Before he became an apprentice with the modern sculptor Yang Ying-feng, Ju Ming had already received his lessons in sculpting Chinese traditional religious statues from the sculptors at Matsu Temple in his hometown, establishing his technique in both Eastern and Western sculpting traditions. Guanyin (Lot 1387) exemplifies how Ju draws inspiration from local heritage, creating artworks that bridge East and West, combining folk and modern art practices and aesthetics. Ju's theme is based on Chinese Buddhist culture, and he solidifies the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion in bronze. Guan Yin is traditionally depicted in porcelain, sitting on a lotus flower, or standing upright, one hand holding a vase, and the other sprinkling sweet dew down to earth. The smooth lines lend a touch of lightness to the deity as she descends to earth. The Guan Yin sculpted by Ju, however, is in a reclining pose, with soft and smooth lines reminiscent of Henry Moore's human figures, highlighting the ethereality of the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion. The clean bold lines, straight or diagonal, are neat and powerful; the kind face of Guan Yin is further simplified to add a tenderness to the still form. The whole sculpture is full of Chinese traditional symbols and imagery, but expressed in a contemporary form.
The marks left by the teeth of the saw on Taichi Series - Preparation for Underarm Strike (Lot 1388) generates an interesting dialogue between the artist's assured mark-making and the texture of wood. The overall shape of the figure, with body upright and hands held up firm to form a solid cross, gives a sense of nobility to the serene image. It can be observed from his detachment from the formal Tai Chi movements and steps that Ju is not at all obsessed with an exact physical likeness. His figures, free from bodily restrictions, speak in the modern language of abstraction, and their prominent features show the pure form of spirituality and formation. Ju pursues Tai Chi concepts such as the inter-dependence between stillness and motion, the balance between yin and yang, elements nurturing as well as intimidating each other. Ju has commented, "Why does Tai Chi have to be played slow? The movements are so slow as if there were three horsepower in the player's body, and the player had deliberately turned down two of them, focusing on only one. Think in this way: when one has full command of one horsepower, wouldn't he be incredibly powerful when all the three are on?"
In the early eighties, once Ju had already established his virtuosity in wood sculpture in the Tai Chi series, he began to explore media beyond wood. He started to shape his Tai Chi imagery in bronze and stone, demonstrating the magnificent, grotesque and archaic simplicity inherent to the traditional Chinese martial arts. Techniques are channeled by media, which also mould the way of thinking. Unlike wood, however, modern industrial material has no inherent organic quality. Without this natural dialogue with his materials, Ju instead developed a kind of creative process emphasizing "speed" instead of a "fixed thinking mode", favoring "ecstasy" over rational "design". "When working in wood, conceptual changes begin with the very first cut, thoughts begin to intervene at the second cut, and the third cut should be quick and precise, digging into the niche, and then give another cut. In this manner, Ju would modulate his carving, until a smooth, flowing mass is formed. In doing so, Ju enters into a state where reason is left behind, channeling the wisdom and intuition from daily practice to allow the works to take shape.
The magnificence of Ju's works is due not only to size, but also the shape and texture. His sculptures, no matter how big or small, never fail to express the power and rhythm nature. Taichi Series - Turn Stomp (Lot 1390) is structured by the concepts of "speed" and "intuition". The sculpting process shows continuous motion and creative intuition. Standing upright on one foot, the weight of the figure is transferred to the right foot. As the figure attempts a sideward turn, kicking backward with the left foot, Ju depicts the heaviness of the left foot by showing the bending leg against the steady poise of the pelvis. The right foot kicks sharply out, that highlighting the speed and agility of the kick.
The early Tai Chi series by Ju are individual portrayals which reveal the strength, energy and dynamics of the human body, distilling the underlining the fundamental philosophy of Taichi: Yin and the Yang are revealed as two co-mingling halves of one whole; they benefit and complement each other and in infinite multiplications; they are the source from which all things in the universe derive. Since the 1980s, Ju has begun a new chapter in a re-thinking the Tai Chi series, creating different postures of dueling pairs. The Duel series, which was made to reveal the profound depth of Tai chi, was first exhibited publicly in 1981, and since then it has become among Ju's most sought after works. Taichi Series - Sparring (Lot 1391) is a rare work featuring two sculptures attached to a copperplate platform. In much the same way as Taichi Series - Sparring (Lot 1389), it shows the very essence of Tai Chi, which is, to stretch while bending, to be soft when the opponent is firm, to rebound the force onto the source agent. Although the movements are richly varied, they are nonetheless extremely powerful; Tai chi is, afterall, a training method for health enhancement and self-defense. Taichi Series (Lot 1337) vibrantly illustrates the ballet of Tai Chi, the figures complementing each other in a delightful contrast.