© 2011 BHVU



WEN WU - Vivien Leigh Complex

29th January - 20th February 2011

BHVU is delighted to present a solo exhibition by London based artist Wen Wu. Titled 'Vivien Leigh Complex', this exhibition will feature a new series of paintings and installations inspired from Wen Wu''s teenage infatuation and love for the English actress Vivien Leigh.

Vivien Leigh, her name is pronounced in Chinese as 'Fei Wen Li'. It started when I was 14, and up to this very day, whenever I hear those three syllables my heart is touched by love. I first saw her when I was much younger, maybe 12, I was watching a TV show which included a 5 minute scene from 'Gone With The Wind', I saw Scarlet throwing a vase at Rhett Butler and I was shocked by her beauty and character, It was a kind of unexplainable love at first sight and I asked who is she? and what’s name of the film?, but there was no information to help me to find out and I had no one to ask.

Two years later, in the summer time of my 2nd year at middle school, my mother bought the Gone With The Wind novel for me. I read the novel and was surprised to find out that the scene came from this book. At the same time I found a treasure in my auntie’s black wooden box, I found hundreds of old movie magazines! The magazines were from 1980-1984. Then I finally found out that the actress was called Vivien Leigh, so every afternoon, when everyone else was asleep, I went into the sunny yard and cut out all the information about her and stuck it in my scrap book.

In China, I had no way to see the film so I had to wait two more years until the Chinese new year’s eve, then I turned on a TV channel to see the full 'Gone With The Wind' film. I could now finally see her in the film, I had been waiting for what seemed like an age for a young girl and I had no one to share my anxious waiting or excitement with. I continued to spend all my pocket money on movie magazines, and if I saw a page with Vivien on it I would tear it out to keep. I thought about Vivien a lot and painted her so much that I no longer needed to copy an image when painting her as her face was etched in my mind.

Concerning myself; I was as born as a little girl who had the ability to perceive the beauty of human beings, I was particularly obsessed about those people with beautiful faces and from the age of 4 I began to draw innocent princesses and fairies. A few years later I was forced to paint and draw in a very regulated way, as was the method of teaching children like me. I was no longer allowed to use my free imagination to imagine worlds, as I had to paint monotone geometric shapes day after day.  This was so that I could learn how to paint things in 3 dimensions with the correct perspective. This was the pattern for the rest of my art education in China, much of the fun was taken out of the artistic process and replaced with rigorous methodical procedures, required to pass the frequent technical examinations. In addition I was required to study other subjects in the same manner with at least 4 exams for each subject every year. My teenage years were full of stress and repression which extended into the spheres of politics, sex, philosophy, and social interactions. I felt restricted and could not breathe in such an atmosphere.

Wen Wu, 2010


Wen Wu lives and works in London. She has exhibited widely, most recently in Seoul and Beijing at the end of 2010. Her work has featured in many group shows in London and internationally.

More of Wen Wu's work can be seen at : www.wenwu.co.uk