Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Refracted Modernity

Refracted Modernity: Visual Culture and Identity in Colonial Taiwan

Copyright Date: 2007
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Refracted Modernity
    Book Description:

    Since the mid-1990s Taiwanese artists have been responsible for shaping much of the international contemporary art scene, yet studies on modern Taiwanese art published outside of Taiwan are scarce. The nine essays collected here present different perspectives on Taiwanese visual culture and landscape during the Japanese colonial period (1895–1945), focusing variously on travel writings, Western and Japanese/Oriental-style paintings, architecture, aboriginal material culture, and crafts. Issues addressed include the imagined Taiwan and the "discovery" of the Taiwanese landscape, which developed into the imperial ideology of nangoku (southern country); the problematic idea of "local color," which was imposed by Japanese, and its relation to the "nativism" that was embraced by Taiwanese; the gendered modernity exemplified in the representation of Chinese/Taiwanese women; and the development of Taiwanese artifacts and crafts from colonial to postcolonial times, from their discovery, estheticization, and industrialization to their commodification by both the colonizers and the colonized.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6410-1
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Yuko Kikuchi
  4. Note on Transliteration
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    Taiwan is certainly regarded as an economic tiger in Asia, but it has not, until recently, been regarded as a cultural producer. Taiwanese art was studied, if at all, as a subset of Chinese art. While the Palace Museum in Taipei has long been regarded as the premier repository of Chinese art, the concept of Taiwanese art as an independent entity gained international currency only in the 1990s, when a number of important international exhibitions took place — the Taipei Biennial since 1992, the Venice Biennale since 1995, “Art Taiwan: The Contemporary Art of Taiwan” in Sydney in 1995, “Inside Out:...

  6. Part 1 Images of Taiwan and the Discovery of the Taiwanese Landscape

    • 1 Colonial Encounters: Japanese Travel Writing on Colonial Taiwan
      (pp. 21-38)

      Colonial travel is a form of appropriation of colonies by the metropole. In a sense it is a sign of the “maturing” of the metropole as an imperial power, as the metropole begins to take a cultural interest in its periphery, even if only as a means of reinforcing its own identity. Accordingly, an interest in colonial tourism develops latently because there needs to exist an established sense of imperial consciousness in the metropole about its role as an imperial and colonial power. In the case of Japan, colonial travel began to develop in the 1920s and became popular in...

    • 2 The Beauty of the Untamed: Exploration and Travel in Colonial Taiwanese Landscape Painting
      (pp. 39-66)

      Discovering Taiwan beneath its economic and exotic exterior was a popular trend both before and after the period of Japanese Occupation. Exploration and travel to little-known destinations could be interpreted as a kind of expansionism with an imperial desire.¹ In an untamed environment, such travel becomes more exciting and enticing, because conquest is an obvious goal. Walking on the untamed land is about undertaking a physical and psychological journey to the goal of civilization. Overcoming the wildness like this is a symbolic triumph of modernity. Consequently, landscape painting can be viewed, to some extent, as an extension of this desire...

    • 3 Japanese Landscape Painting and Taiwan: Modernity, Colonialism, and National Identity
      (pp. 67-82)

      In examining how Japanese landscape painting expressed the issues of modernity, colonialism, and national identity specifically in relation to Taiwan, my aim is not to investigate the response of the colonized, the Taiwanese, which is dealt with elsewhere in this volume, but to explore what these issues meant to the colonizers, the Japanese. In order to clarify this, the essay first examines the development of the concept of a modern landscape in Japan, then presents the attitudes towards the Taiwanese landscape of two Japanese artists, Ishikawa Kin’ichirō and Fujishima Takeji, and finally analyzes the development of the concept ofnanyō...

    • 4 The Demise of Oriental-style Painting in Taiwan
      (pp. 83-108)

      During the period of Japanese rule in Taiwan (1895–1945), the Japanese introduced modern art, mainly in the areas of Western-style painting (seiyōga) and Japanese-style painting (nihonga). Of these, Western-style painting received more emphasis. Art education in the primary and secondary schools of the time put greater emphasis on basic training in Western art, and there were comparatively fewer channels for learning Japanese-style painting. Meanwhile, the officially sponsored annual Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition (Taiten), from its inception in 1927, set up two painting categories — the Oriental-style painting (toyoga) division and the Western-style painting (seiyōga) division — with the intention of promoting...

  7. Part 2 Images by and about Women

    • 5 The Changing Representation of Women in Modern Japanese Paintings
      (pp. 111-132)

      In this essay I discuss issues of gender and colonialism by analyzing the images of women in paintings exhibited in major exhibitions in Japan before 1945. In these exhibitions, increasingly numerous images of women in Chinese dress contrasted sharply with the images of women inkimono. After looking at the phenomenon in general, I will focus on the works of Chen Jin, the leading Taiwan-born female painter.

      In 1889 the Constitution of imperial Japan was ratified, and the Japanese Empire was established as a constitutional monarchy. In the same year the Imperial Museum was founded to house precious antiquities from...

    • 6 Modernity, Power, and Gender: Images of Women by Taiwanese Female Artists under Japanese Rule
      (pp. 133-166)

      In Taiwanese society during the Qing dynasty, only males had the right to receive education. Prior to the modern era, Taiwanese women did not have the chance to learn ink painting techniques, which were part of Confucian education leading to civil examinations. In traditional Taiwanese society, a woman’s artistic talent could be displayed only in crafts such as knitting and embroidery, regarded asnügong(women’s work) (Plate 15) by Confucian Literati. This meant that prior to the modern period, under the traditional Confucian hierarchical system, women did not have the right to produce “high art,” which in the traditional society...

  8. Part 3 Construction of Taiwan’s Vernacular Landscape

    • 7 Taiwaneseness in Japanese Period Architecture in Taiwan
      (pp. 169-192)

      The island of Taiwan is situated off the southeast coast of the Chinese mainland. Ever since it was named “Ilha Formosa” (Beautiful Island) by the Portuguese as they sailed down the west coast of the island in the sixteenth century, Taiwan’s history has been marked by a series of colonizations that created a complex and dynamic sociocultural environment. In this ever-changing context, the identity of the Taiwanese people has always been strongly influenced by various tangible and intangible factors. During different periods, people in Taiwan identified themselves by way of languages, beliefs, architecture, and other cultural features. Such cultural consciousness...

    • 8 Taiwanese Aboriginal Art and Artifacts: Entangled Images of Colonization and Modernization
      (pp. 193-216)

      It is obvious that upon their production, utilization, and transaction, all objects have embedded material attributes and cultural meanings, while as socially and culturally salient entities, objects also construct culture-crossing paths based on material stability and visibility. However, such culture crossing is never “free”; it is always formed by the dynamic views and definitions of cultural boundaries between Self and Others.¹ Thus, ways of seeing and representing the artifacts of Others reflect shifting power relations and ideologies in the history of contact. Taiwan is an example of this enactment. In particular, the artifacts of aborigines are a product derived from...

    • 9 Refracted Colonial Modernity: Vernacularism in the Development of Modern Taiwanese Crafts
      (pp. 217-248)

      This chapter, which investigates the issue of Taiwanese identity in crafts, focuses mainly on the discourses of “vernacularism” and the invention of “native Taiwaneseness” during the Japanese colonial period and includes some extended discussion on the continuity and transformation of crafts in the postcolonial period. The vernacularism upon which I focus is a politicocultural ideology and a movement initially imposed and promoted authoritatively by Japanese artists and scholars. This led to the institutionalization and popularization of the value of the “native” by local Taiwanese people and developed into “nativism” (xiangtu zhuyi). Distinct from the complex ironic phenomenon of nativism observed...

  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 249-272)
  10. Contributors
    (pp. 273-276)
  11. Index
    (pp. 277-285)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 286-286)