Wu Ching Ju
Dutch-Chinese, b. 1961
Wu Ching Ju was born on 17 August, 1961, in the urban township of Fenglin in the Huatung Valley of Eastern Taiwan. She learnt about the ancient traditions of China from an early age, above all, to love and respect her ancestors and all living things. After secondary education, she became particularly interested in the art of flower arranging, with its emphasis on simplicity, elegance and harmony.
Wu moved with her family to Taipei, Taiwan, and studied design and oriental humanities. Soon after her marriage, she moved to the United States, where she began to express herself through painting and calligraphy. During those years, Wu began to explore the differences between Eastern and Western aesthetics and she was inspired to create a new kind of Chinese beauty, giving it a three-dimensional form by using the Western technique of bronze casting. ‘I use the simplest lines from Chinese paintings in my sculptures, allowing these lines to manifest in the bronzes,’ she explains.
In 1993, Wu moved to the Netherlands, where she studied Western techniques of painting, sculpting and bronze casting. Her first exhibitions in the West all sold out and in 1996 she became a full-time sculptor. Now, Wu’s work can be found in private homes and gardens on every continent. Very early on in her career in Europe, Wu was signed to Halcyon Gallery, London. She has held over 50 exhibitions in Europe and Asia. There are several significant collections of Wu’s work across the world, including those established in the United Kingdom, continental Europe, the Middle East and East Asia. Eight works of hers are on permanent display in museums in China and 11 monumental public sculptures have been installed on 3 continents.
Her success in Europe and subsequent displacement from home is often reflected in both the form and subjects of her work. She felt impelled to take what she had learnt in Europe back to her own culture and to create a bridge of communication between East and West. For example, Fountain of Blessings, a public installation in Xintiandi Shanghai, merges oriental tradition with Western style and technique. The artist’s Mother and Child series of bronzes, as well as being a celebration of motherhood, also highlights what it is like to be an orphan, reflecting on both her own childhood and a career that has taken her far from home.
通过作品外观和主题，不难看出吴静茹在欧洲的成功和离家万里的思绪。她总想要把欧洲习得的带回故土，建立起东西方沟通的桥梁。比如上海的作品新生地《 福禄寿》（Fountain of Blessings）便将东方传统和西方风格技法合二为一。《母与子》（Mother and Child）系列铜雕，既是赞扬母爱，又突出了孤儿的感受，从中看出她的童年光影和因为工作 學習远渡重洋。
Her sculptures sensitively abstract Western figurative sculpture from its traditional form, while reaching new levels of expression. ‘Emotions play an important part in my work’, she says. ‘Serenity, modesty, sadness, tranquillity and joy feature prominently.’ While her subjects clearly reflect her passion for Chinese history, legend and religion, her process, she explains, closely engages with it too. She says, ‘I become entirely engrossed in my subject … I shut out the outside world which, in oriental philosophy, is extremely important. Only when you can completely concentrate are you at peace with yourself.’
In 2011, Wu Ching Ju created Pro Terra et Natura for significant public placement in the Lu Jia Zui Central Park in the financial district of Shanghai. The fifteen-metre-high installation was chosen from over 300 proposals for a monumental work of art to be placed in the green oasis at the base of three of the most imposing skyscrapers in China. Pro Terra et Natura features two winged mythical figures, representing Mother Earth and Nature, and raises awareness of the deteriorating state of the natural environment. The installation of the sculpture coincided with major exhibitions of the artist’s work in China in 2011 and is now recognised as an official landmark of the city. Drawing on the artist’s lifetime love of nature, Pro Terra et Natura captures serenity, hope and harmony to convey an important message through its impressive monumental form.
2011年，吴静茹的雕塑作品《回翔綠洲，大地女神》（Pro Terra et Natura）开始在上海的陆家嘴中央公园展览。全国各地有300多个作品提案，都想在中国三大摩天大楼中心之一的陆家嘴绿地，放置一个自己的巨作，最后选了吴静茹的作品。雕塑描绘了两个带翅膀的神话人物，分别代表大地母亲和自然，让人意识到自然环境的恶化。此雕塑和2011年吴静茹在中国的其他展览同期进行，现已成为上海市的地标。《回翔綠洲，大地女神》延续了吴静茹对自然的钟爱，通过惊艳的构造阐释了静谧、希望、天人合一。
Since 2012, inspired by Zen philosophy, Wu Ching Ju has devoted herself to creating works that capture the pursuit of enlightenment and the search for the true self, freed from modern life’s distractions. Her perception of Zen is not necessarily religious, instead, the artist identifies with the concept on a deeply personal level. This philosophy is represented in her body of work called Beyond Zen, which featured in Halcyon Gallery’s 2017 summer exhibition, Water and Bronze. This latest body of work skilfully captures the intangible concept of the spiritual journey in the hard and unpredictable material of bronze.
2012年，吴静茹受到禅宗的启发，创作的雕塑体现对启迪的探索和真我的诉求，摆脱俗世的纷纷扰扰。吴静茹对禅意的理解未必有着宗教色彩。相反，她从内心深处感知和认同禅宗。《禅意之外》（Beyond Zen）尤其反映了这一哲思，并以“水和铜”（Water and Bronze）系列，在2017年翡翠画廊夏季展进行特展。过坚硬未知的铜片，这些新近完成的作品巧妙阐释了心灵之旅这一虚幻的概念。
In 2016 and 2017, Wu’s work featured in the China Art Museum, a museum of modern Chinese art located in Shanghai and one of the largest art museums in Asia. During the 2017 BRICS international relations summit in Xiamen China, the Chinese government brought together a number of outstanding works covering an 800 year period of Chinese art. The collection featured Wu’s one-and-a-half-metre bronze sculpture Endless, from the Beyond Zen series, marking a major milestone in her career.
Wu Ching Ju now works mostly from her studio located in the mountains near where she grew up in the Huatung Valley. In this picturesque environment in the midst of nature, she continues to create powerful yet intrinsically delicate works, merging influences from both Chinese and Western cultures.