Modern & Contemporary Chinese Art
Yu Peng (Chinese, 1955–2014)
Little Yu In Bamboo Grove, 1988
hanging scroll, ink and color on paper
Gift of Red Rock Studio, Hong Kong, A Williams Alumnus
Photo by Jim Gipe-Pivot Media and Stephen Petegorsky
Yu Peng (1955–2014, Taipei) was exposed to art at an early age by his family and visits to the nearby National Palace Museum. He studied a variety of artistic media during high school including ink and oil painting, drawing, and pottery. After travels in Athens and mainland China early in his career, he chose to pursue ink painting. His compositions are often crowded and disproportional, as seen here. Scholars often describe his brushstrokes as unorthodox, childlike, or awkward. Yu cites the influence of zhuo, deliberate awkwardness esteemed by Chinese literati. Taiwanese folk art—especially the theatrical rituals connected with weddings and funerals—has also been a strong influence on his art. Shadow puppet plays have long been a favorite of his as both a spectator and performer. Yu’s interest in popular art and theatricality has a loosening effect on the constraints of traditional ink painting. He also infuses his art with personal experience, suggesting that the “little Yu” here might be self-referential. Yu’s unique style fuses elements of traditional Chinese ink painting, Taiwanese folk art, and contemporary life.