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beautiful paintings

Immortalizing Childhood Memories within Countless Lines

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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 countless lines 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.

In Chung’s painting Naughty Monkey, the lively and mischievous monkey seems to have suddenly become calm. Its facial fur appears to be rustled by the wind, while its mouth is slightly open, perhaps out of surprise or delight.

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 mineral stones and animal glue, infuse her work with exquisite detail and elegant aesthetics. Her appreciation and zest for life seep into every line meticulously crafted, and her canvases serve as vessels for her cherished memories, encapsulating the beauty that has graced her life.

Chung Shun-Wen’s painting Cat In My Yard. The cat in the painting, with its amber-like eyes, appears to be gazing at someone beyond the canvas. Its lifelike soft fur and beautiful patterns, reminiscent of traditional Chinese fine brushwork techniques, are delicate, flowing, and layered.

There is a simplicity permeating 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. Cats lounge, monkeys frolick in the forest, flowers and plants adorn a courtyard—nonetheless, they all possess an enchanting power that draws viewers into their world. Ultimately, this  magnetic draw is a testament to Chung’s artistic genius and the dedication to her subjects.

Chung’s beautiful paintings exude an authenticity that captures life’s essence. Instead of painting conventional family portraits, she immortalizes her elders from behind in their moments of rest. As the youngest daughter in the family, she received a lot of affection from them, which she keenly reciprocated. Among these gestures of appreciation, she would give her father massages upon returning home from her studies or work to relieve his back pain, and this became a ritual. With time, however, the physical appearances of Chung’s beloved family members changed dramatically.

Perhaps everyone has that moment of realization that a loved one is approaching life’s twilight, often followed by a profound sense of grief and longing. Chung conveys these very raw emotions in her work. She applies the meticulous techniques of mineral painting—traditionally used to depict intricate bird feathers and delicate flower petals—to render her father’s and grandmother’s gray hair, the lines etched by time on their faces, and the seemingly mundane but telling images of them falling asleep midday.


Two pieces from Chung Shun-Wen‘s Family Memories series. The unique perspective of the scene reflects the enduring emotional connection between the artist and her subjects.

With time, Chung became more conscious of the gentle curvature of her aging father’s spine and the emergence of graying eyebrows. Her grandmother’s carefully coiled bun is now almost entirely silver with just a few black strands—the remnants of her youth. These images became a brutal, yet beautifully poignant reminder of both imminent loss and a life well lived. The years devoted to children and grandchildren are etched in the lines on their necks and faces and in the calluses of their palms.

Chung also paints landscapes and everyday scenes of her hometown, from cats and monkeys to roadside wildflowers. She meticulously portrays roadside wildflowers against backdrops adorned with gold leaf, elevating these modest plants—often dismissed as mere weeds—into objects of refined beauty.


Top left and bottom right: Paintings from Chung’s Growing up Wild series. The wild grasses and wildflowers, born and nurtured by nature, exhibit their innate beauty. Top right and bottom left: Paintings from Chung’s Southern Collections series. Seed by seed, leaf by leaf, tiny seeds scatter across the soil in the southern regions of Taiwan, as if emitting a faint glow. Through meticulous observation and brushwork, the artist depicts the gifts bestowed by nature, expressing gratitude and reverence for their blessings.

In autumn, she ventures into the wilderness to collect seeds, each unique in shape and size. Though these seeds appear withered, they represent a dormant vitality, reminding us of the return of spring’s vibrant colours.

Such is the narrative of Chung’s artistry and beloved subjects.

This story is from Magnifissance Issue 121

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Inspired for a Beautiful Life

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