Born on February 2nd, 1895 in Chiayi, Chen Cheng Po was a major figure in the development of Taiwanese modern art. However, his tragic death may be what he is most remembered for today.
Growing up under Japanese rule, Chen left Taiwan in 1924 to study at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts. Two years later, his painting Street of Chiayi was displayed at the Imperial Art Exhibition in Tokyo. Chen was the first Taiwanese artist to have his work shown at this prestigious exhibition.
Chen's work combines traditional Taiwanese elements with the modern foreign painting styles he saw in his many travels. Several of his pieces have sold for high prices at auction in recent years.
In addition to drawing and painting, Chen wanted to advance artistic education in Taiwan, and was a professor himself.
During the 228 uprising in 1947, Chen was sent to negotiate a peace agreement between Chiayi citizens and Kuomintang troops. Tragically, he was shot dead, aged only 52.
In 2014, an exhibition marking Chen's 120th birthday toured Taiwan, China, and Japan. Nearly 500 of the painter's works and personal items were on display for a new generation to discover. It was an overdue celebration of this important artist and teacher whose life and death reflect the history of modern Taiwan.