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Liu Chi-hsiang Museum

劉啟祥美術紀念館(劉啟祥故居)

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Liu Chi-hsiang Museum Introduction

Open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday-Sunday, this museum in Liuying was once the home of famed Taiwanese painter Liu Chi-hsiang. Now, the restored mansion houses a retrospective Liu’s life and work.

Liu was born in Liuying in 1910, during the early years of the Japanese occupation of Taiwan. Even as a child, he showed real talent at painting, and his wealthy father sent him to Japan to study when he was just twelve years old. Liu later gained admission to a private art school in Tokyo, where he learned in a free-form style that opened his eyes to the idea of experimentation in painting.

In 1936, Liu went to Paris, where he remained for four years, spending the bulk of his time in the Louvre and other museums learning about impressionism through studying and copying the works of Cezanne, Monet, and Renoir. In 1939, he moved back to Japan, where he remained until the end of World War II.

After the war, Liu made the decision to return to Taiwan. He first came back to his family home in Liuying, but in 1948, he moved to Kaohsiung, where he would eventually become a prime mover in Taiwan’s art scene, responsible for establishing an art studies association, art schools, and galleries.

Visitors to the museum will be impressed both by the exhibits and by the building itself, which was commissioned by Liu Chi-hsiang’s father in 1918. It is right next door to the Liu Family Ancestral Mansion, and in building it, the elder Liu went all out to create an enormous and ornate edifice in the Japanese baroque style that was in favor at the time. Liu Chi-hsiang himself added a studio on the front lawn after his return from Japan. Over the years since, the massive house slowly fell into disrepair, and it was nearly in ruins before the recent restoration that saved it and turned it into a museum.

Now, everyone can enjoy the veranda with its arched colonnade, the terra cotta tile floors, large double wooden staircase, marble mantles, round windows, and sunny porches. The former studio is a café offering pastries and light meals, with both indoor and outdoor seating that invites relaxed contemplation. Visitors can stroll under the trees on the expansive lawn and have a look at the small, fish-shaped fish pond.

This beautiful home forms the backdrop to the story of Liu’s life and his art, which graces the walls of every room in the house. There are still lifes, landscapes, and portraits from different eras that give visitors an idea of how the artist’s style evolved over the years. Visitors can view such masterpieces as Matou Mountain (1955), Still Life in a Box (1989), Father Smiling (1955), Confucius Temple (1965), and the powerful Eldest Daughter (1987). The descriptions and backgrounds of these paintings are written in Chinese, but it is easy to find information about Liu and his work in several different languages just by going online.

Many of Liu’s most famous paintings are on display at major museums in Taiwan and other countries, or have been auctioned to collectors. To see Fish Shop, you’ll have to visit the Taipei Fine Arts Museum; works such as Yellow Dress, Basket of Lychees, and Red Shirt and Black Skirt can be found in the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts. In 2013, his painting Rose was sold at auction to a private collector for over USD $700,000. While these paintings cannot be viewed here, what you do get is context—a much better understanding of the man who painted the pictures and the eventful life he lived. For anyone with an interest in Taiwan’s art scene, this museum should be at the top of your list.  

                                                                                                                                                          

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  No. 81, Sec. 3, Zhongshan W. Rd., Liuying Dist., Tainan City

  台南市柳營區中山西路三段81號

  +886