CULTURAL. Artist Benjamin Wu paints dynamic scenes that reflect the heritage, ancestry and traditions of both Eastern and Western cultures.

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1 CULTURAL CO Artist Benjamin Wu paints dynamic scenes that reflect the heritage, ancestry and traditions of both Eastern and Western cultures. By John Geraghty Supply Station, oil on canvas, 48 x 72"

2 NNECTIONS

3 Happy Hour, oil on canvas, 40 x 42 Since the Cultural Revolution in China, the influx of Chinese artists to the United States has had a dramatic influence on all genres of art here in America, from abstract modernism to pure realism. These artists bring with them a level of training incomparable to anything offered in our scholastic curriculum. They have come to America to achieve their dreams, in most cases becoming citizens, furthering their education earning masters degrees in fine art from our universities and finding their place in the American culture. Benjamin Wu is one of these extraordinary artists. He was born in 1961 in the small coastal town of Zhanjiang in the province of Guangdong located in southern China. At the age of 5 he was constantly drawing; his mother encouraged these interests. At age 14 he was accepted into a prestigious art school directed by Xuan Chenbang, one of the most influential artists in the area at that time. Wu s progression was extraordinary; in 1978 he was encouraged to take the entrance examination for the Preparatory School of Guangzhou Fine Art institute of China. Wu was accepted and for the next three years he received rigorous and formal training in drawing and painting, which established a solid foundation for his future. In 1981 he was accepted into the oil painting department of Guangzhou Fine Art Institute, one of his professors was the master artist Mian Situ. Throughout his training, art students were often sent out into the countryside to draw and paint. Before the end of the Cultural Revolution, students were required to live and work with the villagers, this practice encouraged Wu to return during vacations to these rural villages to draw and paint live figures in plein air. Today he continues this practice. When returning to China, the countryside and rural villages remain his favorite travel destinations. After his immigration to the United States, Wu received his Masters of Fine Art from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco in He worked successfully as a freelance illustrator for several years. Wu met his wife Jenny in 1989 and they were married in 1990, 42

4 Girl on Oregon Trail, oil on canvas, 32 x 28 Wu shares, The Oregon Trail is one of my favorite subject matters. The figures, the wagons and the landscape are interesting to paint. 43

5 44 Girls in Garden, oil on canvas, 36 x 24 Painting girls playing in a garden is always pleasant. The white outfits of the girls against the green background make it interesting, Wu describes.

6 their daughter Naomi was born in 1994 and at present is attending Northwestern University in Boston. Although his illustrating career was providing a substantial income, Wu s dream was to focus on a fine art career. In 2000 Wu and Jenny made the decision to begin the change in his profession to fine art. Wu began to enter various art shows and contact art galleries for representation; although he received numerous awards, his career was at a slow pace. The galleries he was being represented by were not providing exposure and with his prices held at a minimum with large commissions, it was difficult to move forward. In speaking to Situ, Z.S. Liang and other Chinese artists, they recommended he contact me as I had been active in providing support and direction to numerous artists. I spent considerable time reviewing his work, I felt his foundation was solid and in my opinion he had a great future. We spoke of various observations I had made with his work, suggested he find his own subject matter rather than emulating others, spend more time with each painting, create a story line, introduce interaction with his figures, and reconsider his pricing. The progression of his work was amazing. In 2011 I called John Marzoff, a friend who had recently purchased Biltmore Galleries and was interested in expanding into the contemporary artist market as well as maintaining the high profile of one of the nation s prominent galleries representing the works of the deceased masters. Marzoff also acquired Broadmoor Galleries in Colorado Springs and expanded the gallery space. I knew Marzoff was looking for artists with great potential. He was impressed with the paintings of Wu, offered to represent him and provided the national exposure Wu deserved. This has become a successful relationship; as I continue to work with both Marzoff and Wu, I have witnessed an amazing progression in Wu s work. As Wu says, Painting the figures in a live environment is my favorite. I love to paint people who live in the rural countryside of China because they remind me of my childhood and some of the most beautiful Girls Doing Laundry, oil on canvas, 30 x 36 When I paint the Oregon Trail, I try to paint it from different perspectives, says Wu. The girls doing laundry is an interesting perspective. The reflection and the ripple provide some good elements for the painting. moments of my life. I still remember the days of living with my grandmother in the village. I remember going to the creek to catch fish, riding on the back of a water buffalo and running around with other kids in the crowded farmers market, through my paintings I share these memories and stories. My interests in Western subjects were sparked by the rich American history and its stories. Lewis and Clark, the Oregon Trail, Native American culture, Western books and movies are all inspirations for my western paintings; I continue to build a library on these subjects, he continues. Living in the West Coast as an artist it is difficult to ignore the Western culture. The old gold mining town of Columbia, California, is within a two-hour drive, a friend's ranch near Columbia has been in the family for 140 years (the Gold Rush era), here I can easily find footprints of the pioneers long before the westerners set foot on this land, there were the Native Americans, and today their lives and spirits live on. I visit Native American reservations, the Oregon Trail, working cattle ranches, the old gold mining towns; this helps me to understand what real life in the Old West was like. Wu was trained in representational art, initially influenced by the Russian artist s llya Repin and Valentin Serov. During the early 1980s when China slowly opened up to the Western world, he was further fascinated by Rembrandt, Vermeer and the French artists Jules Bastien-Lepage and Léon Augustin Lhermitte. When he came to the United States, he found Picasso and Klee extremely interesting; however, Wu has never varied from his appreciation of pure realism. He is fascinated with the works of Situ and Howard Terpning. If you are interested in the collection of artists that are emerging rapidly and have potentially great futures, I suggest you seriously look at the paintings of Benjamin Wu. About John Geraghty John Geraghty, Trustee and Special Advisor to the Autry National Center s Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale, shares his insights on the Western art scene. He continues to be afflicted with the incurable passion for collecting Western art. 45

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