Taiwanese artist Ju Ming shows off his Living World work in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 February, 2014, 3:23am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 February, 2014, 3:23am

From the big, colourful sculptures that grace a Tsim Sha Tsui garden to black and white life-size figures caged in cells at the nearby Museum of Art, Taiwanese artist Ju Ming says his work is all about exploring life.

"It is a collection of little moments in modern life," the 78-year-old said of his Living World series, on show as part of his biggest Hong Kong solo exhibition.

The exhibition, "Sculpting the Living World", showcases more than 120 creations in a range of materials, from bronze and wood to ceramics and stone. They will be in the museum's galleries and outside at the newly opened art square in Salisbury Garden.

Ju said the works were divided into three sections spanning 30 years of his output.

The Affectionate World section features pieces presenting intimate human affection. The colourful outdoor work Lining Up (2002), which portrays people from all walks of life queuing, forms part of the Floating World.

The black and white sculptures called Imprisonment (2009) under the Carefree World section depict figures trapped in different cells. Ju said these works represented his exploration of philosophical questions about life. While the first cell, in white, was a "love cage" for a loving couple, Ju said the last cell, in black, was to lock up evil ones.

"The cell in the middle is half black and half white, without separation," Ju explained, adding that one could become evil just by reaching for the darkness. "Whether you want to be good or evil is entirely your own choice."

Ju earned international recognition with his series Tai Chi, inspired by the martial art. Ju says he has many collectors of his work in Hong Kong, and he created city landmarks such as Gate, at Chinese University.

He said he was "not bad" at tai chi, and practised at least one set a day. But his secret to health was to eat well, sleep and work.

"I'm sure, just pick any three young people sitting here, none of them work as much as I do," Ju said as he met the media. "What humans fear most is to stop working. If you don't work, you get sick. Look at some retired people. Before they retire, they were all healthy and in high spirits. But after they retire, they … die just a few months after."

The exhibition, which closes on June 15 and moves to Japan, will be one of the last before the museum closes for refurbishment. The work is expected to run from September until 2017.