Volume 12 Week 5

Tuesday, Nov. 6


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Updated March 7

Posted Dec. 16

online survey

Phil McNeely
Posted Oct. 245 2

Yao Wenkui

A native of Shanghai, China, Wenkui first took up residence in Ottawa in January 2000 after establishing himself as an artist of note in his homeland and nearby Taiwan.

Part of his motivation in coming to Canada was to pursue a career as a full time professional artist. While he had gained some renown in Shanghai as an oil painter, there is little commercial demand for oil paintings among the general population in China which favours more traditional forms of art.

“People were not used to oil paintings. They prefer more traditional water colour or brush painting,” says Wenkui.

If Wenkui was worried about finding a market for his paintings in Ottawa, his fears were quickly dispelled when he managed to sell 20 paintings in his first year here.

That was 2000, however, when the high tech boom was peaking. Since then the demand for his large, awe inspiring works such as “The Horse Man” has diminished some what.

In an effort to find his own personal space in the marketplace, Wenkui now specializes in personal portraiture in either charcoal, pastel or oil paint.

On the high end, his oil portraits are astonishingly life like as can be seen in “Chinese Lady” and “Chinese Girl” – both of which form part of his current exhibit at the Centrum Gallery in the former Cumberland Town Hall.

His love of the medium is evident in the painting “Tibetan Woman” which shows a young woman standing in front of a herd of yaks, holding a wooden bucket. Her thick black hair is held up by a red kerchief and her face is aglow with a bright irridescent smile.

But as spellbinding as much of Wenkui’s work is, his qualities as an artist shine brightest in “The Hunter”.

The painting is of a Tibetan hunter walking with his dog along the Qinzang Highland, some 3,000 metres above sea level. The hunter and his companion appear to be walking toward an approaching storm, struggling against nature in search of prey.

The painting, which is about four and a half feet across and three feet high, is a testament to Wenkui's immense talent.

View examples of Yao Wenkui's work

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