Lorenz Helbling on Wed, 12 Apr 2000 17:43:57 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Wei Guangqing: Virtuous Words, extended

WEI GUANGQING: Zeng Guang Xian Wen 
(The Extended Virtuous Words, extended once more) 

at ShanghART, 2a Gaolan Rd. Shanghai. 

opening today, Wednesday, April 12, 6-8 pm.

exhibition of the complete series of 12 works by Wei Guangqing 
created 1998/99  

a catalog is available

for a preview please visit www.shanghart.com


Wei Guangqing, born 1963, lives and works in Wuhan. Since 1988 he
participated at many exhibitions around the world, including 'Global
Conceptualism: Points of Origin' in the Queens Museum of Art, Brooklyn,
last year.


'The Extended Virtuous Words', originally named 'Old Virtuous Words' and
'Old Time Virtuous Words' or briefly 'The Extended'.

It is not known who first wrote them and when. It is said that the
original version was compiled by a scholar in the mid Ming Dynasty, and
then added by later people. It became very popular ever since the late
Qing Dynasty, and penetrated into every corner of the society. It is
said 'Reading "The Extended" makes one articulate'.

The terse, easy reading, memorable verses were taken by many as a
life-time asset. It consists of sayings from all walks of life and
different kinds of styles, including religious and secular, governing
and reclusive, and sayings for officials, farmers, workers and business
people; the styles vary from elegant to vulgar, direct to implied,
persuasive to deterring, and the old to the trendy languages. (from the


If Wei Guangqing's "Hong Qiang" (Red Wall) paintings seem oddly static,
even banal at first glance, look again, for things are not as simple as
they appear to be. A master of conceptual disjunction, Wei eschews lyric
effect for a quiet subversion that nudges gently at the moral or
ideological systems that imprison our thoughts.  Atop the Wuhan
painter's signature Pop wall, Confucian ideals falter into kitsch,
symbols topple into deconstructed signs, and representation is routed,
nakedly, into just another formal system. 

Like many of his contemporaries, Wei - who studied oil painting at the
Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts --has taken on the project of welding
Western modern art to traditional Chinese painting, to forge together
two seemingly disparate traditions on the pictorial plane.  Unlike many
of them, the artist steadily rejects expressions of the self to recycle
the recycled, in the best of postmodern tradition, seeking to illuminate
the conventions we live by. Seven years ago, he happily hit upon the red
brick wall in the artistic scramble for a visual "trademark" (so
necessary for marketing one's oeuvre in these logo-laden times), and
since then, has painted variations on top of the theme of its grid. 

Striking, often surreal, juxtapositions of a repertoire of readymade
images, sliding from the primly moralistic to the unabashedly
pornographic, set forth a visual map of a historically walled-off nation
that flirts, at times, with modernity on the surface, but remains
impervious to penetration below. 


Fellow artists from Cai Guoqiang to Wang Jin onward, to be sure, have
seized on the icon of the wall for its richness as a symbol of
tradition-bound or new consumerist China (not least the Great Wall, for
site-specific performances).  But Wei's particularly cerebral rendition
of the wall is concerned, not so much with the object itself as with the
concept of the wall, even as it manages the tricky feat of being both
Pop icon and ancient Chinese moral symbol, both representation of the
prison of "China" and prism that illuminates the prison of convention.
Even the English word "China," tacked a bit facetiously at the bottom of
most of the red wall paintings in white block letters, turns resolutely
mysterious after viewed for the third or fourth time, hinting that the
concept of "China" is as much linguistic as it is one determined by
outside perception, however false such a definition may be.

In Wei's newest 12-painting series "Zeng Quang Xian Wen" (Virtuous
Words), a popular Qing Dynasty children's primer of the same title is
set forth, enlarged, in its entirety, but while the pictorial tableaux
remains virtually unaltered, the original text that accompanied the
sketches has been tiled up with red bricks.... (Grace Fan) 

ShanghART at ART BASEL: June 21-26, 2000, Hall 2.1 # H03

Next exhibition at ShanghART: 
April 26 - Mai 5, 2000
For further information please contact ShanghART:
Tel: (86-21) 6359 3923  Fax: (86-21) 6359 4570 
e-mail: shangart@uninet.com.cn   

ShanghART,   2A Gaolan  Shanghai  200020  P.R. China

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