Fou Gallery presents Wei Jia's latest solo exhibition Good Times with NEW YORK - Chambers Fine Art. 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”.
Wei Jia, No. 19245, 2021. Gouache, Ink and Xuan Paper Collage on Paper, 29 1/2 x 26 1/4 inches. ©Wei Jia, courtesy of Fou Gallery and Chambers Fine Art
Wei Jia, No. 19246, 2021. Gouache, Ink and Xuan Paper Collage on Paper, 68 7/8 x 42 inches. ©Wei Jia, courtesy of Fou Gallery and Chambers Fine Art
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.
Wei Jia, No. 20258, 2021. Gouache, Ink and Xuan Paper Collage on Paper, 64 3/4 x 27 1/4 inches. ©Wei Jia, courtesy of Fou Gallery and Chambers Fine Art
Wei Jia, No. 21289, 2021. Gouache, Ink and Xuan Paper Collage on Paper, 38 1/2 x 24 1/4 inches. ©Wei Jia, courtesy of Fou Gallery and Chambers Fine Art
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.
Wei Jia, No. 20256, 2021. Ink and Xuan Paper Collage on Paper, 14 1/8 x 12 1/4 inches each. ©Wei Jia, courtesy of Fou Gallery and Chambers Fine Art
Wei Jia, No. 19250, 2021. Gouache, Ink and Xuan Paper Collage on Paper, 20 3/4 x 30 inches. ©Wei Jia, courtesy of Fou Gallery and Chambers Fine Art
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 giving our present moment an unforgettable luster, resonant with the past?
About the artist
Wei Jia (b.1957, Beijing, China) 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. 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).
About the exhibition
Curator: Lynn Hai
Fou Gallery: June 19–August 22, 2021
Chambers Fine Art: June 24–August 13, 2021
Fou Gallery Open House: June 26&27, 2021, 3–6pm; Location: 410 Jefferson Ave #1, Brooklyn, NY 11221
Chambers Fine Art Open House: June 24, 2021, 3–6pm; Location: 55 East 11th St, 5th Fl, New York, NY 10003
Courtesy of the artist and Fou Gallery.