Crystalized Times: 2023 Highlights from the NCPI Collection

2023.04.15 - 07.09
National Center of Photography and Images, Taipei Galleries 201-203
FU Yuan-cheng
KO Yung-chien
Exhibiting Artist(s)
Chang Lung-ko
Yang Chih-hsin
Chow Chee-kong
Ministry of Culture

National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts

National Center of Photography and Images
Exhibition Overview

The year 2023 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of three Taiwanese photographers: Chang Lung-ko (1923-), Yang Chih-hsin (1923-2005), and Chow Chee-kong (1923-2016). Focusing on the three photographers, the storyline of the “Photo-Coagulation: 2023 Centennial Exhibition of Taiwanese Photographers” begins from the 1940s and the 1950s. Examining the era they lived in, relevant literature and documents, and photographic works carefully selected by our curators, this exhibition reveals the keenness in the three photographers’ camera angles and their artistic expressions.

Constantly moving in the 1940s, Chang Lung-ko was first shifted to Shanghai, then to Shenyang, Guangzhou, Hainan and other areas with the relocation of the army. He recorded the whole process of his migration through photography, until he finally settled down in Taiwan in 1949. This exhibition visualizes Chang’s life path through his early photo albums, letters, and other documents, demonstrating how photos have been transformed from records of instant moments into the testimony of the past as time went by. After his retirement in the 1990s, he moved to Australia and stayed there for 15 years, during which he delved further into photography. Through the scenery, natural ecosystems and portrait photographs Chang captured in this period, this exhibition highlights the photographer’s accurate shutter speed and his exclusive photographic expressions such as “Waves of Momentum” and “Sensations in Movement and Stillness.”

Yang Chih-hsin completed his education in Japan before the outbreak of World War II and came back to Taiwan in 1946. In 1951, he joined the Harvest magazine published by the Sino-American Joint Commission on Rural Reconstruction (JCRR) and worked as a photographer for 10 years. This gave him a chance to travel through rural places across Taiwan and thoroughly explore the countryside. He not only shot numerous pictures for agricultural policy promotion, but also leveraged his unique perspectives outside of work to capture photos of everyday life in cities and countryside, revealing the reality of Taiwan under the influence of geopolitical situations, the Cold War and the U.S. Aid in the 1950s, before the agrarian to industrial transition took place.

In 1946, Chow Chee-kong was accredited to Taiwan with the Directorate General of Telecommunications. In the 1950s, he joined the Chinese Writer's & Artist's Association to promote photography and began his collaboration with Lang Ching-shan to restore the Photographic Society of China in Taiwan. An advocator of "poetic photography," Chow-Chee-kong transmuted the feelings and emotions hinted in the scenes he captured into poetic lines and inscribed them on his photographic works, which celebrate the artistic style of Chinese culture through “poetic feelings” and “pictorial emotions.” Using a variety of themes, including “Poetic Landscapes,” “Ink Mountains,” and “Odes to the Four Seasons,” this exhibition presents how Chow Chee-kong, complementing pictorial photographs with calligraphy poems, vented his feelings and opinions in an implicit but affectionate way. 

Photography is the epitome of time mediated by a flat surface, while the unique points of view of photographers bring timeless and thought-provoking meanings into photographic works. Featuring the different life stories and artistic conceptions of the three photographers, this exhibition develops various image perspectives and themes. Retracing the path of creation of those photographers, the audience can not only feel their passionate and generative artistic energy, but also revisit the diverse and rich historical trajectory in the flow of time, perceptualized by photography art and interwoven with different eras, cultures, society, and humanity.

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