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Retrospective exhibition of the work of Walasse Ting opens at Kwai Fung Hin Art Gallery
Eat Me, I'm a Fish, 1978. Acrylic on Canvas, 126.5 x 177cm.

HONG KONG.- This exhibition is one of the associated projects of Le French May, featuring 20 pieces of works of world-known artist Walasse Ting (1928-2010) from the period between 1968-1990, including early ink painting and the famous acrylic works in 80s and 90s. This retrospective exhibition review the passionate and uninhibited artistic life.

Claiming himself “Flowers Thief”, Ting loved to draw women, flowers, birds and animals. Bold colours and strong visual tension are the vivid imprint of his creation, while food and women are the main source of his inspiration. Regardless of the locations, Ting made painting every day. In the eighty-year life, Ting infused all of his passion and energy into his paintings.

Born in 1928 in Wuxi, China, Ting was grown up in Shanghai. He had enrolled in the Shanghai Art College. Yet the young and talented Ting could not adapt the standard and routine college education, he moved to Hong Kong at the age of seventeen. In 1952, he sailed for Paris, which the wonderful artistic life of Ting thus commenced.

The Paris period
Ting was twenty years old when he arrived Paris. He became acquainted with artists engaged in the anti-formalist movement CoBRA, such as Karel Appel, Asger Jorn, Pierre Alechinsky and Corneille. They had jointly organized a number of exhibitions. Strongly affected by Matisse and other masters, he started to create works with unexpected force and flying emotions. His works were mainly plain black abstract work made up of Chinese cursive calligraphy lines and strong block of black. Any realistic figurative expression is all omitted. Ting purely used lines and structure to reveal his deep emotions. The use of ink implied a strong Oriental spiritual connotation. In 1954, Ting held his very first solo exhibition in Paul Fachetti Gallery in Paris, and was widely accepted by the art circle in France. Those days were very crucial because the art movements gave an unprecedented impact to Ting, while the freedom of creation let him honestly express himself through art.

New York Period
Ting went to New York in 1958, a time when Abstract Expressionism was at its peak in the 1960s and Pop Art was brewing in. He became friends with Abstract artist Sam Francis, Pop artist Andy Warhol and some other important figures at that time. Being inspired by the Abstract Expressionism, while exploring the fusion of Chinese and Western aesthetics, Ting started to develop a series of abstract expressionist style creation. He spilt and dripped paint on canvas and used bright and strong colours instead of black. It marked the first significant change on his art.

Established signature style in 1980s
Ting established his signature style in 1980s. He became independent from all of the schools and infused more Oriental aesthetic concept to his works. He applied acrylic paint directly onto rice paper. With expressive dripping strokes and bright fluorescent colours, the women, flowers, parrots, horses and fish are energetic, passionate and sensational in his paintings. Claiming himself “Flowers thief”, Ting honestly express his fascination of the female body in his paintings. He depicted women’s beauty and tenderness in a liberating way, together with the birds and flowers, the paintings evoked a sense of spring.

In addition to woman, the flowers, parrots, horses and fish, as well as the landscape, also elude the fragrance of blossoms of spring from the paintings. For example, the ordinary objects in the painting Still Life with Parrot and Watermelon (page 1) became vivid and dreamy under the ink-wash like brushstrokes and brilliant colours. The unique blend of colours give a fresh aroma to the typical still life painting.

Ting once said, “ When I see a beautiful woman I see flowers. Its beauty makes me feel intangible, melancholy, love, refreshed, different and reborn. I want to use different colours to express my inner feelings and emotions in my paintings. I’ve spent all my life painting, to express a sense of freshness just like a new spring. Women, cats, flowers, and birds in my paintings all represent the beauty in that freshness.”

Besides painting, Ting also loved to write poetry. The poems are straight-forward, honest and sincere, just like the author himself. He had published a few books of poetry. Early in 1964, he invited his 28 artist friends in New York, such as Sam Francis, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, to create prints for the book One Cent Life.

Since 2001, Ting had been settled in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He was not able to paint after a stroke in 2002. From 1952 to 2002, he held over 100 exhibitions in France, the Netherlands, Canada, Sweden, Spain, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Shanghai. His works were collected by many world-class art museums. In 2010, he died at the age of 81 in New York.

The poems and paintings of Walasse Ting reveal his unique world: free, passionate, bold and reckless. Ting never officially received college training and was never influenced by formal academia. He had an unbridled passion for creativity. His works contained deeply rooted Eastern culture and spirit, yet they display a distinct and unique Western style. In Ting’s paintings, the brilliant and luminous colours exude the fragrance of flowers. We can feel the blossoming youth from his paintings as well as his passionate soul.

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