Zee Stone

"Perfect Blue"

- Ink and colour paintings by Wu Yang

20 May - 6 June 2001

Elegant beauties portrayed against the background of the peaceful gardens or pavilions of Jiangnan, in a perfectly balanced composition, and with an unerring eye for harmonies of colour, are the hallmarks of the works of Wu Yang. The beauty of woman is Wu Yang's main subject. All the ladies portrayed, either alone or in pairs, share the same elegant, heart-shaped faces with almond eyes and rosebud lips. The eyebrows and nose are drawn in a single, delicate line. But this face is deceptive in its simplicity: for Wu Yang, she is the ideal universal woman, only achieved after years of striving to arrive at such perfection.

Wu Yang was born in Hangzhou in 1970, the son of Wu Shen Ming, an artist known for his traditional Chinese figure paintings. In 1992, he graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, where he studied traditional Chinese painting. Wu admires the landscape paintings of the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1279-1368) dynasties for both their sophisticated techniques and their spirituality; he is also drawn to the primitive cave paintings of Dunhuang, as seen in his use of different wash techniques that give the illusion of texture in his paintings. Yet Wu Yang is also influenced by Western art, especially Matisse, Picasso and Gustav Klimt, who also stressed the allure and mystery of womanhood in his work. Critics have compared Wu's images of Oriental ladies with Modigliani's nudes. Wu currently works as a professional artist at the Xileng Fine Art Institute in Hangzhou.

Wu Yang's latest works represent a synthesis of Western and Oriental influences. While his simple, fluent lines are reminiscent of Matisse and his composition frequently shows a Cubist influence, the inspiration of the paintings is firmly Chinese. Western viewers may question the lack of expression in his inscrutable faces, but Wu feels these peaceful images perfectly reflect Chinese culture. He does not want to rely on the expression of the face to show emotions; rather, he aims to use the painting as a whole to convey his feelings. Not only is each delicate, refined lady a symbol encapsulating Oriental beauty, but Wu extends symbolism further in his attempt to make her convey the whole spectrum of Chinese culture and philosophy.