Artist Huang Tu-shui created his iconic work "Taiwan Buffalos" in his later years. He uses overlapping objects and light/dense lines to indicate the spatial distance between subject matters and background, as well as a subtle front/back relationship. The succinct lines of varying strength and thick and thin shapes render a rich sense of dimensions.
Taiwan Buffalos (1930) by Huang Tu-shuiNational Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts
“Taiwan Buffalos” is characterized by chiseled lines which allow human and animal figures to rise up like light reliefs, instead of indented into the picture. Three shepherd boys and five buffalos, young and old, are the main subjects, supplemented by Taiwanese plantain trees.
Buffalos, plantain trees, bamboo hats, shepherd boys, and wild grass and flowers constitute this idyllic scene of early-day Taiwan – unsophisticated and peaceful, with diligent people. The charm of a southern nation and the vigor of life are fully expressed here, whilst touting Taiwan’s best features.
In the front, on the right, a boy leaves his bamboo hat on the ground and touches a buffalo’s mouth in a naïve, childlike manner.
In the back, also on the right, a shepherd boy with a bamboo hat rides a buffalo, gently leaning forward.
The bamboo hat hung at the tip of a bamboo rod, the shepherd boy on the buffalo’s back, and the banana trees behind the buffalos, are all presented in shallow chiseled contours. This blurs the sense of space of the front, the middle, and the back.
Here, two buffalos seem to be walking towards the right, with one still lowering its head down for grass and the other looking ahead. Two other buffalos take the opposite direction; one also lowers down for grass and this time the other seems to follow suit.
The sense of space is extended through the looks of the buffalos. A young cub stands in the middle, looking to the right. It is being caressed by a little boy. The genuine affection between the cub and the boy seem to flow.
Taking a realistic approach of the West, the artist describes a folk scene of the East. The result is a tranquil scene of countryside Taiwan.
Taiwan Buffalo (1930) by Huang Tu-shuiNational Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts
National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts