Shaih Lifa, Taiwanese (1938 - )

Shaih Lifa

Born in 1938, SHAIH Lifa graduated from the Department of Arts, Provincial Normal College (now National Taiwan Normal University). He travelled to Paris in 1964 to study sculpture, and subsequently departed for New York in 1968 to study the theories and history of art. He is one of the best post-war artists in Taiwan. He is an active member of the Fifth Month Art Group. In addition, he played a crucial role in the birth of some important arts and cultural organization such as Paris Foundation of Art, Taiwanese Literature Association and Taiwan Cultural Exchange Center. In addition to artistic creation, he has been working at organizing exhibitions and writing art criticism. It should be added that for years he has devoted himself to compiling historical documents on the history of art movement in Taiwan. He has published several books on art, among which History of Taiwanese Art Movement during Japanese Occupation is one of the most renowned. He takes a firm stand on Taiwanese cultural identity when writing the art history of Taiwan. His contribution to the literary and art circles in Taiwan is beyond dispute.

SHAIH is a versatile and impressively productive artist, who is steeped in various fields of art such as printmaking, oil painting, sculpture and installations. His versatility testifies to his ceaseless efforts and exploration of the art world. Adroitly and freely he channels his dynamic creative energy into his artworks, sometimes with admirable restraint and sometimes with carefree abandon. His creative philosophy manifests itself in his artworks, which show the world his ideas about aesthetic ideal and artistic creation. His works have been selected by several important international exhibitions, such as the International Biennial Exhibition of Prints in Tokyo. In addition, his prints are collected by the Prints and Photo Department of the National Library of France (Bibliothèque national de France), MoMA, and National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts.

SHAIH’s prints were in the main created in the decade of his youth, a decade renowned as “Ten Years of Printmaking,” starting from his school days in Paris in 1964 to his apprenticeship in Westbeth Artists’ Housing in 1974. In terms of style and themes, prints made during this period can be roughly classified under five categories: the religious themes, Baby and Incubator, War and Peace, Pure Form, and Life in New York. These prints not only signify the transformation of SHAIH’s ideas about life at a different stage but also reveal his reaction to art trends. In these works, SHAIH deconstructs and remolds the mundane values of this world and presents different creative tensions flowing from the conflict between ideas and practices. This exhibition puts on display the linocuts and zincographs that SHAIH created during his overseas sojourn in Paris and New York. By presenting SHAIH’s ten-year printmaking journey, this exhibition aims to give the viewers a glimpse of his early thinking and ideas about art.

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