Zhang Wenwei (张文伟) paints Surrealist inspired works depicting faceless figures and life-sized mannequins in dream-like spaces. The figures appearing either distressed or lonely, wander stark terrains or rest in simple furniture and glass vitrines, undisturbed by their bizarre surroundings. With a controlled palette of neutral hues, washes of oil paint are layered on wooden panels in which the artist carefully combines the wood’s grains into the compositions.
A variety of magnificent natural landscapes such as oceans, seas and mountains have always been referred to as symbols for the idea of freedom and opportunity. Though seascapes and landscapes in Wenwei’s artworks are not entirely straightforward; they are puzzling spaces, being interior and exterior simultaneously, they suggest to the deceptive nature of representation in painting implied famously by René Magritte’s perplexing pipe in The Treachery of Images (1928-29).
Therefore, Wenwei’s paintings are pictures that explore the idea of the fluctuating understanding of space, illusionary spaces trapped within the boundaries of the painted surface. The artist, with a refined painterly skill is able to create either an almost endless expanse of imagined space for which his anonymous figures are able to roam or trap them in sparse rooms with the visual suggestions that they could be outdoors. Being instantaneously confined and free, his human “puppets” are either lost in their infinite freedom or contented with the security of confinement, they appear as vital features of the landscapes.