Wu Da-Yu is considered to be the first generation Chinese oil painting master and the abstract painting representative. He
was born in Jiangsu Yixing in 1903 and he went to France in 1922 to study art at Paris High Art Institution and Bourdelle’s studio. In France, he was under the influence of Cezanne, Fauvism, Cubism and Abstract Expressionism and aimed to pursue a modern art expression. In 1927, he came back to China and established Hangzhou Junior College of Fine Arts with Lin Fengmian. After the school was set up, he held the position as the dean and professor for Western painting department. Students he taught included Zao Wou-Ki, Chu Teh-Chun, Wu Guanzhong and his students commented Wu as “a good teacher who can arouse sparks in student’s eyes.” He had been teaching and immersing in art for his entire life, despite the long-term adversity, his art was more attached to the essence of life.
Wu Da-Yu’s paintings emphasized on the form, color and concept. By a glance, his works were seemingly similar to the western style, but with a profound study, one would realize Wu’s works were actually an expression of Chinese art. Looking at Wu’s work, it was an impression, a grasp of emotion, a Western abstraction, a Chinese imagery, neither is there a basis nor a classification. He coined the term “Shi Xiang” to illustrate the secular matters being engulfed and transformed when the soul was in turbulence. As for the color usage in his works, it can be considered as a state of impeccability. His colors were not only lyrical expression, but were also the hammer that drummed on one’s heart. Hence, Lin Fengmian had once praised Wu Da-Yu as “an exceptional artist of color and with an amazing creativity.” Wu’s life reflected the statement that “those who never create would feel empty; while those who create would feel lonely.” Wu’s life as an artist is exactly a soliloquy of a lonely soul.
From Phenomenology to Explore the Superstructure of Wu Da-Yu’s Works on Paper—The First Generation Chinese Master of Modernism, Pedro Tseng.