Chu Tat-shing, a highly celebrated artist in sculptural art, was born in Hubei, China in 1942. Chu is a graduate of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, and has been a passionate sculptor since a young age. During China's Cultural Revolution when Chu was assigned to work in rural villages, he never gave up sculpting. He taught local peasants to use soil from the fields to make sculptures of farm animals.
In the 1980s, Chu moved and settled in Hong Kong. With a vision of promoting the art of sculpture in Hong Kong, Chu actively engaged in the local art community as a sculptor, a teacher, and, ultimately, an advocate for art and cultural exchange through sculpting.
Chu has a passion for creating abstract sculptures that incorporate allegorical Chinese myths, symbols, and calligraphy into modern art forms. Chu is also famous for applying "ultra-swift" brush strokes in his croquis drawings to represent the natural beauty of human figures. Chu’s sculptures can be found all over Hong Kong, in China and Hawaii.
Since the 1990s, Chu has been commissioned to create a vast array of legacy statues depicting public figures, humanitarians, and remarkable personalities. His most renowned statue works include full-body statues of Bruce Lee and Dr. Sun Yet-sen, capturing their perseverance and vision through his art.
In 2003, Master Chu completed one of his most noteworthy philanthropic sculptures: the portrayal of the six Hong Kong medical heroes that sacrificed their lives fighting the deadly SARS disease. This work of art embodies the core essence of each hero, aptly crafting key details into the sculptures to commemorate the spirit and significant contributions of each legendary figure.
Dr. Joanna Tse Yuen Man, one of the first medics to volunteer to work in an infectious SARS ward, was among the first to give her life while saving patients during the SARS epidemic. Chu looked at over 100 photos of Dr. Tse's, including her wedding photos, so that his work would reflect the altruistic nature of Dr. Tse's kind heart.
SARS-fighting hero, Joanna Tse Yuen-Man M.D.
(1968 - 2003)
The six bronze statues Chu created are permanently displayed in the Hong Kong Park, "Fighting SARS Memorial Architectural Scene."
Chu's dedication to promoting the art of sculpture in Hong Kong has been recognized with numerous awards and honors. His artistic legacy continues to inspire new generations of artists and sculptors in Asia and beyond.
In 2007, Chu was awarded the "Medal of Honor" by Sir Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, the former Cheif Executive of Hong Kong, in recognition of his significant contributions to the local arts and culture scene.
Chu was awarded the championship in the Hong Kong Sculpture Competition, celebrating the 2000 World Olympics with "Strive", a trophy-like sculpture symbolizing the spirit, energy, and strength of the Olympics.
Words from the Curator
Chu Tat-shing's portrait sculptures are not just depictions of form, but sketches of the spirit and temperament from within. Those being sculpted are often deeply moved by the fact that Chu can truly demonstrate their inner qualities which are invisible to the naked eye. Many of them said, "Chu didn't mold my appearance, he carved my heart."
Chu shapes "characters" to shine the "aspirations." Under his uncanny craftsmanship, celebrities such as Bruce Lee, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, and many others came to life. However, Chu emphasized that he does not only make portraits of celebrities but also statues of many ordinary people. Everyone has a story behind them, and Chu aims to reveal their hearts and legacy.
From researching the background of the person to be portrayed to kneading clay, making moldings, casting bronze and installing the masterpiece, Chu is meticulous and thoughtful in every single step. When making the portraits of the SARS heroes, he did not care about his retinal detachment and insisted on immediately completing the work right after his eye surgery. He treats every sculpture as his child and he nurtures every child well.
Just as Picasso's abstract paintings derived from his deep realistic skills and ability to see through three dimensions, Chu's abstract sculptures have a strong three-dimensional sense because his thinking comes from all angles. If shaping a character is about revealing the inner beauty of the person he sculpts, creating an abstract sculpture is Chu's means to express his inner heart. His life principles are all very positive and harmonious. Seeing his sculptures is like seeing him. Chu himself is a person who does not waver or deviate from his path.
Chu's willingness to share is more evident in his teaching. During the Cultural Revolution, Chu was assigned to the villages as most of the intellectuals did. He taught the farmers how to make clay sculptures. Many of the farmers who learned from Chu during those years went on to become well-known sculptors. Chu taught at the continuing education department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong after settling in Hong Kong. He has been sharing his skills, knowledge, and resources with the younger generation. Most of the renowned sculptors in Hong Kong are also his students. Despite being 80 years old now, Chu continues to share through cultural exchange."
It is not just Chu's sculpture skills that we admire and praise, but his noble character and positive attitude toward life. Chu himself is a “sculpture”, we can certainly view him from different angles and it is always a sight full of outer and inner beauty.
- Michelle Lee -