Using painting as an emotional and critical way of reconciling with my childhood and young-adulthood in China, I make surrealist and Expressionist figurative works, which reflect both Western and Eastern cultures. I juxtapose ancient and modern Chinese imagery that are directly in conversation with canonical Western art historical images to at once pay homage to and yet subvert the narrative of Chinese culture, politics, and art, as portrayed outside of China.
My experience between China and the US informs my abstractions of familiar ancient and modern characters and stories in my paintings. The idea of Déjà Vu, or the sense of “already seen” is a guiding principle that elicits a sense of both familiarity and mystery that transcends space and time on one canvas. While my paintings begin as figurative images, the abstractions leave room for speculation. A literal interpretation would merely oversimplify the complex issues I am investigating-- power, government, communism, and class. I frame these issues in three particular ways: my cultural past in China, the American culture of which I am now a part of, and my personal values, revealed in tendencies that have persisted regardless of the cultures I have inhabited. Abstractions, expressionism, and critical art of any sort were harshly discouraged in China, so I mix both realism and abstraction as a rebellion as well as a form of expression.
When I create paintings depicting my pain and suffering in China, I feel frustrated and depressed. However, I realize the positive value of art, not only in surviving political and cultural oppression but also in the experience of becoming an artist. I decided to think back to the unforgettable joyful experiences of people and places I have cherished. I discovered humanity, morality, and justice in these meaningful life experiences and transferred this sense of justice and human sensibility to my paintings.
Solo Exhibition in Taiwan in November 2019
The rulers of each dynasty always asked historians and artists to beautify and whitewash their past, covering up the evil behavior. Those righteous historians and artists who attempted to write the truth always ended up paying dearly.
The artist WJ Su regards the writer Lu Xun as his teacher. He wishes to use painting to carry forward Lu Xun's spirit, criticize the dark and backward forces in society, and use art to convey freedom, equality, and universal value to the world.