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Master Lin Chih-chu preserves the beauty of glue-color art


     Lin Chih-chu has become known on the island as a master of the obscure art of "glue-color" painting and has inspired many Taiwanese artists with his unique skill and eye for nature.

     "Glue color" painting is an art form that originated in China during the Tang Dynasty, and today it is preserved mostly by the Japanese. This form of painting uses glue that is soaked, heated and filtered and then mixed with minerals or clay pigments and then applied layer by layer on the canvas. Lin notes that glue-color painting does not reveal lighting or shading, but uses light and dark colors to create a 3-D appearance, which is quite different from Western oil painting.

     Born in 1917 in Daya Township, Taichung County, Lin was able to pursue his interest because his father was very wealthy and had a great appreciation for the arts. His family lived in a three-sided compound with a large courtyard that contained an extensive garden. As a small child, when tired of playing, he would stay in the garden and observe the flowers and birds and as a result became a keen observer of nature. In elementary school, he gradually became aware of his unique drawing talent and after he finished the fifth grade his father sent him to Japan to study. There he finished elementary school and in junior high school began focusing on his art. Eventually, he entered art school.

     At age 23, his painting "Coolness of the Morning" was chosen as a finalist in Japan's largest and most prestigious art contest. In the background of this painting are tall bushes of morning glories with grayish leaves and white and grayish blossoms and in the forefront was a goat and its kid--completely white except for black horns and hooves. Next to them is Lin's young wife, wearing a dark blue kimono. He believes that it was his boldness in going against the current theory of use of space and colors that gained him this recognition. This painting is unusual in that it is vertical and the colors change when the painting is looked at up close and far away. However, due to poor preservation, the colors on the original have faded significantly. This piece is now part of the extensive collection of Taiwan's early artists in the Taiwan Art Museum.
Lin continued to live and work in Japan and, after graduating from art school, he returned to Taiwan at the end of World War II. In 1946, he was hired as an art professor at Taichung Teachers' College and moved into a house behind on Liuchuan West Road, where his studio remains. Lin taught at the college for 33 years and inspired many of Taiwan's contemporary glue-color painters. Now, he spends most of the time in the U.S. but insists on staying in Taiwan a few months each year to participate in exhibitions and to continue to teach.

     Due to the influence of his childhood garden, many of Lin's paintings feature birds and flowers. Lin explains his preference for these subjects by saying that, "Birds sing and flit about no matter if there is someone there to see them or listen to them. Flowers are the same. Their beauty is there whether or not people appreciate it." Lin knows that he was very lucky to have been able to concentrate on his artwork full time. He says that his students in Taiwan mostly have to teach or do other work on the side in addition to their art to survive. He adds that due to this, the development of the arts in Taiwan remains far slower than that of the Western world.


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