Born in Shanghai in 1935, Fu-sheng KU is the only son of General KU Chu-tung and he moved to Taiwan with his family and the Nationalist Army in 1948. He took to drawing at a young age and studied at the Fine Arts Department at Taiwan Normal University. There, he joined the Fifth Moon Group that included LIU Guo-Song, CHUANG Che and HAN Hsiang-Ning, and became instrumental in promoting Taiwan’s modern art movement. Exploring the meaning of life and existentialism is central to his life-long pursuit of art. Kenneth Hsien-yung PAI, renowned writer and a close friend of KU, describes art as a passionate and persistent pursuit for the artist. “If everyone must choose a way of life, painting is my whole life - my thoughts are in my work, and so are my feelings and every detail of my life.” KU faces his art with utmost honesty and has never jumped on the popular bandwagon. His fantasy and dreams ride free between a subconscious world of reality and fiction. Naturally inspired by anything or any situation, his creations spring from his inner sense, and time, place, material, color, and lines can all be used as vehicles for expression. KU readily twists his media in rich and diverse ways, giving his works sporadic fun and beauty.
“Man” has always been the most important theme in Fu-Sheng KU’s ouvre. Chia Chi Jason WANG points out, “Fu-Sheng KU ’s creative enlightenment began with the individual’s ‘body’ and he strives to capture the ‘present.’ Depictions of distortion and deformation are commonly found in his art.” Many of KU’s human bodies are deformed and elongated, a style that is unique even today. Fu-Sheng KU says, “I paint man’s inner self as well as his feelings towards the outer world; man’s relationship with mankind, or man’s relationship with his surrounding environment and nature. Life is a riddle and a dream, life is fragile.” The complexity of human nature, interpersonal parting, the mysteriousness and desires of the body, and the dream and reality of life, etc. – these ideas are all conveyed through his art. His works exude a rich literary atmosphere and explore the endless reflection, filling it with strong emotion and drama.
Fu-Sheng KU’s art can be classified into different periods based on the cities he has lived in: Taiwan Period (1956-1961), France Period (1961-1962), New York Period (1963-1974), San Francisco Period (1974-1990), Portland Period (1990-2002), Chicago Period (2002-2007), and Los Angeles Period (2007-Present). This solo exhibition spans various stages, but the focus is on his recent Los Angeles period. KU calls this the freest period of his life, a time when he has been able to paint to his heart's content and create relatively large-scale works in his garage studio. When Lesley MA visited his studio, she observed that subjects and compositions in KU's southern California paintings show a tendency toward simplification, his human figures exhibiting an even more Zen-like quality while the works as a whole have a highly musical atmosphere. Sometimes KU even cuts out human or animal figures already painted on one canvas to paste on the other, setting the newly added images into relief on the canvas and enticing the viewer to read the meaning of the work from new angles. The prejudice that in Western art divides pure art from kitsch, or that in traditional China refused to allow the literati painters to associate with either artists among the ordinary people or the official court painters of the Imperial Palace, is one that KU has here broken through. As WANG pointed out, KU’s works in his later years have turned bright and lively and diverged from its mundane and restrained limitations. His paintings not only celebrate the body and youth, but also the sacred land of flowers, full of joy and rejoicing the power of life, just like the poetry of life.