Chinese artist Chu Chu studied oil painting at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, and received a PhD in calligraphy in 2015. She has since devoted herself to painting in ink, seeking to incorporate this art form into her work in photography and calligraphy.
‘The creative act is a combination of improvisation and slow refinement,’ says Chu Chu in her Hangzhou studio. ‘Photography is a passionate affair to me. Realised in the instance of a click, it has the sensation of immediacy.
‘On the other hand, when I do calligraphy, I slowly place or hide’ words and passages from Chinese philosophy ‘in the landscape, among the fruits and magnolias.’
In Whisper of Trees, for example, Chu Chu excerpted poems from the Qin-dynasty (221-207 BC) Shijing (Book of Odes), an early classical Chinese text that describes the relationship between man and nature.
‘This act of hiding entails the act of searching,’ Chu Chu explains. For her, the search is for nothing less than the origins of Chinese culture itself, which often stresses ‘keeping things hidden. In the process of discovery, we can feel the depth and ideas behind this culture.’
Feeling tied to the natural world is key to Chu Chu’s artistic production. ‘My creative space makes me feel at home,’ she explains. ‘I grew up amid forests and landscapes. I need a space to recreate my connection with nature.’
Chu Chu’s Whisper of Trees will be offered on 27 November in the Chinese Contemporary Ink sale at Christie’s in Hong Kong.