After studying at the Art Academy of Shanghai, his hometown, Walasse Ting moved to Hong Kong for a brief period of time before sailing to Paris in the early 1950s. We can observe Ting's philosophy of spontaneity and experimentation particularly in his earlier works such as Abstract (Lot 488) and Red Dragon (Lot 489). Both were painted in the late1950s, with heavy brush strokes and dark palettes in the manner of fellow countryman Zao Wou-Ki, who also immigrated to Paris a few years before Ting. While comparisons can be drawn between his expressive technique and Jackson Pollock’s action painting, Ting’s inspiration was always drawn from the material world.
Representing a different style in his ouvre, Big Sun (Lot 633) is highly relevant to the aesthetics of avant-garde movement CoBrA, perhaps even more than the two works mentioned above. Here the colours are brighter and bolder, imbuing the composition with a child-like sensibility. His use of colour pushes the composition beyond the semantics of the sun in a literal way, bringing up a more naive side of the artist's creativity.
Just as varied as his painting style was his choice in subject matter. Ting displayed a clear enthusiasm for the representation of women; this can be well observed in the paintings such as Three Beauties (Lot 492), Two Ladies with Fans (Lot 635), and Portrait of Ladies (Lot 634). Similarities in the composition of these three paintings is noticeable with his focus on the women's facial expressions, hair style, and the playful take on the colour choice of their skin tones.
Two other works, Do You Love Me? (Lot 490) and Do You Like My Red Hair? (Lot 493), both carry a much stronger sexual undertone, showing Ting's newly liberated inspiration which led him towards experimenting with the female nude form. The women in both paintings pose in a timid yet very seductive manner before the viewer and are surrounded by nature, lending a sense of privacy to the spectator. In Do You Love Me?, the main subject, a blonde woman in the nude, is veiled in the colourful drips that scatter across the surface of the painting, evoking a sense of the immediacy and eroticism Walasse Ting might have felt while painting this composition.
Ting showed not only a clear interest in the exploration of the female form, but also in subjects taken from the natural world: predominant subjects present in his paintings from this time include flowers, birds, and other animals painted in vivid acrylic colours, such as those seen in Ladies and Horse (Lot 491) and This Land is My Land; This Land is Your Land (Lot 495). Meanwhile Beautiful Sunshine (Lot 494) is rendered with detailed repetitive patterns. Flowers radiate outwards across the expansive surface of the painting, creating a striking vista of electric blue, yellow, and green.
Instead of adopting the idea of 'the void' in Chinese traditional painting, Ting utilised the entire surface of paper in both Black and White Flower Scroll (Lot 637) and Two Warriors on Horses (Lot 636), demonstrating a new style forged through the fusion of Eastern and Western compositional styles.