Chinese Artist Builds on Ideals of 2 Cultures

Ye Wu-Lin, a well-known landscape painter in his native China, is having his first U.S. exhibit at the Couturier Gallery in Los Angeles.

Born in Sian, China, in 1944, Ye spent the years of the Chinese cultural revolution in the countryside, learning to grow crops, according to his American translator, Monica Hsu. Thereafter, he began working for the government designing postage stamps. In 1976, one of his state-commissioned paintings received an award at the International Stamp Exhibition in Italy. Since then, his work has been displayed widely in China and Japan.

In China, “landscape painters brought their own spirit and personality to the painting instead of merely copying from nature,” Ye said. “This is the perfect state all Chinese landscape painters try to achieve.”


Chinese landscape painting, a genre at least 15 centuries old, is rich in tradition and subtle meaning in ways that American landscape painting has never been. As early as the Tang Dynasty, Chinese landscape painters were less concerned with what Americans would consider traditional realism than with poetic images reflecting the balance between man and nature.

“Overall, Chinese landscapes tend to put too much emphasis on abstract notions and neglect visual vividness,” Ye said. “Western landscapes, on the other hand, have never reached the artistic height of figure or history painting. To the Chinese eye, Western landscape painting seems to lack maturity and profundity.”

Ye’s technique incorporates the ideals of centuries-old Chinese landscape painting with the realism traditionally prized by Westerners. He now has permanent canvases in China’s National Art Gallery and the Historical Museum in Beijing.

Ye is living in Los Angeles for a year, planning to travel to paint native landscapes in California, the Grand Canyon and elsewhere. The artist is here as a visitor solely on his on; the Chinese government played no active role in bringing him to the United States, according to Hsu.

The exhibition continues through May 27.

Couturier Gallery, 166 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 933-5557. Open Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment.

ELWES AT CAZ: The CAZ Gallery in West Hollywood is exhibiting the second Los Angeles show of works by Damian Elwes, the young British figurative painter popularized by art impresario Robert Fraser.

Elwes is the grandson of society portraitist Simon Elwes, whose Postimpressionist brush captured many crowned heads of European society in the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s. He also painted many American philanthropists of those decades. Like his grandfather’s, Damian Elwes’ paintings have found a wide society audience in the United States and Europe. His busy abstract portraits incorporate Expressionist images with the shapes and colors made familiar by urban graffiti artists.

The combination has produced sellout crowds at his last New York and Los Angeles shows and a client list that includes Gene Kelly, Al Pacino, Emilio Estevez, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, Pierce Brosnan and Rob Lowe. His inaugural show, under the auspices of Fraser, was in 1985 at the Edinburgh Festival.

The CAZ exhibit, which opened yesterday, continues through May 7.

CAZ Gallery, 8715 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood. (213) 652-6952. Open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

FROM HOLLAND HOSPITAL: The Outside-in Gallery in West Hollywood will present the local debut of artist Dewey Blocksma beginning Friday.

Blocksma was until recently an emergency room doctor in Holland, Mich. He left the job to travel across the United States in his Volkswagen, producing drawings, canvases and sculptures influenced by rural America in terms of subject matter and the use of simple materials.

Framed screen doors, painted and hung with everyday items, are a major part of this new show, according to gallery owner Liz Blackman, who curated last year’s successful exhibit of the works of the Rev. Howard Finster, a Georgia folk artist.

Outside-in Gallery, 834-B Westmount Drive, West Hollywood. (213) 657-6369. By appointment only.