It’s not uncommon to see oil paintings on canvasses, but it’s unusual to see them on kitchenware, chairs, handkerchiefs, bags, and other household items. But there is a grandmother in Taiwan who paints on anything.
Please watch the following video of the painter, Wang Chen Min-chu:
Born in 1927 in the countryside of Tainan County in southern Taiwan, Wang Chen Min-chu (王陳明珠) used to be an elementary school teacher in her hometown. After relocating to Taipei City in the 1960s for her husband’s career, she was keen on learning a wide variety of new things in this metropolitan city, including making buns, dressmaking, floral arrangements, and hairdressing.
She eventually ran a beauty salon in Taipei for about 10 years in the 1970s. It was believed that she was one of the first hairdressers to introduce Audrey Hepburn’s mushroom-shaped hairstyle to Taiwan. She was once dubbed the “hair doctor,” because she treated the deterioration of hair for her customers.
After her beauty salon closed down due to family reasons, she started to explore oil painting to express the strong emotions and feelings that were deep in her heart and mind. One day in 1987, while attending a painting exhibit along with her husband, she noted one of the works created by prominent Chinese master Huang Jun-Bi (黃君璧, 1898-1991).
Because her husband didn’t agree to purchase the expensive piece, the idea of learning to paint for herself came to her. She soon signed up for an oil painting class organized by the Taipei City government. Because of her passion for oil painting, she attended painting classes for about four years to improve her skills.
In this way, she embarked on her oil painting journey. Besides painting on canvases, she also paints on used cutting boards, frying pans, chairs, benches, handkerchiefs, bags, and other kitchenware just for fun.
Nonetheless, and much to her surprise, her paintings impressed many of her relatives and friends, who displayed them in their homes. Inspired by the positive feedback from others, she devoted more time to her painting.
Earlier this year, a young artist who works for a gallery in Taipei happened to see Wang Chen’s paintings on Facebook and was deeply impressed. Through the efforts of this young artist, Wang Chen is holding her first exhibition at Legends Digital Services Corp. in Taipei from November 1 to December 31, 2017.
Among her works on exhibit, one piece, entitled The Homeland at Twilight (黃昏的故鄉), has intrigued many viewers. A witness to World War II and the harsh plight during the martial law period in Taiwan, Wang Chen uses paint brushes and blades to express her deep-rooted feelings on canvas. This piece depicts the scenarios of expats who were nostalgic for the good old days in their homeland from afar.
The Homeland at Twilight is in fact a famous Taiwanese song, originally adapted from Japan, with a touching melody. In the painting, there are several old houses situated in the middle of a wheat field where villagers are painstakingly farming under 25 suns.
Though Wang Chen Min-chu is quite elderly, she is still enthusiastic about learning different painting techniques, including realism, pastiche, and abstract.
About four years ago, she came across a local artist who appreciated her talents very much. Shortly thereafter, she started to learn random painting techniques from him. She is currently working on her self-portrait, and said that it would be something memorable for her family.
Wang Chen Min-chu says painting has truly enriched her life, and she will continue to create more works. She emphasized that all the proceeds from the sale of her paintings will be donated to charities and minority groups.
Wang Chen Min-chu is a vivid example of lifelong learning and a positive attitude toward life. Her great compassion is an inspiration, and will surely be remembered by many people.