When the rigidness was undone, my mind opened; what was hard and frozen became soft, and then there came the warmth of understanding and the sense of meaning of all. During this time of soul searching I had practiced Zen inspired meditation and while I felt enlightened I had the imense desire to share these amazing emotions of absolute inner peace and balance through my art. I knew then that I just had to capture these feelings and the road to enlightenment in new works, so I could share. I never had experienced such a strong motivation before and I am grateful that I have been given the opportunity to share such inspirations through my art.
There was a time not too long ago that I came to feel that something important in my life had gone missing. This feeling became stronger and stronger and then, one day I realized that my life had reached a crossroad where I had to decide which path to take . From my upbringing I knew that I had to search within to find my true self. The true self, we believe, is an everlasting unique part of everything that we call Nature or the Universe. I knew that I needed to be as close to nature as possible and I left the clutter of my daily life behind for as long as it would take. Doing so, the moment came that I managed to let go, the body and mind softened; and I could see the whole world again, a beautiful one like the one that I experienced it in early life.
There are times when we feel like we’re walking on a seesaw, trying to balance off the right and wrong hanging from each side of the ends without falling over. Therefore, at the end of each day, we dust off the weights we picked up along the day, shifting back step by step to the middle of the path; we reset, that we may refresh.
如 醒 II
如 醒 II
A master wrote “People usually consider walking on water or on thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or on thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in miracles which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the curious eyes of a child, our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” There is much unawareness and uncertainty in our life and life is also filled with randomness and wonder. Therefore, for our souls to be free and awake, we must explore our inner self and cultivate what we find to fill our lost selves with enlightenment.
Ultimately, enlightenment is about coming face-to-face with yourself, in a very direct and intimate way. This is certainly not easy to accomplish.
I have endeavoured to capture in this sculpture that enlightened sense of such accomplishment focusing on serene tranquillity.
At times, what we perceive from the universe can be overwhelming; it is easy to be submerged in fear. Now we set our foot in the world with a pure heart and soul, the universe in return graces us with a shelter that creates boundless beauty and elegance. Our journey is then peaceful and steady, strengthened and fearless
Be it a mirror image or a piece of shadow, there are multiple channels that leave us an opportunity to self reflect, explore, and most of all, converse with ourselves from time to time. We think, whisper and listen to our deepest parts, grasping the essence that forms the backbones of our lives that we’ve came to recognize.
Many a time, distractions flood over composure, what is leftover, is a restless heart and an eagerness to prove ourselves worthy, often arrogantly. Only through humility and a willingness to receive, do we keep ourselves poised and fulfilled.
TEN THOUSAND BLOSSOMS
LIST OF WORKS
A FREED MIND
SPIRIT OF THE LOTUS
THE VOICES OF THE SOUL
TEN THOUSAND BLOSSOMS
A Freed Mind (57 cm) Bronze Edition of 8 58 × 56 × 19 cm A Freed Mind (80 cm) Bronze Edition of 8 77 × 17 × 69 cm A Freed Mind (112 cm) Bronze Edition of 8 109 × 105 × 25 cm
Endless (54 cm) Bronze Edition: 20 54 × 20 × 16 cm Endless II (58 cm) Bronze Editions: 12 58 × 18 × 12 cm Endless (160 cm) Bronze Edition: 8 157 × 41 × 44 cm
Enlightenment (70 cm) Bronze Edition of 8 69 × 35 × 25 cm Enlightenment (105 cm) Bronze Edition of 8 110 × 60 × 25 cm Enlightenment (145 cm) Bronze Edition of 8 49 × 66 × 40 cm Enlightenment II (170 cm) Bronze Edition of 8 214 × 45 × 50 cm
Bronze Edition of 8 72 × 76 × 42 cm
Spirit of the Lotus (71 cm) Bronze Edition of 36 71 × 36 × 17 cm Spirit of the Lotus (102CM) Bronze Edition of 8 105 × 55 × 40 cm Spirit of the Lotus (200 cm) Bronze Edition of 8 185 × 85 × 78 cm
The Voices of the Soul (85 cm) Bronze
Edition of 8 (Set of 2) Each 83 × 35 × 32 cm
The Voices of the Soul (122 cm) Bronze
Edition of 8 (Set of 2) Left 112 × 35 × 30 cm Right 112 × 35 × 36 cm
作 品 清 单
禪 系 列
禪 系 列
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 – Wu Ching Ju Wu moved to the United States from Taipei in the late 1980s. It was whilst living here that she began to express herself through painting and calligraphy. She found herself in a vastly different world from that which she had become so familiar with; practicing traditional Chinese art forms allowed her a connection to her ancestors, her past and her heritage. During these years in her continued exploration of painting and calligraphy, Wu began to appreciate the difference between Eastern and Western aesthetics. The blending of the two cultures fascinated the young artist, inspiring her to create a new kind of Chinese beauty, and giving it a three-dimensional form by using the Western techniques of bronze casting. Wu Ching Ju combines the rigid properties of bronze with the delicate beauty of human nature in a poignant and harmonious way. After developing her bronze work and establishing her signature technique in the application of the patina, the artist felt compelled to take her art back to her own people and culture, to show what she had learnt and to create a bridge of communication between the East and West. There are many traditional influences and motifs apparent in Wu Ching Ju’s sculptures. Though some are clearly visible, others are more elusive, hiding under the surface and expressing themselves in a more subtle way. In Zen, ensō is a circle that is hand drawn in one or two uninhibited brushstrokes to express a moment when the mind is free to let the body create. It symbolises absolute enlightenment, strength, elegance and the universe. The ensō can either be open or closed; in the former case the circle is incomplete, signifying the allowance for movement and development. Zen practitioners relate the idea to wabi-sabi, the beauty of imperfection. When the circle is closed, it represents absolute perfection, akin to Plato’s perfect form. Circles are a recurring theme in Wu’s sculptures, appearing in various forms in many of the Beyond Zen works. I use the simplest lines from Chinese paintings in my sculptures, allowing these lines to manifest in the bronzes. – Wu Ching Ju
Lush green forests, laced with streams and interspersed with villages, provide the backdrop to the urban township of Fenglin, the most central community in the East Rift Valley in Taiwan. People here enjoy a slow pace of life surrounded by winding country lanes, vast rural scenery and a skyline flecked with mountains. This is where Wu Ching Ju was born and raised, spending the first sixteen years of her life in a small village. From an early age she was taught about the ancient traditions of China, with respect for her ancestors and love for all living things at its core. The young Wu Ching Ju took a particular interest in the meditative art of flower arranging, with its emphasis on simplicity, elegance and harmony; this practice still clearly influences the appearance of her bronze sculptures today. The fundamental elements of traditional Chinese flower arranging shares roots with the Japanese art of Ikebana, which originally began to permeate the Northern and Southern Dynasties when Buddhism began to spread through China. More than simply arranging flowers in a container, Ikebana is a disciplined art form in which nature and humanity are brought together. It is a time to appreciate things in nature that people often overlook because of their busy lives; one becomes more patient and tolerant of differences and imperfections. Beyond Zen is a collection of eighteen bronze sculptures inspired by Zen philosophy and the artist’s lifetime exploration and pursuit of enlightenment, aswell as the emotional stages along the path to finding the true self . This latest body of work skilfully captures the intangible concept of the spiritual journey in the hard and unpredictable material of bronze. Wu’s perception of Zen is not necessarily religious. Instead, the artist identifies with the concept on a deeply personal level. Her interpretation is focused on becoming free of negative influences from the world around us, culminating in the true self becoming free from all that which is not essential.
Example of Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging.
Wu Ching Ju, Endless , 2014 Bronze on granite
Zen encourages rigorous self-reflection through the practice of meditation. Although its roots are based in South East Asia and India, it has gained popularity in recent years in much of the wider Western world, with many non-Buddhists taking up meditation. Buddhist meditation encompasses a variety of techniques that aim to develop mindfulness, concentration, tranquillity, and insight. Specific Buddhist meditation techniques have also been used to remove unwholesome qualities thought to be impediments to spiritual liberation, nurturing loving kindness in order to remove ill-will, hate, anger, equanimity to remove mental clinging, and reflection on impermanence. This collection of works is about the journey to Zen, but also the presence of its manifestation after the pursuance; Beyond Zen.
It is clear to see Wu’s accomplished understanding of bronze as a medium. Many of her sculptures appear almost weightless, effortlessly balancing their weight on a proportionately small contact point between the bronze and its stone plinth. We are reminded of a ballerina en pointe in her pieces Enlightenment II and Endless , in which the figurative forms appear to float; a moment of movement caught in time. The young Wu dreamed of one day becoming a dancer and though her family’s financial situation could not allow this, she has continued to allow her enchantment with the art form to guide her sculpting. Her fascination with dance and movement is plain to see throughout the l collection and is also a subject that captured the attention of master sculptor Auguste Rodin: ‘There are unknown forces in nature; when we give ourselves wholly to her, without reserve, she lends them to us; she shows us these forms, which our watching eyes do not see, which our intelligence does not understand or suspect.’ Rodin was obsessed with depicting the natural movement of the body and sought to capture the body in motion, rather than work from rigid academic poses common in classical sculpture. His passionate love of dance is given form through his desire to embody the impulses of the soul through physical movement. Late in his life Rodin described his methods to author Paul Gsell: ‘As for me, seeker after truth and student of life as I am … I take from life the movements I observe, but it is not I who impose them. Even when a subject which I’m working on compels me to ask a model for a certain fixed pose, I indicate it to him, but I carefully avoid touching him to place him in the position, for I will reproduce only what reality spontaneously offers me. I obey Nature in everything, and I never pretend to command her. My only ambition is to be servilely faithful to her.’
Nakahara Nantenbo Ensō , 1922 Ink on washi paper
Emotions play an important part in my work. Serenity, modesty, sadness, tranquillity and joy feature prominently . – Wu Ching Ju
Auguste Rodin Femme Accroupie , 1906-1908 bronze
Each piece in this collection has influences that draw upon forms occurring in nature, creating an unlikely dialogue between the cold man-made material and the intangible essence at the heart of the sculpture’s conception. The artist deliberately chose to work in a form that can be placed either inside or outside, cementing the works’ coexistence with the world around us. Often, Wu’s sculptures feature windows and openings which allow the pieces to develop a further relationship with their settings, almost merging together as one.
Auguste Rodin Iris messagère des Dieux , 1906-1908 bronze
Wu Ching Ju Enlightenment , 2014 Bronze on granite
For Wu Ching Ju, the process of sculpting is a personal meditation and a form of self-reflection, and so too can the viewer experience a moment of calm in the presence of these serene sculptures. Intentionally created so the figures have an anonymous (and usually androgynous) identity, they allow anyone to have a deeply personal connection to them. The sculptures provide amoment of contemplation that is essential in the hustle and bustle of modern-day life, if for a brief point in time. With various influences from both historic and current concepts, these abstracted figurative bronzes hold a unique place within the canon of contemporary Chinese sculpture. Be it a mirror image or a shadow, there are multiple channels that give us an opportunity to self-reflect, explore, and most of all, converse with ourselves from time to time. We think, whisper and listen to our deepest emotions, grasping the essence that forms the backbones of our lives that we’ve come to recognise . - Wu Ching Ju
禪 系 列
Wu Ching Ju Dutch-Chinese, b. 1961
being a celebration of motherhood, also highlights what it is like to be an orphan, reflecting on both her own childhood and a career that has taken her far from home. Her sculptures sensitively abstract Western figurative sculpture from its traditional form, while reaching new levels of expression. ‘Emotions play an important part in my work’, she says. ‘Serenity, modesty, sadness, tranquillity and joy feature prominently.’ While her subjects clearly reflect her passion for Chinese history, legend and religion, her process, she explains, closely engages with it too. She says, ‘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.’ In 2011, Wu Ching Ju created Pro Terra et Natura for significant public placement in the Lu Jia Zui Central Park in the financial district of Shanghai. The fifteen-metre-high installation was chosen from over 300 proposals for a monumental work of art to be placed in the green oasis at the base of three
sculpting and bronze casting. Her first exhibitions in the West all sold out and in 1996 she became a full-time sculptor. Now, Wu’s work can be found in private homes and gardens on every continent. Very early on in her career in Europe, Wu was signed to Halcyon Gallery, London. She has held over 50 exhibitions in Europe and Asia. 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 works of hers are on permanent display in museums in China and 11 monumental public sculptures have been installed on 3 continents. Her success in Europe and subsequent displacement from home is often reflected in both the form and subjects of her work. She felt impelled to take what she had learnt in Europe back to her own culture and to create a bridge of communication between East and West. For example, Fountain of Blessings , a public installation in Xintiandi Shanghai, merges oriental tradition with Western style and technique. The artist’s Mother and Child series of bronzes, as well as
Wu Ching Ju was born on 17 August, 1961, in the urban township of Fenglin in the Huatung Valley of Eastern Taiwan. She learnt about the ancient traditions of China from an early age, above all, to love and respect her ancestors and all living things. After secondary education, she became particularly interested in the art of flower arranging, with its emphasis on simplicity, elegance and harmony. Wu moved with her family to Taipei, Taiwan, and studied design and oriental humanities. Soon after her marriage, she moved to the United States, where she began to express herself through painting and calligraphy. During those years, Wu began to explore the differences between Eastern and Western aesthetics and she was inspired to create a new kind of Chinese beauty, giving it a three-dimensional form by using the Western technique of bronze casting. ‘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,
吳 靜 茹
In 2016 and 2017, Wu’s work featured in the China Art Museum, a museum of modern Chinese art located in Shanghai and one of the largest art museums in Asia. During the 2017 BRICS international relations summit in Xiamen China, the Chinese government brought together a number of outstanding works covering an 800 year period of Chinese art. The collection featured Wu’s one-and-a-half-metre bronze sculpture Endless , from the Beyond Zen series, marking a major milestone in her career. Wu Ching Ju now works mostly from her studio located in the mountains near where she grew up in the Huatung Valley. In this picturesque environment in the midst of nature, she continues to create powerful yet intrinsically delicate works, merging influences from both Chinese and Western cultures.
of the most imposing skyscrapers in China. Pro Terra et Natura features two winged mythical figures, representing Mother Earth and Nature, and raises awareness of the deteriorating state of the natural environment. The installation of the sculpture coincided with major exhibitions of the artist’s work in China in 2011 and is now recognised as an official landmark of the city. Drawing on the artist’s lifetime love of nature, Pro Terra et Natura captures serenity, hope and harmony to convey an important message through its impressive monumental form. Since 2012, inspired by Zen philosophy, Wu Ching Ju has devoted herself to creating works that capture the pursuit of enlightenment and the search for the true self, freed from modern life’s distractions. Her perception of Zen is not necessarily religious, instead, the artist identifies with the concept on a deeply personal level. This philosophy is represented in her body of work called Beyond Zen , which featured in Halcyon Gallery’s 2017 summer exhibition, Water and Bronze . This latest body of work skilfully captures the intangible concept of the spiritual journey in the hard and unpredictable material of bronze.
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Artist Manager: Helga Nel Artist Manager Assistant: Millie Gambold Graphic Designer: Beth Hayes Photography: Su Guo Chi, Hualien Ingmar Chen, New York James Mogie, Halcyon Gallery, London Peter Mallet, London