Returning Home: A Painting Journey
Through meticulously crafted lines, Taiwanese artist Chung Shun-Wen immortalizes her family and her most cherished childhood memories
Reminiscing about where we grew up often conjures a rich tapestry of familiar faces, scenes, scents, and anecdotes that effortlessly create beautiful soundtracks for our lives. These memories are often filled with deep emotions that are both profoundly joyous and intensely sorrowful.
According to Taiwanese painter Chung Shun-Wen, her hometown, Meinong, resides just beneath the strokes of her paintbrush. Located at the base of Li Mountain in southern Taiwan, Meinong boasts a rich Hakka culture. Both her grandfather, Chung Li-Ho, and father, Chung Tie-Min, achieved acclaim as writers, exposing the young girl to culture, literature, and the arts as she grew up.
Instead of following in the footsteps of her grandfather and father, however, Chung chose to channel her creative energies into the visual arts, specifically mineral pigment painting—a traditional technique with deep roots in Taiwan.
The pigments Chung uses in her art, composed of finely ground stones and animal glue, infuse her work with exquisite detail and elegant aesthetics. Her appreciation and zest for life seep into every brushstroke, and her canvases serve as vessels for her cherished memories, encapsulating the beauty that has graced her life.
In East Asian culture, the desire to return to one’s fundamental essence is the most noble and ultimate pursuit—the highest state of life that Taoists wish to attain. This quest is akin to shedding artifice, complexity, and ostentation to ultimately arrive at the pure, essential core that encapsulates one’s true nature.
This same simplicity permeates Chung’s paintings—her colour palette consists of warm, earthy tones, seemingly drawn directly from the land where she grew up. Her subjects often appear unremarkable and indiscriminate at first glance. They’re figures seen from behind, cats lounging, monkeys frolicking in the forest, flowers and plants adorning a courtyard—nonetheless, they possess an enchanting power that draws viewers into their world. Ultimately, this almost magnetic draw is a testament to Chung’s artistic genius and the dedication to her subjects.