Following the donations of Taiwanese art collections by California's Sun Ten Museum (順天美術館) and by late painter Lin Yu-shan's (林玉山) family members, a Los Angeles-based descendant of late artist Hung Rui-lin (洪瑞麟) has also decided to donate over 2,500 pieces of his father's paintings and manuscripts to the Ministry of Culture.
Hung, a representative painter whose subtle works reflect a profound care for all members of society, was born in Taipei in 1912 with passion for painting from an early age. He teamed up with fellow artists, including Chang Wan-chung (張萬傳) and Lu Ji-jheng (呂基正), to launch Cercle MOUVE (MOUVE行動美術學會), a new art association that sought to differentiate itself from the established Tai-Yang Art Association (台陽美術協會) in 1938, after spending eight years in Japan to hone his painting skills.
That same year, Hong started to work for Ruifang Coal Mining Company, where he began to paint the scenes of miners he eventually became well-known for. In his 35 years working for the mining company, Hung used his paintings to raise awareness of the plight of coal miners, whom he described as unsung heroes and pioneers.
Throughout his life, he never stopped creating. The later painter's works encompass a wide variety of themes, including naked figures, landscapes, and animals. He settled in California's Redondo Beach in 1980, and the sunny sceneries of the coastal LA city thus became a great source of inspiration in his later years. In Hung's last piece from 1996, the painter once again brought the underground life of miners to light with his terse and modest painting style.
After learning that Hung Chun-hsiung (洪鈞雄), the late artist's eldest son, was considering to donate Hung's artworks to Taiwan, Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun made a private trip to LA in November 2019 to pay the late artisan's studio a visit and meet with his descendant.
Although his personal attachment to the artworks is strong, Hung Chun-hsiung said that his father's artistic legacy belongs to Taiwan. He hopes the donations will provide great access to future generations and people who enjoy his father's art, and that he looks forward to the digitization of these works under the Ministry's "Reconstruction of Taiwan Art History" project. "I think father's paintings contain his epiphanies in life, and his spirit should be passed on by any means possible," the junior Hung stated.
Only keeping a handful of choice pieces for his family to commemorate the late artist, Hung Chun-hsiung has decided to donated more than 2,500 oil paintings, sketches, watercolor drawings, and ink wash paintings that date from 1930 to 1996 to the Ministry. They are currently stored in the late artist's studio and the younger Hung's residence in LA.
Expressing her gratitude for the invaluable donations, the Minister said reconstructing Taiwan's art history is not merely a policy objective, but also a continuous cultural movement that aspires to preserve the nation's cultural assets for future generations to come.
"I very much hope that we and our next generations not only know of French artist Jean Francois Millet, who painted peasant farmers, but also of Taiwan's Hung Rui-lin, who portrayed coal miners," Minister Cheng concluded.