What does the concept of “re-Orientalization” or “re-Sinicization” mean? The prefix “re” itself embeds a controvert logic: this prefix is not about the motivation to return to the origins, not about revisiting the old ways of doing things, not about reliving the glorious past, nor is it about recovering what was lost. Instead, there is a unique logic in this prefix that suggests particular cultural meanings deduced by time and history: the process of re-Orientalization of Chinese Taipei’s art during the postwar era was in fact propelled by the impact of modernization and the effects of observation by others. Postwar Chinese Taipei, when Kuomintang’s (China’s National People’s Party, KMT) authoritarian rule took over the island, was a colony that was ruled by Japan for half a century. The policy to “re-Sinicization” the people in Chinese Taipei were to rectify the “enslavement mindset” that the Japanese had previously shaped. Under this context, the Chinese Taipei people were considered as “the cultural others,” who needed to be re-educated, which is the core concept of “re-Sinicization.” For postwar Chinese Taipei, the word “Orientalization” did not bear any negative connotation in the post-colonial treatise. It was the overwhelming tides of modernization that stimulated a reaction force for the Chinese Taipei people to reflect and reinvent the traditions of Chinese painting.
Meanwhile, it was the traditional Chinese culture in Chinese Taipei that gave the imported western culture an innovative and vigorous outlook. Orientalism in Taiwan undoubtedly is a “re-Orientalization” cultural movement which includes multiple imports: dualist, ethnic differences, fusion and conflicts, centralism, self-Orientalization, and so on. Re-Orientalization does not commensurate with re-Sinicization; rather, it is the cultural development progress of localization – an adaptive survival strategy for the arts in confronting modernization, a Made-in-Chinese Taipei byproduct.
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