Pick of the Week: Yu Peng (1955–2014)

Nov 10, 2014 5:30AM

On October 13, Taiwanese artist Yu Peng passed away from liver cancer in Taipei. He was 59 years old. One of the most important Taiwanese artists of his generation, he will be remembered as much for his audacity in radically challenging the classical order of ink paintings as for his way of living as a contemporary literati.

Yu Peng was born Wu Kunren to a Hakka family in Waishuangxi, a scenic area in northern Taipei City, in 1955. Never academically trained, Yu began his career as a street artist—an experience that rewarded him acute observations of all walks of life in the rapidly industrializing Taipei—during which he harnessed his live-sketching skills. This bold choice contributed to his outsider status in the rather conservative Taiwanese art world at the time, which consequently granted him freedom in his artistic explorations.