Flowers, Insects, and Bird Paintings

Wang Ya-chen (1892-1996)

Framed, Ink and Color on Rice Paper, 25.5 x 15.75 in., (65 x 40 cm.)

Chu Griffis Collection #78Wang is the only artist in our collection who has lived for one hundred and five years. He died in April, 1996 in Shanghai after suffering a stroke in August, 1995.

Wang started to paint at the age of nine and painted all of his life. For the first thirty years he painted oils. After 1949 he switched to Chinese ink and watercolors in traditional styles. This he did by studying Sung and Yuan masters without the benefit of contemporary teachers. His first traditional paintings were in the manner of these artists, then he developed his individual style. Influenced by Western artists, Wang uses brilliant colors and quick, bold strokes.

Our painting is a good example of this spontaneity. The orchid is a wild species which grows by streams, not the cultivated kind found in the study of a scholar. Wang wants to portray naturalness, freshness and energy. People who knew him describe his personality as romantic and gentle. He, himself, said, "Under my brush I prefer bold strokes. I use color in a forceful and carefree manner -- not using many colors, but variations of one color."

Mr. Wang was born near Shanghai in Tai Tsang to a well-to-do family. Through wars, revolutions and political hardships he sought new directions in art. In 1981 on the occasion of his nintieth birthday, he gave an exhibit in Shanghai which stimulated national and international interest. At his one hundredth birthday exhibit he was even more celebrated. In 1991, he was lavishly welcomed in the United States by art dealers, fellow artists and admirers and in 1995, a museum was built in Shanghai to honor Wang Ya-chen, a tribute to a man of integrity and his goals in the art world.

This painting was purchased in 1996 with funds provided by George Jagger and George Willauer.