30 Year in Face 800 Year in Heart: In Memoriam Walasse Ting.

by Arthur on Monday, December 20, 2010

in 20th-Century,Art,China,Poetry

Brussels. Galerie Smith. My Shit and My Love: Ting. 1961. Signed by Ting on inside front cover; limited to 1099 copies. $250 [46359]

My Shit and My Love: Ting.

Walasse Ting died at the age of 80 on May 17, 2010. He is remembered as a mischievous bon vivant, prodigious womanizer and prolific artist who recognized few boundaries between his practice in the studio and life at large. In light of his recent passing, one couldn’t ask for a more forceful testimony to his irrepressible spirit than the beautiful and incendiary 1961 book, My Shit and My Love.

At the time of its publication, Ting was a young ex-pat who had fled the Communist purges of 1950s China to make a home for himself in the literary and artistic circles of New York and Paris. Redolent with echoes of the American Beat movement and French existentialism, the slender-but-oversize volume’s 10 verses cartoonishly exaggerate his appetites for food, drink, sex, creation and destruction.

The paintings which accompany them bridge between the gestural abstraction of CoBrA painters like Alechinsky, with whom Ting was closely associated, and the more controlled brush work of traditional Chinese calligraphy.

The book’s high quality print production (credited to Maurice Beaudet and Georges Girard) with its various texture and effects, including two six-color lithographs, produces a satisfying counterpoint to the manic intensity of its words and images.

In the title poem, Ting portrays himself as superficially youthful though emotionally ancient, “30 year in face 800 year in heart,” tempering his lustful embrace of the avant-garde with a nostalgia for the solidity of centuries-old traditions.

My Shit and My Love

My Shit and My Love is a portrait of an artist at the crossroads of his most elemental extremes.  One can’t help but feel a little awed by its breathless immediacy.  Sometimes youth isn’t wasted on the young. And clearly, Walasse Ting relished every moment of it.

Apropos of the first large-scale retrospective of Ting’s work and legacy, From Heroic Expression to Resplendent Color, on view at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum through February 13th, 2011, the Taipei Times recently published an excellent profile of the artist. If you can’t make it to see the exhibition in person, F.A. Bernett Books is pleased to offer for sale a limited quantity of signed, first-edition copies of My Shit and My Love in fine condition. Please contact us for more information.


FAB Item I.D. # 46359

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010 at 12:07 PM

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Arthur Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 4:25 PM

Dear Jack, we do still have several copies of the book of poems referenced in this post. please contact me directly via arthur (at) faberentt.com. Thanks for looking.

2 jack barouh Saturday, January 14, 2012 at 2:07 PM

Is his art available?

3 Emma Friday, December 30, 2011 at 3:48 AM

Thank you. Rest in peace, Walasse Ting.

4 Emma Friday, December 30, 2011 at 3:47 AM

Truly a wonderful author and painter. Will be sadly missed by myself. I have read his wonderful poems from
1 cent life in the National Gallery of Australia as an undergraduate student and he blew my mind.

5 Arthur Monday, January 3, 2011 at 2:23 PM

Thank you, Neil, and Happy new year. I completely agree with your assessment of his career, and find the CoBrA era-work engrossing while I can take or leave the later stuff. Very funny about his signature, too — my guess is that he signed all 1099 copies of My Shit & My Love.

6 Neil Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 6:20 PM

Arthur – Lovely to see such a stylish tribute to Walasse Ting, who was a very interesting and vigorous artist and writer. You’re right, 2 Cent Life (in which his poetry is visually interpreted by the full range of American and European Pop Artists) is his great achievement. But his own artistic development is also remarkable. After producing what I think is his best work in the CoBrA/Abstract Expressionist style, he completed changed, producing beautiful (but to me a bit bland) images of horses/birds/flowers/nudes with a Chinese brushwork aesthetic. And he was also an indefatigable signer of books. It’s not quite true of Walasse Ting (as it is, say, of the early-C20th poet Victor B. Neuburg) that it is easier to buy a signed than an unsigned copy, but he certainly kept his writing hand busy.

7 Arthur Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 9:53 AM

Brian – I’m glad you enjoyed the post. If you like My Shit & My Love, Check out 2 Cent Life, the folio of prints and poems he collaborated on with Warhol and others just a few years later. Thanks for reading.

8 Brian Pinsker Thursday, December 23, 2010 at 6:32 PM

“I hate carry package/ I love walk dark street half eat half walk”

This no-bullshit style of Ting’s is so striking and sudden; very fun stuff. It rings particularly true sitting through this dreary, wet-gloomy holiday season in Seattle. Thanks Arthur for bringing this guy to my attention. I love his crazy-kid-style graphics too. What a find!

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