Chinese artists by Michel Nau - Walasse Ting
 WALASSE TING

 

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Walasse Ting 丁雄泉

Born in China, Walasse Ting spent seven years in France, then went to the USA where he became an American national, before finally settling in Amsterdam. 

 

China

1929  Ding Xiongquan was born in continental China, in Wuxi - a town 125 Km from Shanghai, near Suzhou - and spent his childhood in Shanghai.
As is the tradition in China, his parents gave him a surname, which reflected the qualities they hoped the child would have: Hsiung Chuen (abundant fountain, violent spring) ; his name became Ting Hsiung Chuen and  to balance the qualities, they added Hua la Si (meaning spoilt).
He painted from a very early age. For a short time he attended Shanghai Art Academy, but he prefered to work on his own.

1946  After reading Yi Jing, the book of changes, he was inspired to travel, leaving China for Hong Kong.
He showed his work in a book shop and for the first time, he sold watercolours to American modern art collectors. 

 

France

1950  He travelled to France on a liner, arriving with neither a passport nor a visa, and with only five American dollars 
in his pocket. He spoke no French at all. In the beginning life was difficult, however he found a tiny room Passage Raguinot Paris 12ème, and despitethe cramped conditions he was still able to do enormous paintings, although
he could not step back to look at his work.

He had his first encounter with western art (expressionism, and Picasso) and immediately began to use oil paints, although he remained attached to his ink.

Out of admiration for the French painter Matisse, Ting took the last syllable of his surname Hua La Si and changed it
 to -sse, as a homage to the French artist. Hence the name : Walasse.

1954  October 29 to November 18 Ting showed his new work (experimental pictures) in the Fachetti Studio,  alongside Benrath, Bellegarde, Bruning, Bryen, Giannettasio, Downing, Graziani, Halpern, Hundertwasser, Ionesco, Koenig, Kosjas, Laubies, Messagier, L.P.Faure, Parisot, Tsingos, Van Haardt. G.W in Prisme des Arts n°2

1955  Dr Kuo Yu-Shou donated two paintings by Walasse Ting to the CERNUSCHI museum in Paris : Cheval, Horse ink on paper 77 x 96.5 cm and Combat aux grands sabres, Combat with large sabres, ink and relief on  paper
91.5  x 177 cm.

He met Pierre Alechinsky who would become a lifelong friend, and taught him oriental calligraphy.
In exhange Pierre Alechinsky intoduced him to the avant-garde groupe known as
CoBrA and introduced him to Piet
de Groof, who was thrilled to see his
grand oriental symbols, like sea serpents, dragons, kind of experimental means of expression, somehow westernised
, and offered to show his work at an exhibition in Brussells, at the Taptoe
(April14 to 26,1956).

Little by little everything came together :
Alechinsky compiled the catalogue and wrote a text entitled Night and Day. Ting did a lithography and took photos; he then took the train, carrying his work, to the Taptoe gallery, where he lodged.

Piet de Groof tells a story about when the invitations were about to be sent, just before the opening. Ting wanted to invite the Ambassador of China, doing the calligraphy on the invitation card himself. He knew that the Ambassador would be impressed.
When the ambassadorr sees my text … he would say proudly …
 
He was right, and the Ambassador came to
the opening on Saturday April 14, at 4 o'clock, and Ting successfully sold a number of canvases.

Critics highlighted the two cultures present in his work : 
large drawings which show the relationship between the art of writing and the lyricism inside. 
L.L. Sosset in
Prisme des arts n°3.

The two friends did a collaborative work called  "Where are you ?", oil on canvas 200 X 99 cm  which was one of a series of paintings that Borge Birch wanted to exhibit under the title of by two brushes. The project was abandoned however the paintings were shown in the France gallery in 1963 under the title of Divertissement arrangé pour peinture à quatre mains (Divertissement duet).

Christian Dotremont sums up the complementarity of their work together :
The westerner brought to this combination the art of filling the canvas. The oriental brought the art of making time stand still.

In the Dutch experimental art group there were two artists who were important to Walasse Ting :
Karel Appel who like Ting was greatly influenced by Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. In 1965, they showed their work in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam with Schierbeek Bert, Christian Dotremont and Lucebert 
With  Asger Jorn, Walasse Ting worked on the publication of 
La flûte de Jade (The Jade flute) 1970  writing the translation from Danish into American English of a text by Franz Toussaint, then writing the calligraphy in modern Chinese characters.

1958 Ting wrote a collection of poems which were published under the name of My Shit and My Love. They were presented at the Smith gallery in Brussels, in 1961.

 

The United States

1959  Walasse Ting left for the United States having spent seven years in France. He emigrated to New York.

1962  He married  Nathalie. His  workshop was in Manhattan at 100 West 25th Street, on the corner of 6th Avenue between Times Square and Washington Square. The windows of his appartment were soon covered with splashes of paint from his paintings, where the paint was thrown onto the canvas like rain. The walls also bore the marks of his painted canvases.

The following year, he met  Sam Francis with whom he became friends.
Pop art and abstract expressionism were to be his main influences at this time.

His colours are getting stronger
in
Stampa : October 3 2003.

It was while he was spending an evening in Sam Francis' appartment, with friends and artists, that he decided to write a book about the dominant artistic trends at that time, making it a comprehensive international overview.
1964
 
One Cent life was published, containing 68 lithographs from a variety of artists
.

1965  He introduced Alechinsky to acrylics when he was in New York, in a room in the Chelsea Hotel and he was at
the opening of remarks in the  Margin: Central Park. Together they did several collaborative paintings each working on the contributions of the other. 

1966  His daughter Mia was born.

1969  His son Jesse was born.

The writings of his children, when they were still at school One day, and the  poem My Dad  were included in their father's exhibition catalogue at the Lefebre gallery in New York in 1979.

1970  He started to do paintings of women, in a style very familiar to us now :  sexy European, or mysterious Asiatic, and always very colourful.

He was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship Award for Drawing.

1974  He became an American citizen.

 

His travels

He made many trips to Europe :

1960  Copenhagen

An exhibition was held at the Birch Gallery with 19 paintings and 8 ceramics. It was a great success, and exhibitions were then held in 1963 1972 1975 1980 1981

1961  Paris  He often took part in the salon de Mai, until 1968.
At that time he was living in
the 6th district, 52 rue de Seine.

1969  On his fortieth birthday, Walasse Ting donated forty paintings and forty two studies to the  CERNUSCHI Museum, along with his favourite ink bowl, and stick. This was a gesture to thank the museum for having displayed
his early work. Most of the pieces are signed, or they carry a seal, or there are characters painted in red, or white, which represent his name as an artist: TSAN HUA TA TAO, rather than his name TING.

1974  His first exhibition was held at the Maeght gallery.

1976  A portfolio was published as a homage to Asger Jorn, including 14 lithographs by 14 artists. Ting did lithograph 11, on Arches Vellum, called  For Jorn  75  x 54 cm

1981  Tahiti  He went there to follow in Gauguin's footsteps. He admired Gauguin, and had bought one of his letters the previous year. In Tahiti he was surrounded by the exotic colours that he so loved.

1984  Peinture sur papier de riz  was published by Yves Rivière. It brought together the 316 paintings that  Walasse Ting had done, on rice paper, over five years 1975-1980, in different formats :
36 x 48 cm,180 x 97 cm, 180 x 291 cm, 180 x 388 cm.
A letter translated into several languages explained the meaning of Ting's name as an artist: TSAN HUA TA TAO
butterfly dreams, millions of butterflies: colours, perfumes, the irripressible movement that he wants to impart
on the rice paper.
 

Amsterdam

1986  The death of his wife.

1987  He lived in New York with his two children, in  Greenwich Village. In the spring he decided to go with them to Holland, to live there for a while. We're going to Holland to paint figures, flowers, and colours and you'll take photos
of what I paint and how I paint
.(in Jolies Dames)

They spent two months in a gallery, converted into a workshop, in Keizergracht where he painted 66 models,surrounded by flowers and fruit.
Once back in  New York,  the paintings on rice paper, which can be seen, along with the pictures taken by his daughter, in Jolies Dames, a book published by Yves Rivière.

His children were very taken with Amsterdam. The canals reminded Ting of Hangzhou. He too loved the city so much that he decided to live there permanently.
From then on, he lived in two places, the USA and Amsterdam.

2002  He suffered a massive brain haemorrhage which left him unable to continue his work. He is now being cared for in a medical institute in Amstelveen. 


The United States

 
2010  May 17, he died in New York after he was two weeks ago.

D. Sicard

 

multiple sources : Like every synthesis, this biography only exists , thanks to the work of specialists that can be found in the books and catalogues indexed in the bibliography of this site.

 

 

 
Michel Nau : Walasse Ting's women

 

 

 

 

 

Walasse ting signature

 
 

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