An iconic nude statue that was found earlier this year after disappearing has largely been restored outside of a challenging blemish and will be displayed to the public in December at the Museum of National Taipei University of Education (MoNTUE).
The groundbreaking work, "Sweet Dew," by late Taiwanese sculptor Huang Tu-shui (???, 1895-1930) was discovered early this year by professor Lin Mun-lee (???) of National Taipei University of Education after it was last seen 50 years ago.
It has since been restored by Japanese expert Junichi Mori, who also restored Huang's "Bust of a Girl," showcased as a signature display at the MoNTUE last year in an exhibition called "The Everlasting Bloom," curated by Lin.
It took Mori more than six months to remove some of the dirt and stains that covered the statue despite it being well-preserved in a wooden case for the last 50 years.
Local media were able to see how far the restoration has come at a press conference Thursday as well as the challenge that still remains: removing a blue ink stain visible on the statue's groin area.
Lin said the stain may have been left as a prank. At that time, the marble statue was regarded as a Japanese colonial legacy that was not welcome after the Republic of China took over Taiwan.
Its nudity was also deemed obscene, which might account for the splash of the ink, Lin said.
Unfortunately, the ink could not be completely removed with existing technologies because it has seeped into and bonded with the stone over the many decades since it was tarnished, Mori said.
For the upcoming exhibition, removable marble powder will be used to cover the inconvenient stain and "restore the way Huang would have wanted his work to be seen," while the restoration team continues to look for better technologies to "return the statue to her original form," Lin said.
"We really don't want her to be displayed with a stain," Lin said, "but the stain is also a part of history to be remembered."
Sweet Dew is set to go on display starting on Dec. 18 in a show that runs through April 2022.
Created in 1919, the sculpture, called "Gan Lushui" (???) in Chinese, was Huang's second work to be displayed at the third Imperial Art Exhibition in Japan, the most prestigious art event there at the time.
Praised as Taiwan's Venus, the 1.75 meter tall marble sculpture portrays a young woman with a calm yet confident countenance, standing upright with her head tilted slightly backwards and both hands holding either side of a large shell behind her.
It was moved back to Taiwan after Huang died of peritonitis at the age of 35 and later collected by the Taiwan Education Association in 1931 during the period of Japanese colonial rule.
After the end of Japan's rule in 1945, the Taiwan Representative Council was founded at the same site as the Taiwan Education Association and took over its collections, including Sweet Dew.
When the council was moved to Taichung in 1958, the sculpture was moved as well but later abandoned at the Taichung Railway station for unknown reasons, according to the Ministry of Culture.
The work was saved, however, by a local family surnamed Chang and kept in the nearby family clinic, though it was later moved to a factory in Wufeng, Taichung, in 1974, where it remained in the family's hands until being discovered by professor Lin, according to the ministry.
The statue was later donated to the culture ministry by the Chang family, who did not ask for compensation, in a ceremony witnessed by President Tsai Ing-wen (???) in September 2021.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel