Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Jimmy Liao - Taiwan Artist

The HIGHLIGHT of my weekend that just passed was finding the time to see and enjoy the exhibition, Never Ending Story. It is of the works and art of Taiwanese Artist/Illustrator, Jimmy Liao, whose international appeal has grown overwhelmingly and rightfully so. A third of his books have been translated into Japanese and, slowly but surely,into English, French, German, Korean. Also in simplified Chinese characters as used in mainland China where he is very much well known.

In the fantasy world he has created, a child can stroll with a moon, wings can grow on a man and a blind girl can set off for adventures riding the subway. His tales carries familiar themes such as, love, breaking up, serendipity and urban isolation -- but he does it all through his whimsical characterizations of his illustrations.
The first book he created is also his favorite of all, "Secrets in the Forest". It tells the story of a boy exploring a forest in his dream. Facing all sorts of terrible and scary things. It was a success when it was released in 1998 and dubbed that year's best children's book by major newspapers.

Through interviews, the illustrator has stated that he created this first book at the age of 40 when battling leukemia. He stated that: "At that time I was scared, fragile and in despair, I didn't know what would happen to me. Drawing the book everyday became a power to sustain me and gave me more faith."

Jimmy's style is whimsical and heartwarming and he paints in bright and bold colors -- so rich that they leave deep impressions. Though one would argue that picture books are mostly for children, Mr Liao had built an adult following, myself included. Credit it all to his vivid illustrations and very emotional story telling of stories that tugs at the heart.

His appeal first crossed onto the adult readers in "Separate Ways" about a man and a woman who live in the same building but never run into other for much of the book, until a chance meeting that sees them fall for each other. It was an instant best seller and was also adopted into a movie "Turn Left, Turn Right" with one of my FAVE heart-throb, Taiwanese/Japanese actor Takeshi Kaneshiro and Hong Kong actress Gigi Leung playing Mr Liao's lonely lovers to be.

Another of his books, "Sound of Colors" about a blind girl venturing out in the city on the subway, was realized in film by Internationally acclaimed Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai. He produced the movie based on the book featuring Hong Kong star Tong Leung Chiu-wai and Miriam Yeung.

It is good to note that as his career soared, Mr. Jimmy Liao overcame leukemia to regain full health.

The site of the EXHIBITION - ESLITE BOOKSTORE (the BEST Bookstore in the World in my opinion!) right next to the Taipei 101 Building.

-Taipei Times Article