Sculpting the souls
Updated: 2013-05-01 00:15
By Xie Chuanjiao (China Daily)
Wu Weishan says clay is his most intimate friend, Xie Chuanjiao discovers
Many Chinese artists have now attained international recognition but few have gained a level of respect shown to sculpture master Wu Weishan.
His works have been exhibited and collected across the world. United Nations Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said his sculptures "embody not just the soul of a nation but of all humanity". Queen Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard of The Netherlands praised the historical notable characters he sculpted as "walking out of a 5,000-year history". Scholar Ji Xianlin said: "The sculptural arts of China entered a new era led by Wu Weishan."
The 51-year-old sculptor from East China's Jiangsu province is known for his exceptionally expressive portrait sculptures, which include works of more than 500 historical and cultural notable people as well as ordinary folk.
His portrait of ancient philosopher Lao Tzu won a gold medal at the 2012 Louvre International Art Exhibition.
"The traditional Chinese culture includes a wide range of virtues such as humanity, faith, honesty and tolerance," Wu said. "Those sculptures reflect the ideas and philosophy that resonates throughout history which are also needed in today's world."
In 2003 Wu won the Pangolin Award of the British Society of Portrait Sculptors for his work "The Sleeping Child", which enabled him to become a member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors.
"It was modeled during a visit to a friend's house," Wu recalled. The friend's child was unwell and had been crying for most of the day. Later the baby fell asleep with his mouth open. Wu promptly sculpted the memorable image.
"The work reminds people of their own childhood and brings back sweet memories," said Wu. "It also reflects the universal feeling that children are innocent and have no preconceived ideas about culture."