Sketching had taken Wu to many parts of China, but the Jiangnan area remained his favourite and he had always wanted to capture its beauty with the paint brush. He said, “As it is, this water-logged land is most noted for its waters. The small town of Yixing is sandwiched between the two lakes of Donggui and Xigui…. The Jiangnan in my works has white walls, black tiled roofs and silvery grey waters. All I want to do is to paint its beauty.”
“Time and again, I have sketched this waterway in lines and colour. Somehow, I can sense the illusion, which is the mother to sensuality. If I capture it with great precision, I will lose the complexity of the densely packed houses. This is why I have to be quick in capturing the dancing black and white plains, the echoes and contrasts between the big and the small, the distribution of the red and the green, and the addition of the dots and lines…. Otherwise, what I get will be no more than a couple of rundown houses seen in any photograph, completely devoid of the ambience of the Jiangnan area. Later on, I transplanted the scene in ink, then in oil and so on and so forth, in an attempt to create the typical Jiangnan scene.”
Wu was born and raised in Yixing in scenic and water-logged Jiangnan. He became a stranger to his native land, however, after his studies had taken him first to Chongqing, where the Academy of Art had to relocate from Hangzhou, and then France. Resident in Beijing since his return, he could only think back to his younger days for his impressions of Jiangnan. What can be more beautiful than one’s hometown in one’s memories? It is beauty purged by time.