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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