Tan Ting-pho

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Tan Ting-pho
Chen Chengpo nd.jpg
Born2 February 1895
DiedMarch 25, 1947 (1947-03-26) (aged 52)
NationalityTaiwanese (Hoklo)
Alma materTaiwan Governor-General's National Language School, Tokyo School of Fine Arts, Hongo Painting Institute
OccupationPainter and politician
Known forFounder of Chi-Hsing Painting Society, Tai-Yang Art Society, Chih-Yang Western Painting Society
Notable work
Street of Chiayi (嘉義の町中, alt. 嘉義街外)
TelevisionIs a character in La Grande Chaumiere Violette 紫色大稻埕 (2016 TV series)
AwardsOutside Chiayi Street selected for the 7th Imperial Art Exhibition, the first time a Taiwanese artist's work could be displayed at the exhibition.
Tan Ting-pho
Traditional Chinese陳澄波

Tan Ting-pho (Chinese: 陳澄波; pinyin: Chén Chéngbō; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Tân Têng-pho; 2 February 1895 – 25 March 1947), was a well-known Taiwanese painter. In 1926, his oil painting Street of Chiayi was featured in the seventh Empire Art Exhibition in Japan, which was the first time a Taiwanese artist's work could be displayed at the exhibition.[1] Tan devoted his life to education and creation, and was greatly concerned about the development of humanist culture in Taiwan. He was not only devoted to the improvement of his own painting, but also to the promotion of the aesthetic education of the Taiwanese people. He was murdered as a result of the February 28 Incident, a 1947 popular uprising in Taiwan which was brutally repressed by the Kuomintang (KMT).

Early life[edit]

Tan was born in Kagi (Chiayi), Qing Taiwan, into a poor family that could not invest in his artist talents. After attending college in Taihoku (Taipei), he returned to his hometown to work as a teacher, a job he held for seven years. Tan then earned enough money to attend the Tokyo University of the Arts, and graduated in 1929. Upon graduation, he moved to Shanghai for four years, where he taught art. Tan returned to Kagi in 1933, and joined the city's Preparatory Committee to Welcome the National Government in 1945. In 1946, Tan was elected as a member of the Chiayi City Council and joined the Kuomintang.[1]


He enrolled in the Taiwan Governor-General's National Language School (臺灣總督府國語學校) in 1913, where he studied Western-style watercolor painting under Ishikawa Kinichiro. In 1924, he went to mainland Japan to receive formal academic training in art under Japanese oil painter Tanabe Itaru at the Normal Education Division in Painting of the Tokyo School of Fine Arts (today's Tokyo University of the Arts). Tan also studied privately under Japanese luminarist Okada Saburosuke at his Hongō Painting Institute.

Work and public life[edit]

After completing his graduate program in 1929, he moved to Shanghai to teach at Xinhua Art College (上海新華藝專) and Changming Art School (上海昌明藝專). During his stay in Shanghai, he was influenced by the traditional Chinese painting of Ni Yunlin and Bada Shanren, and began to develop a distinctive style that fuses the lyrical essence of Chinese landscape painting with Western painting techniques. His work includes oil painting, glue color painting, and sketching while his themes center on landscapes and portraits, mostly inspired by everyday scenes around him.

In 1926, his work Street of Kagi was selected for the 7th Imperial Art Exhibition of Japan (帝展, Teiten), making him the first Taiwanese painter to have an oil painting accepted for the exhibition. His success continued after this initial breakthrough, and his works were selected several times for the Imperial Art Exhibition, Taiwan Art Exhibition (台展, Taiten), and Taiwan Viceroy Art Exhibition (府展, Futen), as well as exhibitions held by Japanese art groups outside the state-run exhibition circle like Kaijusha (槐樹社) and Kofukai (光風). After returning to Taiwan, the focus of his work shifted to the scenery of his hometown, as he showcased the charm of the Taiwanese landscape with plein-air works painted in Tamsui, Kagi and Tainan.

Painter Hsieh Li-fa [zh] has described Tan's artistic style as clumsy and awkward, which biographer Ko Tsung-min believed was intentional, comparing Tan's work to Vincent Van Gough and Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.[2]

Besides painting, Tan was also actively involved in Taiwanese art movements. Among other art movement activities, he co-founded the Chi-Hsing Painting Society in 1926, co-founded the Tai-Yang Art Society with Yang Sanlang and Liao Chi-chun in 1934, and helped young artists in Kagi establish the Qingchen Fine Art Association in 1940. His contributions to broadening the influence of art in Taiwan also extended to his service as a Chiayi City Councilor, and as a juror at the first Taiwan Provincial Art Exhibition after the handover of Taiwan in 1945.


Due to the February 28 Incident, severe conflict occurred in 1947 between the Chiayi citizens and the KMT, whose military was trapped inside the city's airport. The city produced a "February 28 Incident Committee", composed of Tan and five others who would approach the military as representatives of peace. The military, however, captured four of them, including Tan, and released the remaining two.[1]

On the morning of 25 March 1947, after being tied up with wire, the four were forced to march from the city's police station to the train station, where the other three were shot dead in public.[1] His son, Chen Shigemitsu (陳重光), recalled that as soon as hearing that his arrested father was paraded, he went onto the street and found his father on a military vehicle at Chiayi Fountain. He followed the contingent and realized what would happen when his sight suddenly met his father's.[citation needed]

When the vehicle stopped at Chiayi Station, the army strafed the square in front of the station, with bystanders fleeing in disorder. Tan Ting-pho was the last one pushed off the vehicle. Soldiers shot at him from three meters. The first shot missed but the second penetrated his chest, and Tan fell forward. The Kuomintang forbade the families from collecting the corpses immediately, so Tan's remains were left to decompose on the street for three days, until his wife and a photographer she had hired to take pictures of the aftermath collected them.[1]


Tan's work Chiayi Park was sold for $5,794,100 HKD at a Hong Kong auction on 28 April 2002.[3]

In 2015, a Google Doodle commemorated his 120th birthday.[4]

His paintings form the artwork for Lin Man-Chiu's picture book 《戴帽子的女孩》[The Girl in the Hat][5]


  1. ^ a b c d e Han Cheung (31 Jan 2016). "Life and death on the streets of Chiayi". Taipei Times. p. 12.
  2. ^ Lan, Tzu-wei (9 April 2018). "INTERVIEW: Author demystifies 'Chen Cheng-po Code'". Taipei Times. Translated by Chin, Jonathan; Chung, Jake. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-01-06. Retrieved 2006-02-08.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Chen Cheng-po's 120th Birthday". google.com. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  5. ^ https://writingchinese.leeds.ac.uk/book-club/october-2017-lin-man-chiu-%E6%9E%97%E6%BB%A1%E7%A7%8B/the-girl-in-the-hat-%E6%88%B4%E5%B8%BD%E5%AD%90%E7%9A%84%E5%A5%B3%E5%AD%A9/

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