On-tsun Andrew Fung . Steering between Tradition and Modernity: Yu Ming and his Figure Paintings
Around the turn of the 20th century, irresistible tides of Western thought began to usher China and its art towards modernity. However, the force of tradition remained strong as certain artists continued to defend their legacy. This article concerns a figure painter active around this time—Yu Ming (1884–1935). Through an examination of ten of his paintings from the 1920s and ‘30s, during the later part of his life, it will reveal the traditional and Western influences that inspired him throughout his career. But it also aims to offer more than just a simple identification of these influences. Defying a clear-cut division between the classical and the modern, these figure paintings shed light on some deeper concerns and sentiments of the artist during that time.