Zhang Wei 張偉, born in Guangzhou China in 1964, he graduated from the High School of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 1984, then he has his BFA from the Oil Painting Department of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 1988. He has his MFA degreed from the oil painting department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2000, and became an associate professor of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 2002. Since 2019, he has been the vice president of the secondary school of Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts.
Wei mainly practices oil painting and water color painting through his career, his is the one of representative contemporary painters of documentary-painting since 1990s in China. He documented ordinary people, such as students in his working school, friends, families, workers, peasantries, as well as ordinary landscape, still life etc. His painting express the nowness of the ear of our life, the present view of contemporary world .
His works have been collected by the Hong Kong Baptist University, the Hong Kong Museum of History, the Lausanne Olympic Museum, the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts Museum, the Lingnan Painting School Memorial of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, the Guangdong Academy of Fine Arts, the Pearl River Museum, the Gu Yuan Museum, and the Jing Yuan Museum.
Guo Zilong 郭子龙 graduated from Tsinghua University in 2002 with a BFA degree in metal art design. Then he graduated from Beijing University of Technology with a MFA degree in digital art in 2013. Currently teaching at the Department of Arts and Crafts, School of Art and Design, Beijing University of Technology. He mainly teaches metal furnishings design, decorative sculpture, comprehensive material design, materials and technology, and metal decoration design. He has been engaged in artistic creations such as sculpture, painting and metal materials for years. His works have been collected by Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong collectors, the EU ambassador to China, and the Swiss ambassador to China.
Guo Zilong is an artist who is difficult to classify. His creative methods and works are not typical sculptures or installations, especially his recent series of graphic works, which have further blurred the boundaries of artistic forms. Guo Zilong embodies his thoughts on the concepts of “authenticity” and “nature” in a lot of complicated manual labor. His dedication to independent production and nearly strict requirements on the level of craftsmanship are also manifestations of his artistic concept.
Large Bonsai | Bronze and Stainless steel | 350cm height | 2015
Alocasia | Stainless steel and live plant | 340cm height | 2015
Bamboo forest | Stainless steel and live plant | L500cm×W500cm×H350cm | 2015
Bamboo forest （detail） | Stainless steel and live plant | L500cm×W500cm×H350cm | 2015
Bamboo forest （detail） | Stainless steel and live plant | L500cm×W500cm×H350cm | 2015
Investigation of thing- Bamboo | Stainless steel and bamboo | 150cm×150cm | 2014
Investigation of thing- Bamboo （detail） | Stainless steel and bamboo | 150cm×150cm | 2014
Do I mean that Zhang Wei couldn’t grow up? Why does it matter whether he has grown up as he’s almost 50 year old?
“Zhang Wei has grown up”, means he has got a great success in conducting his mature works, and acquiring his unique thinking after decade’s hard efforts devoted to oil painting. His face is no longer young, gradually, wrinkled by ages. His expression is no longer rash, accompanied with sophisticated smile.
Zhang Wei’s personal exhibition is a significant mark to manifest his growth.
Why there exists a problem to Zhang’s growth? This is almost concerned with his eternal theme of youth in his oil painting. Since he stepped into the circle of oil painting, he has been sticking to the theme of youth, including not only behavior and expressions of teenagers, but also restlessness and unease of adolescence, delight and abandon of youth, hope and eager of bloom. In a word, youth is the perpetual theme with which Zhang Wei is concerned, and also, youth is the object to narrate, as well as the content to analyze.
At one time, Zhang Wei expressed his will through thematic creation. Later, he began to sketch his students, one or several students, on big canvas. Once finished, the works will never be modified so that he could keep the feeling and vividness on the spot.
Sketch, which is always finished in class, from drawing to color, is the art basic of realism in academy. So, the so-called academism, in some sense, is a style based on the sketch class. And that’s why the sketch class is easy to become a mode, which both hinders the development of taste, and fixes the road to creation. Thus, for those who grow up only obeying the teaching rules in academy, their works, which affect the whole features directly, are full of intense sense of pedant, and can’t help but become stiff or even fixed. What’s worse, this kind of sketch is far away from the nature of itself, as repetitive ways of facing the objects.
But compared with the mode above, which is called academism, Zhang Wei’s sketch is subversion. Its meanings are as follows: firstly, getting rid of the style of exercise-in-class. He manages it through maintaining the feeling of sketching on the spot. Secondly, emphasizing the sense of randomness or even incompleteness in composition. This makes the characters deviated, breaking the balance of composition. Thirdly, led by expressiveness, and highlighting the stylistic meaning of pictorial nature. This shows that the works are finished immediately.
In other words, Zhang Wei tries to revival the real sketch, making it real aesthetic with prompt implication. In his view, all of these match the thematic requests of youth better, bringing the youth more rational colors.
Therefore, he chooses models from students only, who are in the period of adolescence.
I guess, while sketching, he may often recall his own life experience, like the emotion and situation belonging to that growing period.
“Young we were schoolmates, at life’s full flowering; filled with student enthusiasm, boldly we cast all restraints aside. These words, said by Chairman Mao when he was young, are in accordance with Zhang Wei’s values. And also, they point out his exact pursuit. Teenage students, in Zhang Wei’s mind, is the essence of growth itself, and in it, youth is of course one of the meanings.
For a long time, Zhang Wei 張偉 has been sticking to his view of Youth, which could be found in his oil painting practice. In my opinion, his view of youth was formed at the time when he pursued his education, and came with the artistic trend, which reshaped dreams of youth and happened in the 1990s. This trend, which was called “new generation”, was a common inner aesthetic goal to artists born in the 60s. Nowadays, this trend has become a history, and artists who were famous for involving in the trend are well-known all around the world. But it seems that a careful research and study of this trend has not really started. At least, in terms of artistic situation, art criticism has focused too much attention on central areas, like Beijing, neglecting the situations in other similar areas.
As far as the creation, there truly exist a great contrast between the so-called “new generation” trend and the previous Chinese oil painting field, marked with “grandeur narrative”. This trend was a successful revolt to get rid of ideology, as well as a successful try out of traditional motifs in the new age. Non-ideology and anti-grandeur motif are two obvious features in Zhang Wei’s works. Firstly, Zhang Wei abandons all the ways to express “great meaning”, and doesn’t stick to the stereotype of “typical details”.
Secondly, he gives up the alleged “conscious of adult”, seldom or doesn’t care about social great changes at all, and no longer portrays “impulses of the times” in oil paintings. He only chooses scenes and people that are firmly connected with his own life. On the Other Side, created in the early 90s, is one of the examples. The hue of this picture is pure, and the composition is concise. With a frame of geometric form, nearly in black and white, a girl is walking sideways to the ambiguous shadow (outside the picture). Whether the artist, I wonder, wished to use this paradoxical way to express a kind of ambivalent mood between hesitation and passion to the vitality of life in the peak period of adolescence. If compared with the early works Horizon, On the other Side is a great leap for Zhang Wei, no matter in terms of technique or the extraction of motif. This shows that the painter has got a great change, from suffering typical sickness of youth into considering problems in youth.
Later, the reflections were substituted by even more flushed emotions. A series of works created after 2000 years has showed that the artist preferred to show a more enthusiastic and open attitude towards external characteristics of youth, rather than go into sorrow or even frustration. The picture, In Good Mood , describes three active and wild teenagers with bright colors, smooth strokes, and rigorous form. In The Age of Youth , sorrow is superficial, rather a kind of loneliness of happiness. Attraction and Rainbow reveal a sexy scene of vigorous version. In the Sun, The Beautiful Years , Our Future is not Dream, Aim High, Go Ahead, and You Will Win and Frozen Warmth, which was painted in 2006 with a series of young female figures as objects, express ease in their expressions of no regret but superficial calm. This series of works are conducted with imagination and a kind of expression like sketch, which acts like Zhang Wei’s constant personal explanations about happiness and confusion, trying to give youth itself a visible form, a kind of lasting form which belongs to oil painting.
Over the past ten years of his creation of oil painting, I believe that, Zhang Wei himself has been in a situation of unspeakable struggle. His real struggle, I guess, is between the concept of youth including two-edged natures and his creation while he truly takes youth as the only motif to create. On the one hand, youth is a symbol of enthusiasm and effective carrier of vitality in life. On the other hand, youth is simple and impulsive, lacking mature twists and turns, easy to become a simplified symbol. Both carrier and symbol show us the difficulty of taking youth as object. From the modernism of the 20th century on, youth is certainly one of the important objects. Munch’s Puberty depicts a mature but un-plump naked girl, expressing anxiety and fear in adolescence. His another works called The Scream, highlights craziness and desperation in adolescent with a distorted environment and human figure. So, Munch’s expression of youth is a kind of dangerous yearning to danger rather than sentiment.
Conversely, in Matisse’s works, girl teenagers utterly have no signs of thinking, completely in the flattened world, showing their original figures. Particularly, this characteristic is expressed among a series of oil paintings taking dancing girl as the theme. Besides, Alex Katz, an American contemporary painter, with the use of a hard edge, advertised style, successfully shapes the situation of a newly born generation influenced by consumption in material times. In his painting, everything is of no need except beautiful colors and smooth figures.
The examples, I have listed above, are to present Zhang Wei’s uniqueness. His uniqueness is rooted in his own confusion. As he runs deeper into creation, especially with the rise of contemporarism and the success “new generation” got today, Zhang Wei is growing more and more confused. He is in Guangzhou, which makes him unable to compare with the situation in Beijing. The more popular the new generation is, the more fixed the concept of contemporary art becomes; yet the more away he is from this trend. Sticking to the motif of youth, he was disappointed to realize that he became marginalized day by day, as if he had never been into the trend. And then, one day, Zhang Wei suddenly found out the truth, that youth was not a motif totally, but a truly concrete object. He goes back to this object, using the most original, simplest and most direct ways—sketch, to seek the meaning of youth rather than creation.
This is the motive why Zhang Wei created a series of student portraits.
After ten more years’ practice, I think Zhang Wei has found himself back. He begins his work from objects. It’s the youth of objects, externalized and simplified natures from the teenagers themselves that become his initiated motive to create. Then, when he treated youth as a motif and went into the concept, he discovered that he could not find a real breakthrough. His creation was suspended in the middle stage, as if there existed the strength of youth. But the power was over decorated and spread on the works, which turned out to be thinking aloud with no strength. Now, when he arranges students one by one, all the boys and girls are sitting or standing in front of him, and from their faces, he reads a kind of anti-universal and original youth and abruptly gains a real unparalleled feeling.
The series of students portraits painted from 2006 till now are significant proofs that Zhang Wei goes back to face the object; Also, they are important trademarks of his breakthrough, making him a figure in oil painting field.
Originally, learning oil painting begins from sketch. However, sketch has been given too many meanings within a long period. And the meaning of sketch was lost, particularly when sketch became the way to weigh “creation”, and the word against “conservation”. The directness exists in sketch, and the first feeling while facing the object was destroyed and disintegrated by a series of packed, over disciplined doctrine of oil painting.
Strictly speaking, under this kind of doctrine, sketch in oil painting has been far away from its essence. Facing the objects, painters numbly repaint again and again with the learned ways; what’s more, they call it “aesthetics” or “style”. The disappearance of directness in sketch, in fact, is equal to the loss of object and feeling. At present, through sketch rather than creation, Zhang Wei re-finds concrete, thus real object, and the feeling on the spot, which turns the concept of youth back to real existence and object, makes the youth a visible fact, and brings them back to the spectators. This time, youth is no longer abstraction or concept; it is youth itself only, which exists on every face, vigorous, specific, vivid and funny. Also, with this direct method, Zhang Wei goes back to himself, converting the long restrained impulse of youth into concrete shapes and colors, and either wild and calm paintings.
The Immortal of Play exhibition, featuring Amy Chang and Wei Cheng, at gallery Canton-Sardine – in the heart of China Town, Vancouver, opened Sept. 27. This is not the first time that Amy (Li- chuan) Chang and Wei Cheng have collaborated on an exhibition. In December 2018, Wei presented a performance at the Chinese Cultural Centre, supported by the music of Selena Yu, and Amy created an installation of her ‘organic’ objects. It was a well-attended, adventurous and explorative exhibition, as is theImmortal of Play exhibit.The Canton-Sardine is a good-sized gallery with a high ceiling, in the basement of the Sun Wah building on the 200 block of E. Keefer. Steven Dragonn, who curated this exhibit, founded the gallery in July 2018. It is a Vancouver based artist-run centre, focussed on contemporary art, open to publishing, performances and residencies, as well as exhibitions.Once again both artists have pushed boundaries. Amy constructs enticing, precise, irreverent assemblages that suggest inert machinery growing out of organic forms. Quoting from Dragonn’s gallery statement – “Amy Chang’s work takes inspiration from Steampunk, a genre of the 1980s/90s North American subculture … three levels of imitation find peculiar connections between the practical and the useless….”. The humour, inherent in the work, is offset by the rigour of Chang’s manufacture and her attention to detail.
Wei Cheng spoke of finding intriguing litter on her journeys to and from her studio. Layered within her spontaneous interplay with the material, and the firing process, she integrates these found objects in many of the pieces with an unusual restraint. Wei Cheng also spoke of using her intuition, as opposed to analyzing her interactions. A fraught and brave process. Dragonn wrote, “Cheng attempts to break apart from the shackles of ceramic’s inherent qualities….”
Wei’s process is hazardous and exposing, and Amy’s process is demanding and exacting. It would be hard to find two artists operating with such different methodologies, but whose work mysteriously sits sympathetically in the same space.Amy and Wei have also been exploring gallery options in the Lower Mainland, and opening up opportunities for other ceramic artists. See this exhibition and discover this intriguing gallery. The show runs till November 27 – it may be advisable to phone ahead. Enjoy a lunch or dim sum, while in China Town !!
About Debra Sloan Self-taught from 1973-79, Debra Sloan attended VSA – 1979-1982, and ECUAD – BFA – 2004. She has sat on all the provincial craft Boards, co-founded an archival website for the PGBC, supported by The BC History Digitization Project, and is collecting BC ceramics marks. She has adjudicated and taught extensively, including 21 years at the Shadbolt Arts Centre, and is one of the founders of WCCSA.Debra’s work has been represented in international exhibitions and magazines, and in 6 LARK 500 [NY] books. She recently published an article about contemporary ceramics of BC. Debra received a BC Arts Council Visual Arts Award, and a Circle Craft Co-op Scholarship for residencies at the International Ceramic Studio, Hungary. In 2014 Debra was artist-in-residence, at the Leach Pottery, St Ives, supported by FUSION, Ontario. She is represented in the Studio Ceramics Canada Website. In 2015 Debra attended a six week residency at C.R.E.T.A-Rome, supported by the Hilda Gerson Award, and was the Honouree for the 2015 Craft and Design Award from the Mayor’s Arts Awards [Vancouver].