Updated on: September 4, 2017
Master Xiao Ru-Song’s Brief Biography
Though born in Taipei, Master Xiao Ru-Song(1922~1992) settled in Hsinchu and devoted himself to almost forty years of teaching across the county. Master Xiao showed his outstanding talents in composition and amazing techniques of using colors in the Tai-Yang Art Exhibition in 1940, yet he never stopped reading, studying and absorbing new concepts from Western art. He continued to self-learn Impressionism, Cubism and Fauvism and integrate drawing lines and brush strokes of traditional eastern calligraphy to create his own unique painting style. He also won numerous honors in the Provincial Art Exhibition, Tai-Yang Art Exhibition, Qing-Yun Art Exhibition and Provincial Teacher’s Art Exhibition. His works even received approval of the Provincial Art Exhibition.
Master Xiao received a Japanese education during his childhood, which led to his meticulous teaching style. His rule to clean the classroom before he started his “Xiao-ish Arts Lessons” always impressed his students. This meticulous teaching philosophy also reflected Master Xiao’s daily lifestyle: waking up at five in the morning and arriving school at seven punctually. He therefore won himself the good name as “the person waking up the Sun”. As Master Xiao loved the landscapes of his hometown and contributed to the arts in Taiwan, he was also called “the interpreter of the beauty of Hsinchu Country”. After his teaching, arriving home and finishing meals, he would sit at his desk to study art theory, meditate on his creative works and at the same time urge himself not to be absent from art competitions. His serious and cautious lifestyle, persistence towards painting and a spirit looking for innovation and improvement not merely won himself the good name of “excellent athlete of art education”, but also made him the most important water color painter in Taiwan’s art history.
Master Xiao Ru-Song’s Art Creation
Master Xiao was a talented painter and he was good at drawing natural landscapes, still life, figures, etc. His self-expectation was that “Painters have to try diverse painting materials and various painting techniques, such as water color, ink, glue, sketching, oil painting, traditional Chinese calligraphy, etc., thereby challenging themselves”. For economic reasons, Master Xiao could not use expensive oil painting materials but only water color as material for art creation. He also considered water color painting as his strong point. Even though his creation style was not part of the mainstream, his efforts in painting generally received approval by people in the field of arts and he had outstanding artistic achievements. Master Xiao can therefore be said to be an important water color painter in the second phase of Taiwan’s art history.
Origins of the Xiao Ru-Song Arts Park
With his importance to the nation’s art scene and his contributions to education, Xiao has earned a status a symbol of national pride and a public role model.
Yet after passing away in 1992, Xiao’s residence went largely unmaintained, reduced to a sad remainder of what it had once been.
Hsinchu County’s Cultural Affairs Bureau, tasked with preserving cultural resources, recognized Xiao Ru-Song’s home as both a preservation of his former abode and an ode to the site that gave birth to his mastery, as well as a cultural relic of Hakka culture. Hsinchu County began developing the former residence into the Xiao Ru-Song Arts Park with permission from Xiao’s family members, consulting with various experts to preserve and restore the vitality of the property.
The Cultural Affairs Bureau formed a preparatory committee of 29 members in 2004 to gather opinions on how best to restore the historic residence. The fruit of their discussions in today’s Xiao Ru-Song Historic Residence, reborn into its former glory with a new life. Made more spacious by moving several peripheral buildings outward, the new art center will undergo renovations to two buildings and the addition of art facilities, including an art exhibition hall, venues for arts events and lectures, and a public space.
Beautification projects have turned the complex into a multi-faceted facility that memorializes a great artist, exhibits artwork, and provides the public with a place to rest their feet.