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Wen Wu explores the subtlety and delicacy of feminine sexuality, as well as a wistful, distant melancholy experienced by women as they reflect on their profound role as the source and bearer of life. In the recent painting Red Tea for example, the fleshy pink teacup, full with fluid, bears associations with the womb, as well as with the sexual awakening and bodily pleasures of a woman. It is interesting to view the work along side the surrealist object, Fur Teacup (1936) by Meret Oppenheim, and also next to iconic paintings by the Pre-Raphaelites -- the marriage of old and more contemporary influences is one crucial to Wu’s practice. Wu at once indulges in the fantasy, romance and fairytales surrounding mythological female figures of the past, whilst also connecting to the more recent lineage of female Surrealists: to their interest in erotic desire and in the unconscious interior lives of real everyday women. As illustrated by her recent sequence of sleep paintings, there is always something ethereal and otherworldly, as well as something actual, at work in paintings by Wu. Lying together in circular formations, as though to summon the forces of nature in collective pagan ritual, it is through small groups of women, seemingly vulnerable, hidden and unknowing, that discoveries of strength, protection and answers are to be found.  


Other recent paintings show the recurring presence of a fox, an animal that the artist feels reflects the sensual and immense power of women. While the Blind Willow painting could be seen to show the aftermath of witch-like activities performed on the heath, In the lovely blue shows a woman surrounded by her mysterious animal familiars, including the fox. In general, the paintings that we see in this exhibition open a new phase for the artist – she speaks of how she is now concerned with meaning in a way where previously she was only interested in sensuality and beauty…

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Shackles of a Woman, 2012

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