Ju Ming (Fig.1) is acclaimed for his use of modern, abstract forms to express traditional Eastern concepts whilst commanding international appeal, thus epitomising the growth and distinctiveness of Chinese sculpture. Ju Ming’s sculptures are richly rooted in his personal experiences and result in beautiful three-dimensional forms of his memory and even the traditions of Chinese art forms. Ju Ming started his artistic career as an apprentice of a local woodcarver Lee Chin-Chuan and developed fundamental skills in woodcarving, sculpting, and even sketches that laid the foundation of his later masterpieces. Ju’s sculptures during this period mainly consist of religious and superstitious subjects, but starting from the 1970s, when he was introduced to Taichi under the advice of his mentor and fellow sculptor Yuyu Yang, Ju Ming’s sculptures transformed into wondrous figures that embodied the spirit and movement attributed to the practice of Taichi itself.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Ju Ming’s international reputation reached its peak with his Taichi Series (Fig.2) and Living World Series developed in parallel. If his early works in Taichi series were more focused on the boxing “forms”, Ju Ming gradually moved his focus from “forms” to “ideas” during this period. One of Ju Ming’s Taichi series, Taichi Series: Cross Kick (Lot 52) was created in 1992 in camphor wood, which is itself a witness of flow of time in nature. Two figures facing each other and posing for the upcoming bigger actions easily seem like they are in a fight, one offending and the other defending. However, the core concept of Taichi, fusing two extremes, Yin and Yang, into a single ultimate and creating the balance of “Qi” is universally represented in Ju Ming’s Taichi Series. In Taichi Series: Cross Kick, Ju Ming provides the viewers with a space where they can observe the players’ spiritual conversation and interaction of their souls in silence beyond their physical actions. The left figure twisting its waist and transferring its centre of mess to the lower body with both legs set firmly on the ground clearly contrasts with the right figure with its right leg held up high and the lowered upper body preparing for the next bigger movement forward. The obvious contrast in the physical actions of two figures is also present in their energies (Qi, ?), which would ultimately achieve a balance and completeness by passing the Qi back and forth through repetitive rounds of Taichi practices.
Ju Ming's Taichi figures (Fig.3) are static yet in motion. The stillness appears to be a snapshot of a particular transient moment, but the figure is ready to move to the next posture in the Tai Chi form. Ju’s interpretation is akin to a playful transference of time and space. Nature is also inseparable from Ju Ming and his works. With natural materials such as camphor wood, Ju Ming emphasises the eternity of nature. And Ju’s human figures sculpted in bold and dynamic cuts of camphor wood without any facial expressions or physical details further suggest the eternity of our spirits, souls, and Qi, also a part of nature.