We are pleased to announce that we will be presenting Wei Jia's latest solo exhibition Good Times in collaboration with Fou Gallery in New York. This is Wei Jia’s 17th solo exhibition in the United States. This exhibition will present representative works by Wei Jia from 2018 to 2021, marking another milestone in his artistic career as he continues to break new ground in creativity.
Since his teenage years, Wei Jia has immersed himself in traditional Chinese painting, calligraphy and poetry and has kept a true appreciation and enthusiasm for them. With a special love for Chinese handmade paper, he has been exploring and presenting the beauty of this material in his works since 1991. His works reveal the serendipity, time, and non-repetition of traditional Chinese calligraphy and painting, as well as the judgment and decision of the moment of creation, which he attributes to attaining the state of "wandering in the arts" as described in the Analects of Confucius, that is - he becomes “naturally immersed in art”. His past experience has become naturally and deeply imprinted in his creations. As a result, Wei’s contemporary artworks exude subtle and tranquil literati characteristics beneath their abstract and simple visual language. He creates his works by writing on and dyeing Chinese handmade paper, and then tears the paper up and re-patches the pieces, finding a balance in the interlocking combination of layers. Wei Jia believes that although his creations are profoundly connected to traditional Chinese art, they do not require the viewer to be familiar with Asian culture. Regardless of the viewer's background, the texture of the paper, the rendering of color, the combination of fields, and the presentation of pictorial relationships are the main points of appreciation when viewing Wei Jia's works.
The works in this exhibition are different from his previous series: they are all collages on paper, and almost none of them are drawn with a brush. The materials used in the collages are all fragments preserved from the painting process of different periods in the past, thus the process of creating these collages is like reviving the past and giving them new meaning. Some of the scattered thoughts and flashbacks that arise from the newly created works are recorded directly onto the works, written in Wei’s precise calligraphic script. Other memories are less coherent, more like ambiguous feelings that inspire his imagination and creativity. “Such a method is the most approachable," says Wei Jia, "everyone might pick up the pieces and put them together.” Since the artist did not use any painting techniques, his creations are not concerned with existing painting forms and styles, but simply present his heart in the most straightforward and improvised way. Wei Jia always denies that his works are obscure and intricate. On the contrary, he considers his works to be light-hearted and sincere expressions of his true feelings, naturally reflecting his incessant journeys and his relaxed and optimistic outlook on life.
The three works numbered No. 20258, No. 20265, and No. 21289 (all of Wei Jia's works are titled by number, where the first two digits are the year of creation) are combinations of rectangular blocks of color, of which No. 20258 and No. 20265 were inspired by memories of spring, and No. 21289 was made with a memory of the rich colors of Mexico City. The regular vertical rectangles are inspired by the form of the Spring Festival couplet, and present a new visual development in Wei Jia's work. No. 20277 is a combination of a few spots of ultramarine and blocks of pale scarlet that resemble the colors in Chinese painting, on which the artist has bluntly written "It’s nothing, I just like it" next to the colors. The warm color palette of No. 19250 takes its inspiration from the artist’s favorite begonias, and the text on the work resembles a verbose soliloquy, full of life's simplest pleasures. In contrast, No. 20256 is a collage of eight calligraphic sheets, each of which is cut in a regular geometric shape to face a different direction. The work thus expects the viewer to become disoriented in viewing the piece, drawing their attention to the unconventional orientation of the composition rather than on the content of the words themselves. Wei Jia attempts to cut the "complete" and the traces of sensual writing in a rational way, which is also a way to cut and deconstruct the viewing habits, textual contents and past experiences of traditional calligraphy.
Many of the works in this exhibition were created during Wei Jia's quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This isolated lifestyle gave him more time to carefully reflect upon and explore his own memories and experiences by organizing the collage fragments of his previous works. In other words, many of his works are a re-consideration and re-composition of his memories, as well as new memories created in the present. Wei Jia quotes an ancient lyric poem from the Five Dynasties period to analogize this rumination of memory: “Remembering the emerald skirt of my dream lover, everywhere touched by the fragrant grass.” Once one has experienced an unforgettable impression like that of the "emerald skirt" of his “dream lover”, then these feelings and memories will be repeated in one’s mind and reinvigorated every time they see lush greenery. Wei Jia's creations, interests and attitude toward life all reveal his natural disposition of being sincere, humble and spontaneous. He hopes that those who encounter his works will reflect upon their own ideas of culture: What is our culture? How do we see our own culture? How do we cherish and respect our own experiences and memories, while at the same time observe and appreciate our present moment and look forward to the unknown future as always?
Artist - Wei Jia (b.1957, Beijing, China)
Wei Jia practiced traditional calligraphy, Chinese painting and poetry from an early stage. Wei graduated with a B.F.A from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing (1984) and M.F.A. from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania (1987). He currently works and lives in New York and Beijing. The feeling of cultural displacement and coexistence of cultural identities led him to measure the influences from Eastern and Western cultures in his work. Wei draws his inspiration from traditional Chinese calligraphy and painting by the way of using hand made paper to make abstract collages, and tries to carry on the tradition.
Wei has had numerous solo and group exhibitions internationally, including Central Academy of Fines Arts (Beijing), National Museum of Art (Beijing), CU Art Museum University of Colorado at Boulder (Boulder, U.S.A.), Lincoln Center (New York), etc. His recent shows include The 8th International Ink Art Biennale of Shenzhen, Hua Art Museum, Shenzhen (2019); Blurred Boundaries, New York School of Interior Design Gallery, New York (2018); Wei Jia: Recent Work, Schmidt/Dean Gallery, Philadelphia (2017). In 2021, he will hold his 17th solo exhibition Good Times both at Fou Gallery and Chambers Fine Art (New York).
Curator - Lynn (Liang) Hai
After graduating from the Architectural Association (London), Hai gained her Master’s in Design Studies from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University (Boston). While being active as a curator and art writer in New York, she is a partner and the Art Director at Fou Gallery. Her curation and design includes: Chen Dongfan: Long Past Dawn, Pirates and Poets Whistle in the Dark (Fou Gallery, New York, 2020); Michael Eade: Past is Present is Future (Fou Gallery, New York, 2019); Dwelling At the Present Chinese Contemporary Interior Design Exhibition and Forum (Harvard Club, New York, 2019); Flow Fields - Confluence in Urban Picnic (Matedero, Madrid, 2013) and Flow Fields - Dilution in 2013 Lisbon Triennale (Sinel de Cordes Palace, Lisbon, 2013) et al. Her writings are published on art periodicals including ArtChina, CAFA Artinfo, Tussle Magazine and ArtPulse et al.
FOU GALLERY - Fundamentally believing that art is a way of life, Fou Gallery is dedicated to promoting the creative talents and projects of our time. Fou began with a basic recognition that contemporary art and culture must address critical real-life challenges faced by our society through holistic, sustainable, and spiritual practices. Fou represents an alternative to the commercial model of mainstream galleries, and serves as a habitat that nurtures a harmonious relationship between the earth and ourselves. In addition, Fou hosts artists’ talks, film screenings, music performances, spiritual healing workshops, and various culinary events to create a diverse art environment.
CHAMBERS FINE ART - is a contemporary art gallery located in New York. It was established by Christophe W. Mao in New York in 2000. Artists including Lu Shengzhong, Hong Hao, Song Dong and Yin Xiuzhen had their first solo exhibitions in the US with the gallery, and a younger generation of artists including Wu Jian’an, Zhao Zhao, Fu Xiaotong, and Guo Hongwei added different perspectives to the gallery profile. As it enters its third decade, the inclusion of non-Chinese artists into the gallery’s program indicates a widening of scope, a shifting of perspective. Now that Chinese art has been readily accepted and absorbed into the international discourse, Chambers aims to further enrich this dialog.
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