Portrait of the Week: Adroit Strokes Mean Everything


In this ongoing series, Fine Art Today delves into the world of portraiture, highlighting historical and contemporary examples of superb quality and skill. This week: “Man with Mustache” by a contemporary master whose name will not soon be forgotten.

Although recognized for his expressive and loose brushwork, contemporary master Zhaoming Wu makes every stroke count. Though they often appear fragmented and perhaps, to some, blurry, careful consideration of his works reveal details that continue to evoke a sense of wonder.

This week’s feature portrait is a superb example of not only Wu’s talent, but also a highlights how little our brains need to “get the picture.” Set against a gray-green background, a mustached man gazes out upon the viewer. He is wearing a dark cap and illuminated from just outside the upper right edge of the canvas. The sitter’s character and physiognomic details are captured with accuracy, sensitivity, and expression.

Close inspection of the canvas reveals how Wu has made every stroke matter. Consider the shadowed portion of the man’s face. Just below his eye are a handful of strokes in a warm red hue. At distance, these few strokes merge to form a beautiful flash of reflected light. Indeed, if one pays close attention, the entire visage is composed of similar strokes, from the man’s eyes, to his stylized mustache, pressed collar, and pierced lips.

All of Wu’s works produce similar, remarkable effects. With a keen eye for color and skillfully placed strokes of the brush, Wu captures an entire world of luminance, character, and so much more.

To learn more, visit Zhaoming Wu.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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