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Just Another Chinese Landscape Painting?

2017-09-28 18:05:44 China Minutes

Last week Shanghai landscape painter Wu Ke was invited to London's Cookhouse Gallery at Chelsea College of Arts to present Another Landscape exhibition showcasing 30 landscape paintings the artist created between 2015 and 2017.

Wu Ke (centre left) after a discussion about his work.

Wu Ke entered the London art scene with a refreshing take on a very traditional and often misunderstood art form. Although not straying from the principles of traditional Chinese painting his daring combination of bold color and traditional ink and wash are probably producing raised eyebrows among the traditional Chinese painting elites back home.

Wu Ke combines an ancient method with modern colors.

Wu Ke explains “I try to combine the ancient thought and methods which constitute a traditional Chinese painting, but I also make use of modern colors.” In a sense it is adapting traditional styles to modern tastes, I believe that is why my work has received such a positive reception.”

A visitor to the exhibition drawing inspiration from Wu Ke's artwork.

Visitor Eve Townshend was enticed by Wu Ke's style “I like the snowflake effect” she said when gazing at Wu Ke’s use of ink and wash, another visitor claimed “it reminds me of a Monet.”

Yet the concept and principles behind a Chinese landscape painting are very profound and as Wu Ke says “to really understand traditional Chinese painting one must also have a degree of understanding in traditional Chinese literature and philosophy as well as a degree of self-cultivation.” It is these principles rooted in Daoist philosophy that a Chinese painter strives to achieve in his work to create a harmonious composition.

'Elegant matters aside the mountain stream' Wu Ke

It seemed Wu Ke was making a conscious effort to stand out from his peers, not content to put on just another landscape painting exhibition. With the name of his series Mountains and Water with a Difference we are reminded of the limitations and norms the artist has attempted to transcend during his own creative process. Other series included the sublime Seeking the Dao and the more down to earth Intimate Friend.

It is no simple task combining ancient and modern worlds in art, yet Wu Ke is among that small band of Chinese artists who attempts to do just that.

Photography by Huang Han Jie.

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