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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Culture
Self-taught artist living to paint
    2017-July-18  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

Debra Li

debra_lidan@163.com

IN a small courtyard in Songzhuang Village in Beijing’s suburbs, art critic and curator Li Xianting first met Wu Li, a young man he hailed as a “genius,” in June 2006.

“A strong smell of oil paint overwhelmed me the minute I stepped into his rented studio. The floors were covered in greasy paint and paintings occupied every inch of spare space in the rooms,” Li recalled.

The impressed curator gave the young talent a prominent position in his “Living in Songzhuang” exhibition the following year. Since then, Wu’s works have been exhibited in Taipei and Berlin apart from mainland cities and entered the collections of museums and other artists like Yue Minjun.

Saturday afternoon, dozens of water color and oil paintings, the majority created by Wu in the past two years, debuted at an exhibition in Qianhai, giving locals a glimpse of the “genius” painter’s passions for life and art.

Wu’s oil paintings, full of tension and emotion, depict the most mundane subjects of life. With no trace of modern civilization in his paintings, people can feel the vitality of the earth and plants, intoxicated with the natural way of life.

“I only paint people and things familiar to me, like my parents, my wife and kid, or the laurel tree in my yard,” he said.

“Painting is part of my life and I paint my life. When I painted my own wife and son, I poured my truest emotions into the work, freezing that moment on canvas. It’s like keeping a diary and this process makes me happy.”

Wu thinks painting begins with observing the world, but the process of creating a piece of art should be governed by one’s emotions. “It’s like an instinct. Visual art cannot lie. A sharp critic will be able to tell within 10 seconds if the artist was honest with a piece of work.”

Li once compared Wu’s painting to “strong, rich liquor extracted from life.”

One painting on show depicts five ripe persimmons hanging from a tree. “Persimmons are everywhere in North China,” Wu said. “I came upon the persimmon tree on a fall afternoon walk last year, and the way the sun rays shone on the ripe fruit immediately struck me.”

Born in 1983 in Hunan Province, Wu started painting in his early teens. Inspired by the biographies of artists he read, he decided to make painting his future career. He didn’t give up his dream even though he failed to enroll in an art college after the national college entrance exams.

“I don’t think it to my detriment that I lack a university degree in art. Isn’t it good when you can be different from others and be more faithful to yourself?” he asked.

Moving to Beijing in 2005, he rented a small courtyard with four rooms to be his studio for 4,000 yuan (US$588) a year. He lived in seclusion, eating very simple meals, spending all his time and savings on painting. Luckily for him, Taiwanese collector Xu Zhiping started to buy his paintings in 2006.

Using warm, thick and torrential colors, his oil paintings are reminiscent of Vincent van Gogh.

“I love colors extremely. But painting is not taking in everything you see. You also have to analyze and retain what touches you, and present it in a way that you think is aesthetically appealing,” he said.

Apart from oil paintings, Wu is showcasing watercolor works at the exhibition, which combine the freestyle brushwork of Chinese paintings with bold rich colors typical of Western paintings.

Time: 11:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., through Aug. 22

Venue 1: 1/F, ONE S, SPACE, 19 Vanke Enterprise Mansions, 63 Qianhai Road One, Nanshan District 前海深港合作贸易区万科企业公馆19栋前海壹会1F艺术空间

Venue 2: 1/F, C3 Space, North Area, OCT-LOFT, Nanshan District 南山区华侨城创意文化园北区C3栋一楼

Admissions free

 

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