Chu Ko

1931-2011 Hunan, China

Introduction

A central figure in the modern art movement for the past forty years, Chu Ko is known for his image of the unwinding knot. His work is featured on the cover of Michael Sullivan’s definitive monograph Arts and Artists of Twentieth-Century China (by University of California Press, 1996), in which Sullivan describes Chu as “one of the Taiwanese artists who have given new meaning to the term wenrenhua [literati painting].” While Chu utilizes traditional iconography and a traditional format and style of Chinese ink painting, his approach concertedly strives to revitalize traditional norms.

In 1949, he moved to Taiwan and enlisted in the military, remaining an active soldier for seventeen years. During that time, he enrolled in night courses at a local art college, expanding on his classical education in literature, painting and calligraphy. In 1968, Chu joined the Antiquities Department at the National Palace Museum and became an expert in the field of ancient bronze vessels. It was during the 1970s, with the encouragement of friends and family, that Chu began to exhibit his works. In 1984, following a miraculous recovery from nasopharyngeal cancer, Chu devoted himself fully to his painting. In 1988 and 1992, Chu was selected as one of the two Chinese artists commissioned to represent the Republic of China at the Seoul and Barcelona Olympics, respectively.

In the past 50 years Chu Ko has participated in over sixty solo and group exhibitions across the world. Following a retrospective exhibition at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in 1991, Alisan Fine Arts held its first solo exhibition for Chu in 1992, followed by two more solo exhibitions, one at the Hong Kong Arts Centre. In 2014, three years after Chu’s death, the Cultural Department of Taiwan Government organized the exhibition Walking Through his Paintings and Poems exhibit to commemorate this Taiwan icon.

His works have been collected by several important public institutions including the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul; the Olympic Museum, Lausanne, Switzerland; the Art Institute of Chicago; and the JP Morgan Chase Art Collection.

 


BIOGRAPHY

1931    Yuan Te-hsing, a.k.a. Chu Ko, born in Hunan Province, China

1938    Began formal education with the “Three Character Classic,” “the Confucian Analects” and calligraphy

1947    Enrolled in Mi-Ho High School, inspired by the writings of modern reformers and modern poets such as Laoshe, Baijin, etc.

1954    Transferred to Taiwan

1957    Adopted the pen name Chu Ko for his art critique

1962    Became a Buddhist

1966    Published first poetry collection “Unripe Fruit”

1967    Invited to teach Art and Chinese culture at the Chinese Culture College in Taiwan

1968    Joined the Antiquities Department of the National Palace Museum, specializing in ancient bronze vessels

1970s  Edited and written“Enamels in National Palace Museum” (1971)“Jade in National Museum” (1974), published “The Cultural Monuments of China”(1976) a survey of Chinese art for the general

1980s  Published “Firebird Reborn” (1985), a collection of art reviews titled “The Life of Beauty” (1986)

2002   Lectured and demonstrated atSeattle Asian Art Museum, Seattle, USA

            Retired researcher from the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan

2011   Passed away in Taiwan

 

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2014

  • Walking through his paintings and poems-3rd anniversary of Chu Ko’s deaath, Cultural Department of Taiwan Government, Taipei, Taiwan

2008

  • Oil painting exhibition, Mingshan Art Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan

2007 

  • 99 Degree Art Centre, Taipei, Taiwan

2006

  • Shanghai Liu Haisu Art Museum, Shanghai, China

2004

  • Braid it in Art: The Rope Twisting Art by Chu Ko, National History Museum, Taipei, Taiwan

1998

  • Ties of Affection, National History Museum, Taipei, Taiwan

1997

  • Contemplating Structure, Taipei Museum of Art, Taipei, Taiwan

1994 

  • The Ceaseless Line, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Library & Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong

1992

  • A Man for all Seasons, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong

1991

  • A World of Feelings, Retrospective Exhibition, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan

1989

  • Jacques Barrere, Art d’Extreme Orient, Paris, France

1984

  • Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong

1973 

  • Contemporary Painting Gallery, Seoul, Korea

 

Selected Group Exhibitions
2018
2016  
  • Transcendence and Symbol: Exhibition of Neoplastic Art in Taiwan, Liang Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
2007

  • 3rd Shanghai Ink Biennial, Zhu Qizhan Art Museum, Shanghai, China
2003 
  • 8 Artists from Taiwan, Chinese Cultural Association, Beijing, China
1999 
  • Linden Museum, Stuttgart, Germany
  • The Unwinding Knot, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong
1993 
  • Das Ulbersee Museum, Bremen, Germany
  • The Art Gallery, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA
1992  
  • Olympiad of Art (representative artist of Taiwan), Barcelona, Spain 
1990 
  • Couleurs de la Vie – Cent Artistes Temoignent Pour l’Homme, Biblioteque Nationale, Paris, France
  • 5th Asian International Art Exhibition, National History Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
1989 
  • 4th Asian International Art Exhibition, National History Museum, Taipei, Taiwan            
  • Homage to Picasso, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
1988 
  • Contemporary Chinese Art Exhibition, National History Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Olympiad of Art, Seoul, Korea (representative artist of Taiwan)
  • 3rd Asian International Art Exhibition, National History Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
1987 
  • The New Look of Chinese Modern Art, National History Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 2nd Asian International Art Exhibition, National History Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 7 Chinese Kunstenaars uit Taiwan, Nederloo, Belgium
1986 
  • Tendances de la Peinture Chinoise Traditionnelle, Versailles, France
  • Abstract Ink Painting in the Republic of China, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Taipei Modern Art 1986 Exhibition, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong
1974 
  • Exhibition of Contemporary Chinese Paintings, Ueno Art Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
1970 
  • Travelling Exhibition of Contemporary Chinese Artists, USA
1969 
  • Jubaopen Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan

Selected Public Collections

Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA
Olympic Museum, Lausanne, Switzerland

Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea
Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
JP Morgan Chase Art Collection