My Uncle Read Lee The Artist

台北市立美术馆观三舅李德画展

老君炉烟腾云台,
浪翻雾涌喧东海。
虔僧西域失迷津,
神猴金睛透兜率。

阳明龙场悟良知,
毛公鼎腹铭兴衰。
转笔大荒人烟绝,
回首凡界洞门开。

The entry in Google describes my uncle Read Lee (Lee De 李德) as an important artist of the older generation in Taiwan. He passed away last year at the age of 89. From July this year until 25th September, Taipei Municipal Art Museum staged a large and very important exhibition of over 180 of his works which took up three large halls. My wife and I flew to Taipei just in time to see it.
It is hard to describe Read Lee’s art. I stood in front of his paintings for a long time and I felt that I wanted to get back to the world and into the sunshine. I am sure there will be debates and many interpretations about the works of his different creative periods. The works seem to be steeped in philosophy and perhaps even religion. I wrote a poem in Chinese, in classical “qiyan lvshi” style. The first four lines are my impressions of his oils of the 1970s and 1980s and I used Chinese legends. Then in the next four lines, I grabbed “Yangming” , a mountain just outside Taipei city, and “Maogong”, an ancient bronze vessel being displayed in the Palace Museum, to describe the pivotal moment in a person’s life. Read Lee likewise experienced such a moment sometime in 1989 and he started to paint differently. Coincidently, both the mountain and the bronze vessel are named after real persons.
The Museum is huge, spacious, modern, and very impressive. The exhibition is unforgettable.
Picture-taking was not allowed. So I only managed to take a photo at the entrance showing San Jiujiu (that’s how we address him) working in his studio.



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