Chen Cheng-po believes the prerequisite of a good painting is a good subject, so he would only pick up the brush after he had carefully studied the ethos and features of a place or scenery and identified favorable elements for painting. He decided on Tamsui as the subject of Hill after such a process. The painting had "Review Exemption" status and was exhibited directly at the 10th Taiwan Art Exhibition.
Tamsui Secondary School was founded by the Presbyterian Church, but the Japanese colonial government forced private schools to adopt a curriculum of assimilation education. Despite their fierce objection, the church finally submitted to pressure from the Governor-General's Office and receded the school to the Taipei State Government in 1936. Chen places this school, once the center of controversies, amidst an idyllic pastoral setting. Undulating farms along the hills bring rhythms to the picture, and a slanted dirt road divides the foreground and middle ground. The farmland and dirt roads are expressed in vivid emerald and tawny, respectively. Staffage of egrets and pedestrians help enliven the landscape. The scenery appears utterly bucolic, but the viewer's attention is directed by the pattern of the farms toward the distant woods and finally the building at the top center of the picture. The distinct brick structures and octagonal tower identify Tamsui Secondary School and allude to the significance of this scene.
Cheng-Po Chen, “Art Festival—Interview of Artists No. 10,” Taiwan Shinmin News, October 19, 1936. Now in:
Chuanying Yen ed., Landscape and the Mind—A Guided Reading on Contemporary Taiwanese Art Literature Vol. 1 (Taipei City: Lion Art Publishing, 2001), 164-165.
Huiru Cao, "A Microcosm of the Policy on Assimilation Education—Hill by Chen Cheng-Po (1936)," Art Symposium 11 (2008.09): 201-218.