Born in Wuxi in Jiangsu Province in 1929, Walasse Ting was among a mere handful of 20th-century artists who moved to France and travelled to America, forging for himself a notable career in the international arena. He was a nomad, having lived variously in Jiangsu, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Paris, New York and Holland. Apart from painting, he wrote poetry and prose; he also sang and danced, drawing from life the fullest pleasure and gusto. Ting was certainly a bon vivant: he cherished his friends and fine food, transforming his experiences into multifarious colors, wielding them as tokens of his love for life. Ting called himself a “butterfly” or “flower thief,” his art inspired by beauty and goodness, emotions and desires, and all the spices of life. He loved women, flowers and animals, and they served well as his artistic subjects. Ting never restricted himself in his choice of artistic medium: apart from standard canvas and paper of the West, beginning in the late 1970s he also used fine Chinese paper (xuanzhi) associated with traditional ink-and-brush paintings, applying large swathes of acrylic paint with wild abandon and boundless energy, which became his trademark. Ting was an expeditious painter, seizing every precious moment in life, throwing himself completely into depicting all the things that he loved.
Ting’s output has enjoyed a large following. His works have been collected by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tate Modern, Guggenheim Museum, Musée Guimet and the Shanghai Art Museum (recently renamed the China Art Museum). Sotheby’s has gathered ten paintings by Walasse Ting from 1966 to 2000 encompassing these classic themes in oil paintings, watercolors and sketches, chronicling the artist’s multiple talents in different media.