“Let’s do nothing but Chinese Contemporary Art!” – a discussion with Woffles Wu

Art Blog Story from Switzerland. Published by ArtAndOnly - Platform for Art Collectors on Tuesday 21 June 2016.

Waffles Wu image

Tell me a few words about yourself and the art you relate to.
First and foremost I was, and am still, a painter without a commercial objective – I just love to paint. In my teens I was influenced by the Matissian style of Ding Yan Yoong and created a lurid, manga style of my own depicting the life and loves of an imaginary character called Lewd Lew. In 1987 I was given my first (and only) solo show in a gallery in Taipei, Taiwan. It was covered extensively by the press who dubbed me the ‘NewAsian wiz kid’ for my garish colours and the style I adopted. People do things for different reasons.
As a collector, I am not a mad collector but art feeds my soul. I do not have interesting views on the art scene as I find it too commercial. If I could choose one painting and one sculpture for the rest of my life, I could. I don’t feel the need to buy. It is not a necessity, it is simply an act of excitement.

Art “feeds your soul,” that is not a statement to be taken lightly. What exactly do you mean?
Well if you are artistically or musically involved then there are certain things that give you pleasure or a sense of satisfaction. Music for instance has the power to soothe you or provide you with a sense of comfort. The visual arts have the potential of offering you the same. It is a process of appreciating what is being said, and finding interests which resonate with what you believe in. The reaction is like “Wow!! That is fantastic, how could anyone think of that?” You are left with a sense of wonderment and amazement by the creative people that are out there.

Is this the “Wow” factor that encouraged you to start collecting?
I’ve been collecting different kinds of things since I was about 10. When I talk about collecting I don’t exclusively refer to art and artworks. I have collected a whole range of different things ranging from football cards and cigarette tins to paintings, and from comic books to sculptures. I am a bit of a hoarder.
The first ever collection I started was of football cards when I was about 10 years old. I still have them. I then moved on to other things, more refined things. I turned to curious collectibles, until I finally found myself appreciating the visual arts. I bought my first Miro lithograph when I was 13, followed by a Dali etching, and then a Henry Moore maquette before I turned 20. Back then buying such works was more affordable. Not like now. Times have changed. I bought whatever tickled my fancy every now and then. It all changed when I was introduced to Chinese Contemporary Art.

What is it about Chinese Contemporary Art that urged you to pursue it more-so than the other items or artistic genres that you have collected?
Chinese Contemporary Art forgot about the two-dimensional. The West was boring, always portraying the usual subjects whereas China was introducing a new language, a new scepticism in the 90’s. The work expressed a sentiment which was at once whimsical, lyrical and political. The works were visually attractive and so I started buying a few pieces. When the Chinese Contemporary Art scene started to emerge people didn’t understand it nor what it represented and hence weren’t buying. I could buy a painting at auction for less than $2,000 – $3,000.
I soon realised that I had quite a few works, several of which were too large to fit into my house so I searched for a warehouse space. Soon after however my collection grew out of that as well and I realised I had to expand.

How did you start your museum, The Museum of Contemporary Chinese Art?
To be fair opening the museum was one of those crazy things you do in your life. In fact, I think…