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Wulai Falls Based on Sketches

Accession Number
2006/1.121

Title
Wulai Falls Based on Sketches

Artist(s)
Chang Ku-nien

Object Creation Date
1981

Medium & Support
hanging scroll, ink and light color on paper

Dimensions
13 3/8 in x 27 3/16 in (34 cm x 69 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. Cheng-Yang and Mrs. Shirley Chang

Label copy
This painting depicts Wulai Falls, a popular tourist site on
the outskirts of the city of Taipei in Taiwan. The high falls,
misty at the top and with rushing rapids in a distinctive
“Y” shape at the foot, occupy almost the entire height of
the painting, and the contrast of the water with the darker
textured rocks and lush green trees make it stand out.
On a nearby path several tourists (one of whom may be the
artist) are riding in a makeshift trolley being pushed by a
young coolie in a straw hat. This was a fashionable activity
at the time. The artist’s choice to make this detail a focal
point in the painting encourages the viewer’s sense of
being present at the actual scene. It also represents a radical
modernization of the trope of the scholar in the mountains
that was common in literati (amateur scholar-artist)
painting. Chang’s inscription suggests that he made this
following a jubilant trip to Wulai Falls and that his goal
was to picture the idea of the scenery rather than
produce a naturalistic rendering.
Fall 2015 Gallery Rotation
------------
These paintings depict Wulai Falls, a popular tourist site on the outskirts of Taipei. Wulai’s distinctive “Y” shape is clearly visible in both, but because of the differences in scale and composition, each offers a unique impression of the falls. The forceful pull of the water is the focal point of the larger hanging scroll. The high falls, misty at the top and with rushing rapids at the foot, occupy almost the entire height of the painting and the contrast of the water with the darker textured rocks and rich greenish trees make the waterfalls stand out.
In the smaller painting, which is rendered simply in light ink washes, the scenic waterfalls form the backdrop and the viewer’s attention is directed instead to the path at the center right where several tourists (perhaps including Chang and his wife?) are riding in a make-shift trolley being pushed up the path by a young coolie in a straw hat—a fashionable activity at the time. The artist’s choice to make this detail a focal point in the painting encourages not only the viewer’s sense of being present at the actual scene, it represents a radical modernization of the literati trope of the scholar in the mountains.
(Tradition Transformed: Chang Ku-nien, Master Painter of the 20th Century, Winter 2010)

Subject matter
The painting depicts Wulai Waterfalls, a popular scenic tourist site located in suburban Taipei. The recognizable “Y” shape configuration of Wulai Waterfalls is clearly visible.
Painted simply in light ink washes, the waterfalls fall into the backdrop. The viewer’s attention is directed to the hill-path on the center left, where several tourists are represented as riding some kind of rickshaw, a popular fashion at the time. The artist’s choice of including this local fashion as a point of reference in the painting creates and enhances a sense of presence for the viewer, enabling him/her to imagine himself/herself visiting the actual scene.

Physical Description
The Wulai Waterfalls are shown in a “Y” shape configuration, and painted in simple light ink washes. On a hill-path on the center right several tourists are represented as riding some kind of rickshaw.

Primary Object Classification
Painting

Additional Object Classification(s)
Painting

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
ink
scrolls (information artifacts)
sketches
waterfalls (natural bodies of water)

& Author Notes

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