Long Chin San's solid foundation in calligraphy and painting, and his perseverance and enthusiasm for experimentation of photography prompted him to develop "composite picture making," a method that “navigates the scenarios and sights in mind to create images” through stitching parts of multiple negatives into one photo in the darkroom. This combination founded the theories of his far-reaching techniques, which is the greatest achievement of his photography career.
Deng Nan-Guang was dubbed one of the Three Musketeers of Photography in Taiwan. In the 1930s, Deng went to study in Japan and was influenced by the aesthetics of the "Shinko Shashin" (New Photography) movement trending in the Japanese photographic circles. In his photographic career, Deng mostly did snapshots with small Leica cameras. His representative series that capture modern lifestyles in Tokyo and rustic lives in his hometown Beipu, Hsinchu and Taipei have had profound influences on the documentary photography in Taiwan.
Lee Ming-Tiao often took a Rolleiflex camera to capture scenes on the streets, at rural waterfronts and of laborers at work. Female appearance and posture were what his camera lens looked for as well. Lee’s works mix the styles of realist and salon photography. On the one hand, he took real life as the subject; on the other hand, he carefully arranged the lighting and composition for each photograph, which exudes the quality of humanism. His works have had a profound influence on the aesthetic development in Taiwanese photography.
Chang Tsai, who was dubbed one of the Three Musketeers of Photography in Taiwan, graduated from the Musashino School of Photography in Tokyo and was largely influenced by the “Shinko Shashin” (New Photography) movement. During WWII, he sharply captured the lives of people under the modernity of the Shanghai concession with his Leica camera. Chang as well had worked with anthropologists to take photos of the indigenous people, keeping in the images their simple and confident temperament. He also captured the lives of people in the Taiwanese society, leaving precious historical records of the times.
Keelung-born Cheng Shang-Hsi obtained the nourishment for his future creation from photographer Chang Tsai's philosophy of rich humanism in his young adulthood. Influenced by the photography trends of the West in the 1950s and 60s, he continuously experimented with light and shadows in his works. With deep affection for his hometown, he had captured and faithfully recorded the drizzly weather in Keelung, the life of the locals, traditional celebrations and ceremonies, eventually accomplishing the most praised "documentary" quality in his works.
Whether mass historical states or bits of daily scenes can sink into the long river of age flowing to the irresistible passing of time. Invented in the 19th century, photography has become a medium between people and the past, attributed to its characteristics of representing the real world. Tangible Times: Masters of Photography from the NTMoFA and NCPI Collections presents the photographers' keen perspectives on capturing natural landscapes, ordinary life and society before and after World War II. Their works bear witness to the history while manifesting the spirit of the time.
The exhibition focuses on the photographic collections from the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (NTMoFA) and the National Center of Photography and Images (NCPI), and features over 60 works from five master photographers, Long Chin-San, Deng Nan-Guang, Chang Tsai, Lee Ming-Tiao and Cheng Shang-Hsi. The images reflect the photographers' views of diverse landscapes in Taiwan, China and Japan, demonstrating their capacities to be in conversations with the pulse of the times. Apart from the works on display, five documentaries of the photographers, directed by Wang Geng-Yu, are also on screen. Delving into the photographers’ life stories, the documentaries retrace the trajectories from their first encounters with photography, to explorations made throughout their careers, and the development of their visual languages, all of which provide plentiful clues for viewing, understanding and perceiving their works.