The Outlier: Chen Chi-kwan and his Views on Chinese Painting
In the history of art, there have always been outliers—artists who stand apart from the rest and defy categorization. A term popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his 2008 book of the same title, ‘outliers’ refers to successful individuals who sing to a different tune. The Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) is a salient example; in addition to being an extraordinary painter, he also conceived inventions for musical instruments, diving suits and flying machines. Another is the pop art icon Andy Warhol (1928–87), whose unique persona and obsessive character enabled him to differentiate himself from the crowd. In the world of modern Chinese art, one artist who also defied expectations was the architect and artist Chen Chi-kwan (1921–2007). Well known for his collaboration with the architect I. M. Pei (1917–2019) on the Luce Memorial Chapel in Taichung, Taiwan (Ping, 1996, p. E18), Chen was also instrumental in shaping a new direction for Chinese painting in the 20th century.