By William Ysaguirre
The cornucopia of gifts, which the Republic of China (R.O.C.) on Taiwan shares with Belize, grew to include its art and cuisine, when the ROC hosted the “2015 Taiwan Cultural Festival in Belize” over the weekend, to promote greater cultural exchange between the two countries.
The festival activities began with the Governor General, Sir Colville Young Sr. joining Taiwan’s Ambassador, Benjamin Ho to open an art exhibition of traditional Chinese painting at the Bliss Institute on Friday night, February 13.
The show featured 38 paintings done by renowned Chinese artist, Ms. Jyn TzyWang and 12 of her students, who ranged in ages from 12 -14 years old to middle-aged 35-45 to the elderly – 86 years old!
Taiwanese love nature, and Wang and her students have captured delightful images of Taiwan’s birds: orioles, cranes, mynas, sparrows, ducks, peacocks and kingfishers, its plants and flowers: morning glories, chrysanthenums, roses, peonies, plum blossoms and bamboo.
The art form is one of the oldest in the world, and is a traditional style of painting in black and colored ink (no oil paints) on paper or silk, and is now known as “guóhuà”, meaning national or ‘native painting’.
The artists used basically the same techniques as in Chinese calligraphy, and the finished paintings are usually hung on scrolls or mounted on hand-scrolls. This style of painting is also used to decorate album sheets, walls, lacquer-ware and folding screens.
Ms. Jyn-Tzy-Wang first specialized in Chinese painting at the National Taiwan College of Arts under the tutelage of masters Kuo-Chiang Jen and Cheng-Tun Lin of Hong Kong, and she has been painting in this style for decades.
Her perseverance has paid off; as her works have won acclaim at municipal, provincial and national contests in Taiwan, and she has exhibited her work at cultural centers in Taiwan, Japan, South Korea the United States, Canada, South Africa and Uruguay.
Today many of her works hang in the permanent collection of Taiwan’s National Museum of History,. as well as the art galleries of certain universities.
Some have also been donated to charity fundraisers, and today Ms. Wang chairs the Taipei Chinese Painting Art Research Association and she teaches at several institutions, including the Foreign Services Institute and several community colleges.
Guests at the opening reception also got to view a Taiwanese documentary film “Food Culture in Taiwan” which highlighted the variety of Taiwanese dishes, such as ground beef-vegetable stew served with sticky white rice and also their love for sea-food.
With more than 22 million people to feed, Taiwan’s fisheries industry has learned to farm the sea, and their love for oysters and other shell-fish is fed by aquaculture farms along the coast. Seaside restaurants serve a Taiwanese delicacy – the oyster omelet!
Belize City residents got to sample this variety of Taiwanese cuisine at a “Food Fair” hosted by the Taiwanese Embassy at the exhibition at the Bliss Institute on Friday night. The cultural festival continued on Saturday with the showing of another Taiwanese film, a two-hour comedy feature film directed by Chen Yu-Hsun, “The Moveable Feast” at the Bliss Centre for the Performing Arts.
The art festival heralded another important Chinese celebration, the Chinese New Year, celebrated on Thursday, February 19, which also opens the Spring Festival, an important time for Chinese family reunions and communal sharing of gifts and food.