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Oil Painting
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Traditional Realism


The restart of Lee Ming-Yun's Art

Chiao Shi-tai

Taiwanese Senior Artist

Ms Lee Ming-yun has retired from the educational circle two years ago. Yet after her retirement she becomes busier than before, not in housework but in the restart of her art life!

Is it some kind of fatalism? "I'd like to make my dream of painting come true," said Lee Ming-yun. "this is my expectation since childhood. Though I did major in art as under/post graduate student, and then worked as an art teacher for almost 30 years, yet it's nothing but knowledge or vocational mission. I still have a dream of painting to achieve!"


Therefore, she picks up her brush again and organizes her new life of art:
—She used to make ink paintings but now turns to oil paintings. Joining the Art Association of Human Body, she draws every stroke seriously. She hopes to find out the inner spirit of art through technical upgrade.

—She participates in art activities. Besides exhibitions, she has also acted as the first president of the Art Association of Da Guan. Her teacher. Liu Wcn-wci. has advised her professionally on the ideas of colors and creation.
—She begins to travel among eastern and western art cities, from mainland China. Europe to the United Slates. From these travels beyond books, she feels how vital, real and touching art can be!

"You know, those fat women I draw come from the street view in the United States: middle-aged women with plump cheeks, flexible waists, vigorous figures and ruddy skin. All of them are so self-confident, true and natural that even their surroundings are enlivened. This is America: this is the 'American beauty'!"

After returning to Taiwan, she has made a series of "Fat Women". Through these fat women she understands and contemplates Nature once again. Thus she comes back to 19th- century Realism, the great movement which played an important part in the progress of European art.

Originated in France, Realism is the artistic movement popularized around mid- 19th century. It regards the reality itself as the most appropriate source of subjects and claims to prcacnl contemporary lives without any need of modification. With figures from low-classes as its protagonists, it is socially critical in essence. The representative artists include Gustave Courbct (1819-1877). Honorc-Victorin Daumicr (1808-1879).

I cannot paint an angel because I have never seen one." claimed Courbct. Realism is something visually existent, something substantial and cannot rely on mere imagination.

The so-called realism in Taiwan is usually nothing but formal replica without the inner spirit of Realism. Lee Ming-yun's enlightenment of "Fat Vtomen", however, is aesthetically transceodentol. It means no criticism but a true sense of physical "beauty".

Hence, there will be great differences in the substantiality between painting a human body from pure imagination and from real nature: no matter how precise the form of figure is. This is the reason why we must have models when painting figures.

Lee Ming-yun wants a true soul, with live flesh and blood to touch. This is the connotation of her art at present.

Ilenoe her recent works all highlight this idea:
On still life: she pursues the reality of forms and the harmony of color.
On landscape: she derives her subjects from mainland China Most of her landscapes are mountains and waters, which is perhaps related to her earlier experience of ink paintings, and her composition and direction of mountains are thus typically Oriental.

On figures: most of them are models painted indoors. The figures are true to nature, somehow unchanged, and are harmonic in colors with a sense of drawing. More interestingly, when she paints those people around her daily life the figures turn out to be rather vivid, which reminds me why the family painted by Picasso are so vital and interesting.

This is the universal where artists gather their subjects, lb start from the surroundings is to make the truest projection of emotional expression.

This is the panorama of her works at present. The restart of my own art comes from my inner world." said Lee Ming-yun. "everything depends on the needs of the heart. The so-called modernization focuses on the breakthrough of forms, but I don't pursue it just for current trend. However, my next step is definitely to deepen my works. That's very important".

What is the deepening of hor works is, so to speak, very difficult to explain. But in respect of her personality and her thoughts on creation, she will maintain the humanist tradition of Oriental arts. As for the formal variation, it depends on the needs during the process of personal creation and is thus another thing

Chiao Shi-tai

Professor Chiao Shih-tai Director. Center for Chinese Art Studies Yung Ho, Taipei, Taiwan. ROC Dec. 23,2005

my next step is definitely to deepen my works.