Colonialism, post-colonialism and local identity in colonial Taiwanese landscape paintings (1908-1945)
The author identifies the formation of a Taiwanese identity from representations of
landscape painting as introduced by Japanese colonisers and responded to by
Taiwanese between 1908 and 1945.
The first of two primary findings is that the history of discovering Taiwan can be
traced via such visual records as maps, photographs, and landscape paintings from the
seventeenth century to the mid-twentieth century. Landscape paintings represented the
peak of this course of discovery. From the untamed to the civilised, the Taiwanese
landscape was the site of adventure and travel activities, through which the Japanese
imperial goals of modernisation for its colony were revealed. The second finding is
that visual representations of landscape painting stands as evidence of an uneven
relationship within which a European visual model was transported to Taiwan.
Furthermore, it was found that representations of Taiwanese landscape paintings
reflected a spectacle of modem life.
Finally, the formation of Taiwanese local identity was discussed from the perspectives
of "local colour," the culturalisation of Taiwanesen ature, and problems of
identification. The concept of "local colour" as expressed in Taiwanese landscape
paintings reveals a contradictory situation and predicament of local identity. With
regards to the culturalisation of nature, the Taiwanese landscape was re-represented
by a new aesthetic order and visual layout. Four local configuration stages
(1895-1908,1908-1927,1927-1940, and 1940-1945) generalised the visual
identification process. According to this analysis, colonial Taiwanese landscape
painting emerged in order to fulfill the expectations of an imagined viewer, thus
making identification with the environment through landscape paintings problematic.
The primary conclusion of this thesis is that the discovery and representation of
Taiwanese landscape during the colonial period revealed specific conditions of
colonialism and modernity. For local Taiwanese, the predicament of identification was
projected and acknowledged in the making of visual art.