WU CHING JU 吳靜茹
Contemporary Chinese sculptor Wu Ching Ju merges Eastern and Western culture to create powerful yet intrinsically delicate works. Many think that Wu Ching Ju combines the rigidness and coldness of bronze with the gentleness and beauty of human nature in a perfect way. The sculptures of Wu Ching Ju are another valuable exploration of the idea: to make the past serve the present and let Western aesthetics serve the East.
Chinese, b. 1961
Born in the urban township of Fonglin, in the Huatung Valley of eastern Taiwan, Wu Ching Ju (吳靜茹) learned at an early age of the ancient traditions of China. After secondary education became particularly interested in the art of flower arranging, with its emphasis on simplicity, elegance and harmony.
After 16 years of village life that taught her love and respect for her ancestors and for all living things, Wu moved with her family to Taipei, Taiwan and studied design and oriental humanities. Soon after her marriage, she moved to the U.S. where she began to express herself through painting and calligraphy. During those years, Wu began to understand the difference between Eastern and Western aesthetics, and she decided to make a new kind of Chinese beauty - one that could be touched. “I use the simplest lines from Chinese paintings in my sculptures, allowing these lines to manifest in the bronzes,” she explains.
In 1993, Wu moved to the Netherlands, where she studied Western techniques of painting, sculpting and bronze casting. Her first exhibitions in the West all sold out and in 1996 she became a full-time sculptor. Very early in her career in Europe, she was discovered by Halcyon Galleries of London, one of the world’s top art houses. Being the only contracted female and Chinese artist out of a selected group of twenty artists, Wu has ever since enjoyed professional coaching and support from Halcyon Galleries and through this lasting cooperation. Wu’s works can be found in private homes and gardens on every continent.
In her ‘Mother and Child’ series of bronzes, Wu celebrated motherhood, focusing also on what it is like to be an orphan. Herself far from home, she felt impelled to take back to her own people and culture what she had learned, to create a bridge of communication between East and West.
Another public installation in Shanghai, the “Fountain of Blessings”, has become the most popular sculpture of the city since its unveiling in 2008. This sculpture, in many ways, merges Oriental tradition with Western styling and techniques and Wu’s talent of infusing emotions in rigid materials.
Wu has held over 40 exhibitions in Europe and Asia. Her sculptures sensuously abstract the Western figurative dimension from the traditional form, while reaching new levels of expression. ‘Emotions play an important part in my work’, she says. ‘Serenity, modesty, sadness, tranquility and joy feature prominently.’ Her subjects reflect her passion for Chinese history, legend and religion, ranging from the austere monk and his followers to powerful members of the imperial household, Quintessentially Eastern in her approach, she explains, ‘I become entirely engrossed in my subject … I shut out the outside world which, in oriental philosophy, is extremely important. Only when you can completely concentrate are you at peace with yourself.’
There are several significant collections of Wu’s work across the world, including those established in the United Kingdom, continental Europe, the Middle East and East Asia. Eight monumental and life-size works of hers are on permanent display in museums in China.
Now back in the land of her ancestors, Wu has created Pro Terra et Natura (2011) , a 13-meter high installation, for the Lu Jia Zui Central Park in the financial district of Shanghai. Calling for an awareness of what is happening to Mother Earth and Mother Nature, this sculpture is a synthesis of her love and respect for motherhood and the natural world.
Since 2012, Wu Ching Ju has devoted herself in the creation of works that mirror a path to free oneself from all that is distracting in one’s life. Inspired by Zen philosophy, with her lifetime exploration and pursuit, Wu Ching Ju endeavors to capture the enlightenment and emotional stages with her works of one’s path in search for the true self. Since November 2015, The Beyond Zen works are permanently on display in London, at Halcyon Galleries in New Bond Street and Harrods, Knightsbridge.
The artist’s perception of Zen is not necessarily religious. Zen, as she believes, is about becoming free of negative influences of the world around. At this time (2015), Wu’s Beyond Zen oeuvre consists of 18 bronzes. Major exhibitions are planned in Europe and Asia. The first will be hosted in Shenzhen, China from December 2015 until January 2016, in collaboration with China’s leading art magazine.
Upcoming Exhibitions and Events
Solo Exhibition, Wu Ching Ju “Beyond Zen”, Shenzhen, Dec.12.2015 – Jan.12.2016
Exhibition Location: QianHai Business Building 23, Timi Art Space, QianWan Road 1, ShenZhen
Past Exhibitions and events
Art Shanghai, Shanghai, 2011 - 2012.
Inauguration Exhibition, Halcyon Galleries, Shanghai, 2011.
“Impressionists - Master’s Exhibition”, IFC, Shanghai, 2010.
Participation in the 2010 Royal Parks Deckchair programme:
exhibits in London (Royal Parks) and Shanghai (Botanical Gardens), Aug 2010.
Art Shanghai, (Levant Gallery), 2009.
Shanghai Municipal Invitation: 8th Sculpture Exhibition, Nanjing Road, (Levant Gallery), Aug - Nov, 2008.
Sculpture Exhibition, Halcyon Galleries, London, 2008.
Shanghai Art Fair, (Levant Gallery), 2008.
Solo Exhibition, Xin Tian Di, Shanghai, (Levant Gallery), Sep 2007.
Solo Exhibition, Shanghai, (Levant Art Gallery), Nov - Dec 2006.
Solo Exhibition, Sotheby’s, Amsterdam, Nov 2006.
Mayfair London, Halcyon Galleries, May 2006.
Biennial Urban Sculpture Exhibition, Shanghai Intern, (Levant Gallery), Dec 2005 - Mar 2006.
"100 Years Collection of Shanghai City", Shanghai Sculpture Centre, Nov 2005 - Mar 2006.
Mayfair London, Halcyon Galleries, Sep 2005.
The Figurative Collection, ICC Birmingham, Sep 2004.
Harrods, Knightsbridge, London, Jun 2004.
“Art of Living", Harrods, London, 2003.
Castle "Steenhout", Vollezele, Belgium, 2002.
Solo Exhibition, Artea, Bergen, the Netherlands, 2002.
Solo Exhibition, Sotheby's, Amsterdam, 2001.
Algemeen Burgelijk Pensioenfonds, Holland, 2001.
Bogaard Art, Helmond, Holland, 2001 - 2003.
Solo Exhibition, Holland Casino, Valkenburg, 2001.
Holland Art Fair, The Hague, Holland, 1999 - 2002.
Gallery John Falle Fine Art, Guernsey, 2000.
International Art Fair Knokke, Belgium, 2000, 2002.
Holland Art Fair, Utrecht, Holland, 2000.
Lineart Gent, Belgium, 1999 - 2000.
Autotron Art Fair, Rosmalen, Holland, 1999 - 2000.
Solo Exhibition, De Oranjerie, Joure, Holland, 2000.
Solo Exhibition, Gallery MAS, Kalmthout, Belgium, 2000.
Solo Exhibition, La Butte aux Bois, Lanaken, Belgium, 1998, 2000.
Solo Exhibition, Gallery A. Gidding, The Hague, Holland, 1999.
Solo Exhibition, J. van Rijn, Fine Art, Meerssen, Holland, 1999.
Solo Exhibition, De Herckenrode Hoeve, Heers, Belgium, 1999.