This is What Willy Thinks and Does

This is What Willy Thinks and Does

 

The famous sculptor, Willy Wang, has decided to donate his life’s work in sculpture and painting to the public. He hopes to establish a museum that will preserve and display these works for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.

Willy Wang graduated from the Sculpture Department of China’s prestigious Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1962, possessing firmly established fundamental skills. In the several decades of uninterrupted artistic career, he has created many excellent works of fine art; accumulated years of experience; and come to a deep understanding of the role of art in life. His inquisitive mind, holding the same mentality as in his youth, still fuels his desire to create new works with the same kind of passion he has always had for art.

He has during these years visited nearly every well-known art museum around the world, each time viewing the exhibits with a child’s curiosity, fastidiously studying each artist’s strength. Yet he never blindly follows others’ work. He knows what he wants, and eagerly absorbs new knowledge and techniques to bolster his own.

He will not pander to or chase fads, as others have done by giving up their true passions and convictions. His conviction remains to find the best media and techniques to express his artistic vision, and to utilize his skills and inspiration to the fullest. He believes that art is not only something that should be understood by others, but should also be something that touches others the same way as it touches the artist himself. He will feel happier if his art can inspire the same feelings in more people.

He believes that since antiquity, people have had the same perception of love and hate, the same standard for humanity and the same appreciation of beauty. They also have had the same bodily and facial expressions to show their emotions. Therefore, he asserts that to observe people and to understand their lives has great importance to him. He has always emphasized that art must look to life, but not only to repeat, copy, or duplicate it. Art must draw on life and go through an artist’s careful refining to emphasize the essential characteristics and remove the unimportant elements. The end product will then reach a status that is even more real than the real thing.

Everyone realizes that the great masters of the Renaissance possessed many artistic dimensions. Willy, however, does not feel satisfied with what is laid down before him. Therefore, he does not imitate these masters, rather he goes on to investigate and try in more than one way to express his thoughts. He believes that one cannot fully express his feelings with just one art form. Sometimes it is more appropriate to express his feelings with a sculpture of volume and weight, but sometimes it is better to do that with painting. Sometimes bright colors can better express one’s feelings, but sometimes it is the stark contrast of black and white that works best. For his entire life he has been studying intensively, learning through experience and self-study many things that one cannot learn in a classroom. Willy Wang has immense versatility. He does sculpture (stone, wood, copper, realistic or abstract), sketching, oil painting, fresco (realistic or decorative), movie and theater poster design, book covers and illustration design, stage design, caricature, and more.

Many sculpture styles exist. While each one is closely related to the other, each has its unique characteristics and can not be replaced by another. As a sculptor, Willy is acutely aware of this. He believes that sculpture is a three dimensional art form, but that not all three dimensional objects can be called sculptures. Sculptures, whether realistic or abstract (such as Henry Moore’s works), must have a sense of volume, a sense of weight, a sense of dimension, and a sense of space. This “sense” is very important. Sculptures must have a very full, bold, whole, and substantial quality that reflects the effort and detail breathed in them by the artist.

Willy has never believed that realistic sculpturing has gone out of style. On the contrary, he rather worries about how many artists in this modern era possess the capability to do so. Due to misunderstanding and misleading perceptions, many art institutions have abandoned training students in fundamental skills, and many sculptors cannot even achieve even minimal quality. Nowadays, in many cities, monuments and other commemorative sculptures in public view are frequently in a wretched state. Not only do they fail to commemorate historical events or to beautify the city, but they serve instead to display a city or a country’s lack of artistic aptitude, so much so that these pieces become points of ridicule.

Willy has encountered this situation on several occasions: When the work of an artist fails to earn public approval, Willy is often commissioned to recreate another piece.

Again due to misunderstanding and misleading perceptions, some people think that if an artist puts legs and arms on something it becomes a statue. They do not understand the great effort a sculptor has to go through in forming the concept, choosing the design, determining the style, and selecting the material. They do not understand how great a break-through and how much creativity an artist has achieved in his time in history. They see only the common realistic style of these works but fail to observe the abundant differences among them.

Take, for example, the simplicity and grace of ancient Greek statues which extolled virtues of beauty but did not express individuality. Roman artists took notice of the differences in individual appearance and disposition, which was certainly an improvement, but thus began to lose the old graceful paradigms. Medieval sculptures were restricted by religion and promoted asceticism, causing them to lack vitality and vibrance. The Renaissance stressed humanism and humanity thus Michelangelo was able to breathe life into cold stone and bring forth works which resemble flesh and blood. Neoclassicism introduced realistic detail, brought forth anatomy, fine wrinkles, and exacting detail, but lacked the natural spirit thus creating an artificial image. In the Nineteenth Century Auguste Rodin was a great revolutionary sculptor, who broke the restrictions of academic ideology. His sculptures brim with passion, display boundless technique, and feel vibrant, flowing and unfettered, but sometimes overstress the characteristics of painting and are not solid enough. His student A. Bourdelle emphasized the structural aspect in his sculptures, creating a strong feeling of commemoration, strength, fullness, and heroism.

Willy believes that history has not ended yet, and humans need to continue creating history by following the footsteps of their forefathers. They need to learn from the precious treasure they inherited to create a more glorious history.

Willy’s works do not show vestiges of imitation. He learned from the great masters, absorbed their characteristics into his own, and created end products that better represent his subject.

Willy’s statues adhere to the core sculpturing principles, and what he creates are truly sculptures. In his statues he can truly represent not only the external form but also the internal emotion of his subject. In addition to the basic capabilities of an ordinary sculptor, he possesses an acute observation not common among ordinary sculptors. Perhaps this was a gift he was born with. Before he was able to read he would constantly pick up a pencil and draw. He did not have any knowledge about drawing or painting at the time, but was able to represent the different characteristics of individual people with his simple strokes. He drew family members and friends. He even drew movie stars from memory after watching their movies. He had an amazing ability to recall people and distinguish between them. While he was in college, there were two famous Russian movies being screened. After the entire class watched them, they claimed that the two main characters were played by the same person. Willy laughed at them and said that they had poor eyesight. The entire class bet against him, but it turned out Willy was right. This proves that Willy still stands out even among the top students of a prestigious art school. Willy has drawn numerous caricatures over his life, using only simple lines and a few strokes to bring out a person’s characteristics and emotions, ending up with a portrait extremely true to life. These works of his had enormous implications. Experts were extremely impressed by his accuracy in portraying lifelike art and described them as “miraculous.” Some American experts have claimed that his works are even more lifelike than those of Al Hirschfeld.

Willy believes that even though sculpture and caricature are totally different art forms, they share a common nature which is to discover the essence, to make a bold selection, and to emphasize the preserved part, sometimes even with exaggeration. The unimportant part is deemphasized or even totally eliminated. This is more easily said than done, because it requires the artist to have the ability to observe, to judge, and to know what to do, and finally to bring out a product he truly wants. Simply put, it requires a keen eye and a steady hand, both of which Willy has.

All the above-discussed qualities of art exist in Willy’s works. For example, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen was not only a great revolutionary leader, but also a kind, honest, and simple man. That is why the bust Willy made for Georgetown University has exceptional detail in the eyes, eyes that worried about his country, eyes that were kind, honest, sincere, profound, and belonged to a most trustworthy individual. Madame Sun Yat-Sen was firm and indomitable yet affectionate and benevolent. These qualities all emerge in Willy’s statue of her. When others see his statue of Madame Sun Yat-Sen, they say that it represented her better than any photographs taken of her over the course of her entire life. Similarly, his statue of Jesus is not simply one that displays compassion for all mankind, but holds the embodiment of wisdom, faith, and sincerity. His bust of Cary Grant is described by Cary’s contemporaries as “More like Cary than Cary himself”. His statue of the internationally renowned mathematician Mr. Shiing Shen Chern fully captures the man’s wisdom and simplicity. His Confucius statue portrays the philosopher, thinker, and teacher in a non-stop motion, hoping to bring his thoughts and ideas forward to the entire world, so that even today he still appears to be walking slowly towards us.

Willy’s parents were both righteous intellectuals. All his siblings received good education. Growing up in such a warm family environment, Willy came to love drawing, painting, and reading from a very young age. Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain taught him the injustices among people; Confucius and Nikol Chernyshevsky let him picture an ideal society and a world of universal brotherhood. Greek and Roman mythology, Aesop’s Fables, One Thousand and One Nights, and Hans Christian Andersen enriched his imagination. The strong spirit and heroism of Jack London, Nicolai Ostrovsky, and Ernest Hemingway have constantly inspired him. This is why Willy is always able to bring out, in his works, spiritual beauty, formal beauty, dignity and faith of mankind.

Ever since he was a child Willy has always admired Confucius’ philosophy of “All men are brothers” and “a world of universal brotherhood.” In one’s real life an individual does not have the power to change the imperfect world, but he can certainly do his best to make contributions toward that goal. Thus, in 1992 Willy established the “Willy Wang Workshop” which brought together artists and art lovers of different nationalities and ethnicities to learn under him, free of charge. They learn together, travel together, exhibit together, and study the art of different countries together. The Willy Wang Workshop (WWW) has become a harmonious international family. Members of the Workshop help one another, cherish one another, care for one another, and encourage one another. They use pencil, brush and chisel to create many colorful and magnificent works of art. In these ways Willy and his friends wish to bring more beauty to the world.