In 1968, Ju Ming began an apprenticeship under the famed Taiwanese sculptor Yuyu Yang, whose sweeping and energetic sculptural compositions no doubt left a deep impression on Ju Ming’s mind (Fig. 1). Yang believed that while Ju Ming had a fairly solid build, he was too thin, and advised him to take up Taichi to build up his strength and train his will. Ju Ming’s study of Taichi allowed him to realize the relationship between body and the mind, as well as the interplay between strength and balance. He also came to understand the importance of erasing boundaries between self and other. In 1976, Yang was invited to exhibit at the National Museum of History. After the exhibition had been scheduled Yang was unable to finish his work and he delegated Ju Ming to replace him. Since then, Ju Ming has amazed the world with his ability to imbue his sculptures with a subtle yet incontrovertible energy.
In Taichi Series (Lot 48), the pose of a Taichi practitioner has been expertly translated into a geometrical yet sweeping gesture captured in bronze. Through this semiabstraction, the artist shifts the focus from the action of the exercise to the internal potential energy and momentum of the body. The sculpture's external angular transition is gentle, reflecting Ju Ming's comprehension of the shape and spirit of Taichi or Laozi's concept of "soft and tough, static and dynamic, straight and curved.”.
This work features an unidentified Taichi player without any distinguishing facial or physical features. What matters is not the figure’s identity, but rather the relationship of the body’s posture with the space around it. With variations in time, light, and space, Ju Ming’s Taichi sculptures start a dialogue each time they are placed in new surroundings. Similarly, bronze as a material, whether in its archaic or its contemporary use, inherently displays a relationship between time and space; its patina serves as a record of its previous surroundings, climate, and the time which it has spent there (Fig. 2).
A close comparison can be drawn to the way in which the works of American sculptor Isamu Noguchi spark conversation between a form and its surroundings. In Noguchi’s work Pylon, it is easy to see how the movement of the sun activates different parts of the sculpture through light and shadow; the work a representation of stoic and stable support, while simultaneously in constant flux (Fig. 3). As Noguchi once said of Taichi: ‘relative perspective of our vision, lay volume, line point, giving shape, distance and proportion. Movement, light and time itself are also qualities of space'. (I. Noguchi, quoted in S. Hunter, Isamu Noguchi, New York, 1978, p. 85.)
From the Renaissance through contemporary installation art, the nature of sculpture has always been an investigation of positive and negative space. Ju Ming’s sculptures embrace this timeless pursuit, embodying the space between action and stillness. He consciously utilized energy, rhythm, and action as the fundamental elements with which to compose his works. Undisrupted by excessive form, this simple yet powerful form allows viewers to peer directly into the heart of the sculpture.