Fang Wei, an experimental painter, graduated from the Shanghai Arts and Crafts College in 1986. His recent body of work, consisting of colorful expressive paintings of varying sizes, masterfully showcases the fluidity of watercolor by using oil paint on pure cotton BFK canvas. Common for artists in China from his generation, he studied traditional Chinese calligraphy as a child which has had a lasting impact on his artistic style.
The vibrant paintings in the exhibition depict indistinct humanoid figures in lush expansive landscapes and painted in fluid washes. Tendrils, flowers and branches of the vegetation in the landscapes, extend and mimic body postures and limbs while at times merging the protagonists with their backgrounds. These pictures are invented spaces of the unconscious and are based on interpreted mental images such as memories and the imagination, which he values them for their fragmented nature, unclear and indecipherable. Escaping the bustling megapolis, the artist would also make regular trips to the countryside and the great outdoors which also serve as inspiration for his works.
The painting process for Fang Wei is considered as a daily ritual. Prior to starting a new work, he would spend time preparing himself physically, as though he was regulating breathing before a boxing match. At times, in a traditional manner, he would sketch before painting. Looking at a close association between the bodily functions and the act of painting, his approach highlights physical and mental concentration requires to command a painting such as controlling breathing, blood pressure and mental states. Similar to traditional Chinese calligraphy, this approach highlights the spiritual dimension of painting.
FANG WEI – HIDDEN EARTH 隐形之地