-e style composition featuring a vigorous pine tree in the foreground. The focus of the painting is Mount Fuji, depicted with bold, non-naturalistic uses of reds, blues, yellows, and greens. He said, “My landscapes capture the ‘essence’ of nature, not its superficial form.”
Franz’s “Pinnacle” sculptured porcelain vase is a double-bottle piece featuring the two internationally renowned mountains, Japan’s Mount Fuji and Taiwan’s Mount Yu, each side enhancing the other.
The Sea in Golden Light
Learning Taste from a Master of Art