Homeward bound: The remarkable career of Ho Te-lai

The following article appeared in today’s Taipei Times.

This piece was very personal to me as it is about my children’s great-great-granduncle – a painter who has only really started to gain the recognition he deserves (at least in Taiwan) over the last 30 years. Many hours of research went into this over a course of almost 20 years. So glad to finally see it published. 

In late 1909, the Ho family faced a dilemma. Mired in arrears on the rent for their modest rice patch in Tanwen village (談文), present-day Miaoli County (苗栗縣), the tenant farmers received a modest proposal: their son in exchange for a clean slate. They accepted, and the boy was adopted by Ho Chai-wu (何宅五, no relation), a wealthy merchant from Hsinchu City (新竹).

Sixty years later, the adoptee — who had become an acclaimed painter in Japan — would lament the circumstances that saw him torn from his family and, ultimately, his homeland.

“Born in Taiwan,” begins the text on Fifty-Five Waka Poems (五十五首歌), a painting by Ho Te-lai (何德來) that features in the artist’s first Taiwan retrospective in almost 30 years. “Mother painfully had me adopted away at age six; sent off to study in Tokyo at age nine.”

To read the full article, click here.

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