丁雄泉 Tings muse; The history of Walasse Ting

Bert Kuipers, Owner of Bert Kuipers Kunsthandel Gallerease
Bert Kuipers
Owner of Bert Kuipers Kunsthandel
3 Articles

In the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s of the last century, Walasse Ting's work was immensely popular in America and Europe.

The lithographs and posters had sky-high print runs. The prices of the original works on rice paper and canvas reached absolute records. For more than ten years now there has been a continuous interest in his work in China and other Asian countries, where the rediscovered work is increasingly being offered at auctions. In the Netherlands, his work was shown during an exhibition in the Jan van der Togt Museum in Amstelveen.

Time for a retrospective!


Wallesse Ting Exposition, The Amsterdam Years



Walasse Ting is born in Wuxi, 125 km northwest of Shanghai. According to Chinese tradition, parents give their child a first name that reflects the qualities and characteristics that they want for their child. This is how Tings' parents came to call their son 'Hsiung Chuen', which means so much as 'powerful and abundant flowing source'. For good balance, they added the name 'Hua la Si' ('spoiled').


 Artwork Woman by Wallesse Ting

Woman by Walasse Ting


Ting draws and paints from his early youth. Although he follows some lessons at the Shanghai Art Academy, the program does not have much to offer him as is often the case with opinionated and talented artists. In his early years, he can be found in the streets of his hometown Shanghai where he illuminates the sidewalks with countless chalk drawings.

In 1946 he moves, inspired by I Ching (the book of Changes), to Hong Kong where he can soon exhibit his work in a bookstore. In this period he starts selling watercolours to American collectors of Modern Art for the first time.


Page from a Song Dynasty (960-1279) -printed in the book of I Ching (Book of Changes)



In 1950 he travelled to France; probably motivated by this success. He disembarks in Marseilles with a cardboard suitcase and a roll of rice paper which he has wrapped in a red cloth. He arrives with only five US dollars in his pocket, without a passport and visa and he doesn’t speak French at all.

In Paris, he finds shelter in a small apartment in the Passage Raguinot in the 12th arrondissement. Although the condo lacks space Ting starts frantically painting huge paintings on canvas and paper. There is no place to view the result from a distance. He remains loyal to the great sizes, the physical brushes in the tradition of Chinese calligraphy and painting.

In Paris, Ting also has his first confrontation with Western abstraction, in particular with the works of Picasso and Matisse. They leave an indelible impression. In admiration for Matisse, he decides to change the last syllable of his first name Hua La Si to -sse. This is how Europe, America, the rest of the world, will know him in the future: Walasse Ting.


Cat by Walasse Ting

Cat by Walasse Ting available at Bert Kuipers Kunsthandel


In the Fifties, Ting's star steadily rises. He lives in poverty, but artistically he takes important steps. He exhibits in a group exhibition in the famous Parisian Facchetti gallery and befriends Pierre Alechinsky. Both find each other in oriental calligraphy.

Alechinsky brings Ting into contact with Cobra artists. Not surprising since in Cobra the link between painting and poetry is manifest in the early years of this movement. Ting is particularly interested in the work of Karel Appel with whom he exhibits at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam alongside artists such as Lucebert, Asger Jorn, Christian Dotremont and the poet Bert Schierbeek in 1965. By this time Ting's poetry collection My shit and my love has already been published.


The artist Walasse Ting painting


New York

In 1959 the American years began. Ting settles in New York, where he moves into a studio on 100 West 25th Street in Manhattan. The windows and walls of this studio are soon filled with paint that Ting splashes paint like rain on his canvas and rice paper. In these years, he meets Sam Francis. This artist introduces him to pop art and abstract expressionism. One evening, during a gathering with other artists in Francis's apartment, the idea comes up to make an overview of all current trends in the visual arts of their time.

In 1964 the legendary One Cent Life was published. The work is not only regarded as the most artistically designed book of its time but also as a compact visual and psychedelic manifesto of the sixties. In addition to the pulsating street poetry by Walasse Ting, it contains 62 loose-leaf lithographs by well-known artists from that period such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Indiana, Alan Davie, Tom Wesselmann, Sam Francis, Asger Jorn and Karel Appel.

One Cent Life has a 2000 edition which has become a real collector’s item.


One cent life artwork by the artist Walasse Ting

One cent Life by Walasse Ting and edited by Sam Francis  - 1964


In the Seventies, Ting's work evolved into a pictorial synthesis; the Chinese calligraphy of the poetic word merges with the expressive images of Western abstraction. His work is also moving develops towards the figurative. He starts painting the female figure, his muse par excellence, in the evocative style that has become so familiar today's art lover.

In Ting's original artworks with acrylic paint on rice paper, in neon colours, fluorescent, it is 'always the woman' in every pose; erotising, European or Asian, surrounded by parrots, grasshoppers, cats, horses, flowers and fruit.

Ting exhibits in all well-known galleries around the world. Every self-respecting museum in the world displays his work, from the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam to the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim in New York, from the Silkeborg Kunstmuseum in Denmark to the Israel National Museum in Jerusalem and the National Gallery of Art in Reykjavik and nowadays in museums in the People's Republic as the Chinese are buying back the works of their ‘lost son’.



 Painting Woman holding Horse by artist Walasse Ting

Woman holding Horse by Walasse Ting


Ting becomes a striking figure in New York's street life, dressed in extravagant suits, cruising the streets in a blue or bright pink Rolls Royce. Countless muses populate his studio, near his home in Greenwich Village, sometimes as groupies, often as mistresses. Once more Walasse is the spoiled boy Hua la Si.

There are copious dinners in expensive restaurants, where Walasse orders all Chinese dishes available on the menu. Everyone is welcome at his table. His entourage share in his prosperity; his muses, as well as gallery holders who have his work in stock. He is warm and accessible.


Women with Fans by Walasse Ting

Women with fans by Walasse Ting


Unfortunately, in his lesser moments, he is almost manic, hiding in an oriental silence, totally shut off. For days, sometimes weeks in a row, he is unable to work his studio. He becomes melancholic and full of homesickness for his motherland China. Then again obsessively painting, many hours and days in a row, cleared of every obstruction, detonating on paper and canvas in all colours of the rainbow.

In the seventies and eighties of the last century, Ting is one of the most important artistic US representatives. In 1984, after a journey that brings him to Tahiti and inspired him enormously like it once did Gaugain, his collection of poems Peinture sur papier de riz is published in Paris. This work contains, in addition to poems, a retrospective with 316 exotic paintings that Ting made between 1975 and 1980.


Studio of Walesse ting

The studio in Amsterdam 



In 1987 after the death of his wife Nathalie in 1986, Walasse Ting goes on a trip with his son and daughter to Amsterdam. The canals remind him of the town Hangzhou in China. He likes daily life in the Dutch capital so well that he decides to live there permanently. In Amsterdam, he rediscovers his all-encompassing motif, his muse; the woman. He paints over sixty models in his studio on the Keizersgracht. They are immortalized on rice paper and canvas in acrylic, charcoal, oil and pastel. They are published in the book Jolies Dames.


Artwork Horse, women and parrots

Horse, Woman, Parrots by Walasse Ting


In 2002, fate struck. Walasse Ting is hit by a fatal brain haemorrhage. For eight years he is taken care off in a nursing home in Amstelveen, far from his native country, no longer approachable, no longer able to paint, comatose.

In 2010 his children take him back to New York where he dies within a fortnight in 2010. His orgiastic colours still vibrate and fluoresce on paintings in many private and museum collections. They are an ode to love and life that can be understood backwards but must be lived forwards. Walasse Ting lives on, celebrating life, far into the future, immortalized by his artworks.


 Walasse Ting in his studio in Amsterdam

Walasse Ting in his studio in Amsterdam


The works for sale in the Netherlands which can be seen on Walasse Ting artist page, mostly date from his Amsterdam period. The works on rice paper that are for sale at Bert Kuipers Kunsthandel have a very special provenance; they come from the collection of one of Ting's Amsterdam muses, Els.

Apart from his pictures of females they include a fixed repertoire of motifs: cats, flowers, parrots, fruit, grasshoppers and horses. Besides the exuberant colour, there is room for the stillness in diluted ink or paint on ultra-thin rice paper, small sized work in the Chinese tradition, aus einem Guss (in one stroke). The majority is signed in the form of an ideogram, a Chinese stamp, with character (s) in red lacquer that reflects one of Ting's many poetic artists' names.

The art dealership also has a very special item in her collection: a 24-page heartbreaking love letter that Ting painted in New York.


Artwork love letter for his muse Els by Walesse Ting 

Love Letter for his muse Els by Walasse Ting dated New York, July 24, 1990


Ting is less known as a poet. His verses derive from ideograms. They seem to consist of 'word characters', loose building blocks in images. Tied together, stacked on top of each other without the grout of grammar, they create a curiously naïve but concise English. Walasse Ting by Walasse Ting, an autobiography in poetry testifies to this.

If desired, Bert Kuipers Kunsthandel can intermediate in the acquisition of the poetry collection One Cent Life. This is a HC copy (hors commerce) with order and signature of Walasse Ting in blue ink, containing all original 62 lithographs.



 Artist Walasse Ting with the artist Corneille

 Walasse Ting with Corneille



Walasse Ting by Walasse Ting (1929 – 2000)


  1 year old first time sing song

  2 years old first time stand up

  3 years old first time catch grasshopper

  4 years old first time fly kite

  5 years old first time draw dragonfly

  6 years old first time smell flower

  7 years old first time piss under rain

  8 years old first time see fire burn house

  9 years old first time eat honey

10 years old first time see locomotive

11 years old first time see man and woman make love

12 years old first time see grandfather die

13 years old first time masturbate in bed

14 years old first time dance in ballroom

15 years old first time write love letter

16 years old first time falling in love

17 years old first time make love in the dark

18 years old first time left China

19 years old first time sold watercolor

20 years old first time make love with a prostitute

21 years old first time saw one man show

22 years old first time take big boat to Paris

23 years old first time make love with white girl

24 years old first time drink champagne

25 years old first time fell melancholy

26 years old first time lovesick and homesick

27 years old first time borrow money

28 years old first time not believe anything

29 years old first time write a poem

30 years old first time come to america

31 years old first time make love with a black girl

32 years old first time eat hot dog

33 years old first time married

34 years old first time grow mustache

35 years old first time wash dishes

36 years old first time worrying pay rent

37 years old first time have daughter

38 years old first time buy color television

39 years old first time buy life insurance

40 years old first time have son

41 years old first time naked in rain

42 years old first time wake up in night

43 years old first time hear mother drop dead

44 years old first time see father sleep inside coffin

45 years old first time become u.s. citizen

46 years old first time smell money like bullshit

47 years old first time see sun is square

48 years old first time know life is round

49 years old first time bought a crystal peach

50 years old first time eat green snake

51 years old first time boutht a letter by Gaugin

52 years old first time to Tahiti

53 years old first time drive a blue rolls-royce

54 years old first time have a cat

55 years old first time rainbow for breakfast

56 years old first time shower with a symphony

57 years old first time cry wife died

58 years old first time discover look like panda

59 years old first time buy a bottle perfume

60 years old first time make love with a virgin.

Walasse Ting Venice


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Lonnekerspoorlaan 104
7523 JG Enschede
The Netherlands

Written by Bert Kuipers on 28 Apr 2018, 10:00 Category EducationalTagged Background information