Lee Tze-Fan 1907-1989, Professor of Fine Arts


Tze-Fan Lee (1907-1989) was born in Hsinchu city of Taiwan. His painting career began while he was studying at the Taipei Normal School, when he was introduced to arts by the art teacher, Mr.Ishikawa Kinichiro. After graduation from the Normal School, he taught at Hsinchu First Public School, Hsinchu Teachers College, National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan Teachers Research Association and National Art Institute. Throughout his career, he was both an ardent art educator as well as a devoted practicing artist.


Mr. Lee's artistic style is relatively straightforward and uncomplicated, and yet subtly expressive. His favorite subjects were country scenes and natural beauties of Taiwan. Moreover, he developed a number of unique techniques of water color painting, such as "water-washing" (to dilute or remove the color with water-soaked bruch) and "color layering" (to paint an additional color on top of the existing color), both of which were not supposed to be possible in water color. These techiques are firmly associated with his fame.

Mr. Lee won many prizes and awards at private (e.g., the Taiwan Art Exhibitions) and government (e.g., the Taiwan Art Exhibitions) during the Japanese colonial period, and subsequently at the Taiwanese Art Exhibitions and the Provincial Art Teachers Exhibitions after the war. He held several solo exhibitions and adjudicated various official exhibitions. His achievements earned him the Golden Cup Prize from the Artists Association of Republic of China (Taiwan) in 1974 and election to Ten Outstanding Taiwanese Artists by Council for Cultural Planning and Development in 1983.


The Art of Tze-Fan Lee

[Adapted from Professor Charng-Sheng Tzai's art critics "The art and personality of Tze-Fan Lee"].

Mr.Lee's initation to art was by Mr. Ishikawa Kinichiro, but he developed his own style and his own spectacular visual language distinct from his master. Mr. Ishikawa's painting is as light as a floating feather, whereas Mr. Lee's is as solid as the earth on which we stand. While Mr. Ishikawa indulges in lush and harmonic expression, Mr. Lee creates a fresh originality through relations among depicted objects. Although Mr. Lee, as a pupil of Mr. Ishikawa, much respected his teacher, he developed his own style that earns him great esteem from any art historian.

These two masters have distinctive points of views. Mr. Lee's personality is like his painting-honest, substantial, and stable. Such qualities are best demonstrated in his depiction of a mountain: instead of casually applying a few broad strokes of purple-blue to pretend it to be a mountain as most others do, Mr. Lee treated a mountain with a great care and sincerity. When you look at a mountain in Mr. Lee's painting, you can feel the force that causes the mountains to emerge from earth, firm and powerful, and full of spirit. It looks so real that one can actually sense the moist soil and the vegetation on it. Its innate power is far beyond what a few lightly touched brush strokes of superficially attractive treatment can convey.