In Winter, the Václav Špála Gallery will offer Prague Summer, an Exhibition of Wu Yi, a Chines Artist
The Prague Summer exhibition will present Prague in summer, the Czech landscape and the charm of Czech women through the eyes of an extraordinary Chinese artist, Wu Yi, from 28 November 2013 to 5 January 2014. The PPF Group, which systematically promotes worthwhile cultural and artistic projects, will organise the exhibition at the Václav Špála Gallery. The Zdeněk Sklenář Gallery is the co-organiser of the event.
Jan Řehák, Director of PPF Art which has operated the Václav Špála Gallery since the autumn of 2010, said: “The Prague Summer exhibition by Wu Yi, a master of Chinese ink painting, is in line with the gallery’s exhibit concept where we undertook to introduce an international author whose work is inspiring for or inspired by the Czech environment, approximately every two years.”
Wu Yi (47), a professor of mural and contemporary painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, will display some 50 cabinet pictures inspired by his stay in the Czech Republic last summer. His paintings for the Prague Summer exhibition capture Prague’s streets and their atmosphere, swimming in the Klikov sand pit in South Bohemia, and Czech women and their shapes and curves, unusual for the Chinese eye. Wu Yi himself describes his tranquil works, infused with humour and kindness, as “a quiet pilgrimage of a gentle practising of Zen”. His works painted using oil colours on canvas will be complemented by a series of 12 masterworks created using the traditional Chinese ink painting method requiring a harmony between thought, breath and motion.
This is the area where Wu Yi is considered to be one of the major contemporary experts and reformists: he employs the classical brush and ink technique on paper to create humorous and satirical works responding to the historical events as well as the current establishment and bureaucracy. “I try to spread the tradition while ensuring that it will continue,” says Wu Yi whose name means Art Warrior in Chinese.
Boštík, Reynek and Beauty in Trouble
According to Zdeněk Sklenář, the curator and co-organiser of the exhibition, Wu Yi is “an absolute painter”. The reason is that only a few Chinese are able to use oil or water colours on canvas, just as only a few of the occidental visual artists are able to paint with ink on paper. “Wu Yi is one of the very few artists in the world who have a brilliant command of both. His paintings are inspirational, true, and gentle, and Wu Yi himself is exceptional: he is very gentle yet thorough. He is friendly and cultured. He has the gift of a rare type of humour which is so close to us Czechs. And he puts everything into his art” says Sklenář whose gallery organised a breakthrough exhibition of František Kupka in China at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing, followed by exhibitions of Zdeněk Sklenář, Bohuslav Reynek, Milan Grygar and other artists. The Zdeněk Sklenář Gallery also participated in the Czech Republic’s booth at the EXPO 2010 in Shanghai with Zdeněk Sklenář’s The Monkey King exhibition and has been successfully developing the cultural relationships in both countries for a number of years.
Sklenář maintains that Wu Yi is one of the most radical artists in China’s history in terms of his approach. He writes, paints in ink and in oil colours, and creates ceramics. “He shows us the Chinese scholar of the past and the present the way that Czech readers know him from the Zpěvy staré Číny (Ancient China’s Poems) collection of poems. He is pushing his field forward and changing the rules while being respectful of his predecessors,” Sklenář says.
Wu Yi, Art Warrior, chose the Czech Republic as the fourth country of his creative stay – he first spent time in Paris, then in Aschaffenburg, Germany, and then in Kamakura and Kyoto, Japan.
“I believe that the Czechs and the Chinese have a certain kind of shared proximity, intimacy,” says the artist who decided to visit the Czech Republic having seem the film ‘Beauty in Trouble’ and who likes painters Václav Boštík, Bohuslav Reynek, Zdeněk Sklenář (the curator’s uncle), Jiří Straka and photographer Tono Stano from among Czech artists. Wu Yi captures his voyages to foreign lands in the form of notes not unlike those written by Karel Čapek. The catalogue of the Prague Summer exhibition includes his travel impressions and describes the areas that the artist focused on during his stay in the Czech Republic – from the urban life to natural sceneries to female nudes.
The exhibition is open every day from 11 am to 7 pm except for the Christmas holidays (24, 25 and 26 December) and New Year’s Day of 1 January 2014. Public viewings of the exhibit guided by the author and the curator will take place on 5, 12 and 19 December 2013 between 4 and 6 pm.
Following the Czech capital, the Prague Summer exhibit will be transferred to the Museum of Fine arts in Houston, Texas.