Lan-Chiann Wu, Tranquil Artist

by Liz on July 16, 2011

in Art & Design

Firefly Dream (2000)

Not too long ago, I received a lovely, introductory e-mail from a Chinese painter in Los Angeles. Lan-Chiann Wu, an artist specializing in contemporary Chinese ink painting, has lectured and exhibited in the Los Angeles area, San Francisco, as well as in New York, Taiwan, and Japan. She’s currently exhibiting at the Maloof Foundation in Los Angeles, and the show runs until September 3, so be sure to check out her work if you are in her neighborhood.

Lantern Festival I (1999)

Wu’s best paintings illustrate the depth of her imagination. At first glance, her world echoes the China of a fabled past. Red lanterns glow in hutong alleyways. Bamboo reeds whisper to the winds. Fireflies glow with flickering warmth.

But true to the contemporary nature of her works, there’s more to Wu’s art than mere visual references to the pastoral Far East.

House of Souls (1999)

What makes Wu’s paintings special is the interplay between meticulously planned illustration and the magical realism that is at the core of many novels. True to form, some of Wu’s paintings are inspired by classics, such as The Good Earth by Pearl Buck. Beyond the inspiration of fictional history, Wu’s paintings seem to exist neither in the past nor the present. Instead, she catapults the past into contemporary composition. She makes Chinese imagery her own, beckoning viewers with their familiarity but also imbuing the scenery with measured doses of not-seen-but-felt novelty.

I love Wu’s paintings for their emotional resonance that lives in the unpopulated fields, silent rivers, and the glow of evening. Her world is a harbor. The good Earth, our Mother. And it’s nice to know that in this Mother’s overarching arms, we are unfettered to fall asleep in peace and to dream safely in the knowledge that harm, worry and fear are at best figments of a child’s imagination.


  • wonderful works of art Lan, especially the Lantern Festival I

    • Thanks for the comment! Yes, there’s something very meditative about her paintings. So many more here:

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