• Wesley Tongson: Untitled (detail), Spiritual Mountain series, 2012; ink on paper, finger painting; 96 x 49 in.

  • Wesley Tongson: Untitled (detail), Mountain of Heaven series, 2000; ink and color on board; 28 x 38 in.

Tea Time Thursday: Julia White on Wesley Tongson

Open to Curator’s Circle members at the $1,000 level and above


Senior Curator for Asian Art Julia White and Wesley Tongson's sister, Cynthia Tongson, will discuss her late brother's life as an artist and the upcoming exhibition Song and Dance with Brush and Ink: The Art of Wesley Tongson.


Song and Dance with Brush and Ink debuts a recent gift to BAMPFA of eleven paintings by the Hong Kong artist (1957–2012). Tongson’s work draws heavily on traditional Chinese painting techniques and processes but takes them a step farther to create a unique personal expression that is wholly his own. This exhibition combines Tongson’s works with historic paintings from BAMPFA’s extensive Chinese painting collection to demonstrate the relationship between his genius and that of past masters. The exhibition title evokes Tongson’s highly lyrical brushwork and his exuberant style of painting, which included large-scale landscapes and intricately patterned, dense examinations of the natural world. His experimentation in painting with his hands and fingernails finds precedence in the works of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century masters, such as Gao Qipei, while his dramatic use of splash color treatment seems in harmony with Zhang Daqian’s work of the mid-twentieth century.


Chinese painting is Senior Curator for Asian Art Julia White’s primary field of expertise. She has curated numerous exhibitions, including the recent groundbreaking BAMPFA presentation Repentant Monk, which focused exclusively on the late Ming painter Chen Hongshou. For Song and Dance with Brush and Ink, Julia will have the opportunity to combine her deep interest in classical Chinese painting with the work of the great but not well-known modern master Wesley Tongson.


This is the fifth installment of our biweekly online conversation series for Curator’s Circle members, a collection of online events that offer insights from and Q&A’s with our curators. Please join us online at 4 PM every other Thursday for these intimate conversations. This event is open to Curator’s Circle members at the $1,000 level and above. Space is limited, and reservations will be taken on a first come, first served basis. Registered participants will receive an email with a secure event link on June 23. 


Please contact Director of Special Events Masha Berek at mberek@berkeley.edu for more information or to register.