By Curator Yang Wei
Yuan Wu’s works portray many pilgrims to the Jokhang Temple in Tibet. These Tibetan pilgrims hold the good faith in their hearts and close their hands many a time to pray during their long journey to the holy land. It is from these faithful people that Yuan Wu gained the power of transcendence and the confidence to express. His brushstrokes become dramatically full of strength and amazement. Faith undoubtedly enlightened Yuan Wu and gave him the forcefulness and naturalness in painting to possess certain unworldly ability to penetrate. In other words, Yuan’s pursuit of the truth brings his artistic exploration to the depth of religion and thereby to reveal certain nature of life as it is.
A hundred years ago, the Chinese educator Cai Yuanpei advocated the doctrine of “education of beauty instead of religion”. This was vehemently supported by artists like Xu Beihong. They set out to overhaul traditional Chinese painting techniques and gave it a new realistic tradition. Later development, however, did not allow this realism for the purpose of enlightenment to continue, but let realism for reality to take its place and even to be exploited by ideology. This new tradition of the painting was then exhausted and became an empty form. The intentional painting which pursues pure formal beauty opened the veil for the era of new art and further marginalizes this tradition. Yuan Wu integrates various elements of the realistic and the expressive painting language to reconstruct the origin of expressiveness of the new ink and wash painting. The artist gains spiritual power from religion and not only reconnects the intercepted tradition of new ink and wash, but more importantly, he infuses new spiritual content to the current reality that has been exhausted by materialism in the society.
About the exhibition
Opening: 4:30pm, 18 January, 2015
Duration: 2015.01.18 — 2015.03.08
Location: 2nd floor exhibition hall of Building No.2, Today Art Museum
Courtesy of the artist and Today Art Museum, for further information please visit www.todayartmuseum.com.