Human Figure Paintings

Wu Shan-ming (b. 1941)
Picking Wild Tea

Hanging Scroll, Chinese Ink on Rice Paper, 26 7/8 x 26 7/8 in., (68.25 x 68.25 cm.)

Chu Griffis Collection #106In this group of eight figural paintings, half of them represent a traditional way of painting. Professor Wu's work is different in style and manner. This free sketch delineates facial and bodily forms reminding us of the artist Liang K'ai of Southern Sung Dynasty (1127-1279) who broke with the exquisitely drawn lines popular in the previous era. Liang K'ai used a bold brush to catch the spirit of the figure disregarding precise details. Mr. Wu offers his more modern version.

Looking at this painting, we almost see Mr. Wu at work. His brush dances, his ink flows as if he is writing the picture - free, natural and effortless. Technically, it is not as easy as that. Professor Wu, Chairman of the Department of Chinese Painting at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Hang-chou, South China, has gone through socialist realism to this innovation. During the past twenty-five years, he constantly tries new ways to manipulate his brush to make subjects powerful, graceful and natural. He devises new ways of using ink - fresh ink, old ink and even gouache to create a new look. The graded lines give a depth to his dimensions. His paintings are shown the world over.

In October of 1998, through a friend who had probably told Professor Wu about the purpose of our collection, I visited his home. When I decided to choose this painting and asked how much I should pay, he simply said "I would like to give it to you." At first speechless, I could only ask him to inscribe it to the college. He did. I was touched.