A school field trip to the Hong Kong Museum of Art in May introduced me to the art of Taiwanese sculptor Ju Ming. I went earlier in the year with the family on our ‘Museum Day’, then returned with all my students from grade 8.
Ju Ming started as a wood carver, but following an apprenticeship with Japanese sculptor Yu Yu Yang, his style became less ‘finished and polished’, more rough and broad in shape and form. The pieces on display at the exhibition were from his “Living World” and depict people engaged in everyday activities such as waiting in line, sunbathing, sitting and chatting with friends. Here is a selection of the sculptures that we saw.
I really enjoyed the variety of subject matter and media; Ju Ming works in different media including wood, bronze casting, folded steel, each one giving a different mood and feel.
I particularly liked the folded steel figures that projected stronger emotions than his other more ‘daily life’ sculptures.
The ‘swimming’ series reminded me of some of Degas’ ballet dancers or bathers in the capturing of those awkward positions and poses the human body gets into when caught unaware.
The majority of my students enjoyed the visit as they were able to interact with the outside sculptures and sketch the inside ones (we did try a bit of sketching outdoors, but the heat and humidity proved to be too much). The sculptures make ideal sketching subjects as their blocky forms without intricate detail mean that students don’t have to worry about accuracy of shape and can concentrate on basic forms.
If you ever have a chance to see his work I strongly recommend seeing his sculpture. You can see his work at the museum he built which is dedicated to his work in Taiwan. Ju Ming Museum.