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SAM Art: An overlooked Chinese artist

Named for a 17th-century Chinese poem, this painting comes from the “Song of Lake Yuan” series. The poem is a lamentation for the good times the author and his peers experienced before the upheaval of regime change. Echoing 17th-century woodblock illustrations of epic novels, painter Lu Wujiu illustrates the poem’s 26 verses with vivid imagery that dramatizes the sentiment portrayed in each verse.

The daughter of a prominent Chinese figure painter, Lu Wujiu was drawn to abstract painting in her own career. She studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the late 1950s, where she began to define her style of synthesis between West and East. Her mentor there praised her ability “to see the analogies between traditional Chinese attitudes and the vigour of contemporary western abstract expressionism.”

Lu Wujiu’s work is currently on view at the Seattle Asian Art Museum as part of Elles: SAM—Singular Works by Seminal Women Artists.

 

Elles-related lecture tomorrow:

Victoria Haven: Portable Monuments
Members Art History Lecture Series: Curator’s Choice in conversation with Catharina Manchanda
Wednesday, December 12, 7–8:30 pm
Plestcheeff Auditorium, SAM downtown

Artist Victoria Haven and Catharina Manchanda, the Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, will discuss ideas relating to the works presented in Haven’s installation in the exhibition Elles: SAM—Singular Works by Seminal Women Artists. Haven utilizes ephemeral objects of personal significance to map her experience and memory to a larger artistic and cultural history that remains grounded in the Pacific Northwest.

The Song of Lake Yuan (one page), 1993-2005, Lu Wujiu (Chinese, lives and works in U.S., born 1918), ink on paper, 23 5/8 x 38 9/16 in., Gift of Wu-Chiu Lu and Shih-Du Sun, 2012.7.2.1, © Lu Wujiu. Currently on view in Where Have They Been? Two Overlooked Chinese Female Artists, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Volunteer Park.

SAM Art: Members lecture Wednesday

The daughter of a prominent Chinese figure painter, Lu Wujiu instead chose to work in the United States, and to focus her practice on abstraction-based visual language. Lu has been praised for her ability, “to see the analogies between traditional Chinese attitudes and the vigour of contemporary western abstract expressionism” (Professor Reverend Harrie Vanderstappen, University of Chicago).

This series is inspired by a 26-verse poem written in the mid-17th century, wherein the poet reflects on life’s meaning during the dynastic change from Ming to Qing. The poem begins with the beauty of Lake Yuan (in modern day Zhejiang province in southeastern China), in spring, as the poet passed by a mansion where he stayed with a friend ten years before. This mansion now belonged to someone else, just as the Manchus now had control over China, allowing the poet to lament the sufferings in this world which were beyond one’s control.

Echoing 17th-century woodblock illustrations of epic novels, these 26 images are by turns semi-representational, emotional, and referential. As such, the paintings focus on providing a pictorial homage to the deep sentiments of the poem, rather than treating it as an historical narrative.

 

Members Art History Lecture Series: Josh Yiu
June 20, 2012
7–9 pm
Plestcheeff Auditorium, first floor, SAM downtown

Josh Yiu, Foster Foundation Curator of Chinese Art, speaks on SAM’s Chinese art collection, including this recent acquisition.

The Song of Lake Yuan (detail), 1993-2005, Lu Wujiu (Chinese, lives and works in U.S.), ink on paper, 23 1/4 x 25 3/16 in., Gift of Wu-Chiu Lu and Shih-Du Sun, 2012.7.2.9, © Lu Wujiu. Not currently on view.