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Chinese artist adds color to traditional painting style

By BO LEUNG | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-09-25 17:41

Chinese artist adds color to traditional painting style

A painting from Wu Ke's Another Shan Shui show. [Photo/China Daily]

Work by Chinese artist Wu Ke is the subject of a London exhibition for the first time. Visitors can see his contemporary twist on the shanshui style of Chinese landscape painting.

Shanshui, which is translated as mountain water, is one of the most well-known forms of Chinese ink painting and a style that rose to prominence in the 5th century, during the Song Dynasty (420-479).

Wu presents 30 pieces created between 2015 and 2017 in Another Shan Shui in the Cookhouse Gallery at Chelsea College of Arts.

In addition to the exhibition being the artist's first London showing, the paintings have not been displayed in China.

"For this particular overseas exhibition, I took a risk and applied some bold and vivid colors that I have rarely used before," Wu said. "I have also made some changes in some structures and patterns."

Born and raised in Shanghai, Wu paints images of a rural nature, which organizers of the exhibition say are visually and philosophically as far from the bustling, urban iconography of Shanghai as can be imagined.

Wu said he believes the understanding and perspective many people in Western countries have of traditional Chinese paintings could be better.

"Some people believe Chinese traditional ink paintings are only in black and white and that conveys quite a negative feeling," Wu said.

The 48-year-old wants to change the view as "Chinese traditional paintings contain a large degree of traditional philosophy, literature, and arts".

"You need a bit of background knowledge to understand Chinese painting," he said. "This time, in order to give Western audiences a different impression, I tried my best to bring old, traditional elements together with modern colors, so this bold marriage can give new understanding and opinions on Chinese paintings."

Wu started learning Chinese ink painting in 1986 and graduated from East China Normal University after studying fine art. He went on to study shanshui under Shi Chan and Huang Azhong, where he explored the skills and the artistic conception of the traditional art form.

Through the use of ink and brush, Wu presents an individual understanding of nature, mindset, and emotions through imagined landscapes.

Wu said he welcomes any feedback about his work because "art is always on the road, so we need to keep improving it and gradually make it even more perfect".

The exhibition ends on Tuesday.

Zhang Yangfei contributed to this story

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