Contemporary Chinese painter and sculptor Wu Ching Ju was born in the tranquil rural setting of Fonglin, Taiwan. She grew up fascinated by the ancient traditions of China and, after secondary school, went on to study oriental humanities. She soon became interested in the traditional art of flower arranging, embracing the disciplines of simplicity, elegance and harmony, which are essential ingredients of ancient Chinese culture and spiritual well-being.
Meeting her Dutch husband-to-be at the age of 22, Wu Ching Ju moved from Taiwan to America, where her husband had been assigned to work. A chance meeting with an elderly Taiwanese friend of the family in LA led to Wu Ching Ju being introduced to an old Chinese artist who encouraged her to start drawing and painting, as well as teaching her about ancient Chinese culture and legends.
Moving back to Taiwan in the late 80s, she became known for the art of her flower arranging. In 1993, she moved to Holland, enrolling in art classes in Maastricht to master western techniques. From here, she was introduced to the discipline of sculpture, which she fell in love with immediately. Finding an artesian caster in Belgium enabled her to finish the cast herself, from sanding and polishing to patination, which she believes is an integral part of the sculpture process.
Wu Ching Ju’s excitement stems from fusing Chinese with Western culture and, in her sympathetic hands, the Western figurative dimension is abstracted from the traditional form harmoniously and sensuously, honouring Chinese values and at the same time taking it forward to new levels of expression. The rhythmic vitality in her work represents pulses of life, like a heartbeat. She finds inspiration in the history, legends and religions of China, from the worldly royal households of the emperors of China to the spiritual side of the poor monk and his followers.
Commenting on her work, she says, “Emotions play an important part in my work. With each statue or painting I try to express a feeling, with serenity, modesty, sadness, tranquility and joy featuring prominently in my work. Once I start drawing the first lines of my sketches I become completely engrossed in my subject. If it is a statue, I then model the figure using wax. Only when I am completely satisfied do I make the trip to the foundry to have my work cast in bronze. I am able to completely shut out the outside world, which, in oriental philosophy, is extremely important. Only when you can completely concentrate are you at peace with yourself, enabling you to discover who you really are.”
Wu Ching Ju lives in Maastricht with her Dutch husband Paul and their children Floris and Carol.