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Printmaking Maestro | Lin Chih-hsin

  • Date:2024-03-01
Lin Chih-hsin

Chinese Name: 林智信

Born: 1936

Birthplace: Tainan (Southern Taiwan)


Did You Know That…?

Lin Chih-hsin takes Picasso as his role model to be a multi-faceted artist who was capable of paintings, carving, making prints. Not limited to a single artistic medium, Lin’s creations are expressed in a variety of art forms, including ink wash paintings, prints, Cochin wares, sculpture, colored glaze, and oil paintings. 

Born in 1936 in Tainan’s Gueiren District during the period of Japanese rule, Lin Chih-hsin was admitted to the Department of Arts of the Tainan Normal School (now the National University of Tainan) in 1952, where he was introduced to wood engraving for printmaking by his teacher Chang Lin-shu (張麟書). Lin’s works later were printed on several well-known publications, including “Harvest (豐年)” magazine, “Tainan Youth (南市青年),” “Free Youth (自由青年),” the “Central Daily News (中央日報),” and the “Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News (新生報),” culminating in his determination to employ printmaking as his main medium for artistic creation.


Growing up in a village, Lin takes inspiration from rural lives and local culture for his printmaking works and paintings. In the 1970s, he actively participated in international printmaking competitions and was recognized with nominations and awards in several countries. These solidified Lin’s fame and status in the art industry. Most of his renowned works were made in this period, especially the works made with the oil print process.


In the 1980s, Lin was appointed by the Department of Education of the Taiwan Provincial Government (台灣省政府教育廳, now K-12 Education Administration) to run courses on traditional water-based woodcut printing, which brought him to throw himself into creating this kind of prints. “Earth Oven (爌窯)” and “Catching Crickets (灌蟋蟀)” created in 1984 are his most famous works during this period. “Celebrating the Mazu Festival (迎媽祖)”, a large-scale print that he started in 1975 and completed in 1995, was also made in the water-based woodcut printing technique. 


Consisting of 68 smaller pieces, the 124-meter-long “Celebrating the Mazu Festival” is the world’s longest woodcut printing, faithfully representing the grandiosity of the Matsu Festival in Tainan City. After its completion, Lin was invited by various local and international museums to showcase the artwork, including the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, the Museum of Art (now National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts), Japan Meiji University, M. K. Ciurlionis National Museum of Art of Lithuania, and the National History Museum of Latvia. 

Apart from printmaking, the artist also specializes in Cochin pottery. In 1988, Lin Chih-hsin learned Cochin pottery from master Lin Tian-mu (林添木), who was determined to pass on the 300-year-old art. Lin even encouraged his sons to learn the craft together, and later they set up their own factory to produce Cochin ceramics. 


Meanwhile, within the 18 years from 1989 to 2006, Lin focused on collecting Taiwan’s historical and geographical materials to prepare for his next creation “Formosa the Beautiful: Images of Taiwan in the 1950s (芬芳寶島:憶象1950年代的台灣).” He officially started the sketch in 2007 and completed this large-scale oil painting in 2014. 


In 2014, he also began painting “Beautiful Eastern Taiwan (美哉東臺灣),” illustrating the modern view of Taiwan’s eastern coast, thereby concluding the Taiwan trilogy. He thinks that the most unique elements of his works are the folklife and cultural scenes from his motherland, which is why he could stand out and be very well-received internationally. 


In terms of education, Lin also has been committed to children’s art education. His most notable achievements include leading his young students to participate in international art competitions in various countries, including China, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Italy, and India, and they came off with flying colors. Due to these achievements, he received the National Art Education Special Contribution Award in 1965.