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No. 0666--Zhang Xu

Wei Jia, who was born in Beijing in 1957, received his B.F.A. in 1984 from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and his MA in Studio arts in 1987 from Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania. His knowledge of Chinese traditional calligraphy and brushwork developed from an early intensive study of traditional painting, calligraphy, and literature with his teacher, Zhang Boju. Wei has always been intrigued by the subtle play of positive and negative space in traditional Chinese painting and fascinated by the delicate texture, translucent quality and fine shades of white in Chinese paper. He began to use paper and the techniques of mounting as a means of self-expression. Simultaneously, he commenced re-exploring traditional Chinese calligraphy together with the contemporary art of minimalism. From this fertile field Wei created a painting series, a continuing project entitled Calligrapher Series.

No. 0666--Zhang Xu, 52 x 52 in., gouache, pastel, ink and xuan paper collage on canvas, 2006.

It is quite evident that Chinese calligraphy inspires Wei Jia’s Calligrapher Series, from which we exhibit his twelve most recent works. The flowing ideograms of calligraphy are a perfect form of abstract art suggesting the abstract beauty of line, rhythm, structure, movement and form. The meaning and the context of the characters are insignificant. Indeed, some of the finest ancient calligraphy when translated is nothing more than a to-do list. Furthermore, it is important to recognize that the objective of Wei Jia’s ongoing project is not the artistic reproduction of the ancient characters; for that, credit must be extended to the most famous calligraphers in Chinese art history. In Wei Jia’s painting, the calligraphy of famous ancient Chinese calligraphers appears mostly as fragments of art forms instead of as complete poems and essays as in the original works. The characters are stunning in their visual range, faithfully copied from masters who worked as early as 350 AD. The enlarged characters are painstakingly outlined and filled in by the artist using graphite, pastel and gouache to paint or draw the calligraphy in the manner of ancient masters on layers of paper of various shapes mounted on canvas. Wei Jia is interested only in what the characters evoke, what they suggest. Unmoored from their burden of conveying specific meaning, his characters relax into personalities, flighty finger looping tails, proud architectural structures, elegant flowing rivers, giving the ancient forms freshness and immediacy.

The aim of Wei Jia’s art is to create the space within which the characters live. His purpose is to explore the surrounding space, not as an empty domain, but rather as full of essence, a seething evanescence of particle creations and annihilations, an eventful, energetic space that resonates with feeling and fills the eye. Wei Jia’s abstract spatial explorations are related to surface textures and color, ways of configuring the optically perceived space on canvas. In Wei Jia’s art, empty space, the area devoid of calligraphy, is the positive space, filled, textured, teeming with the freedom to explore. And explore he does, and as he explores, the freedom for self-expression brings him closer to himself. Wei Jia, encouraged by his freedom, draws, covers over, and draws again, and in the resulting translucence with traces of what went before, the filmy textural haze of the surface and the shadow of the calligraphy beneath, he allows us access to his process and to his intellect.

No. 0669--Yan Zhenqing, 52 x 52 in., gouache, ink and xuan paper collage on canvas, 2006.

No. 0669--Yan Zhenqing

Made in Beijing Forward Slash New York emerged as a title for this exhibition because many of these paintings were literally created by Wei Jia in a Beijing studio and shipped to New York. Yet, in another deeper sense, the title refers to Wei Jia, the artist, born in Beijing but living in New York, studying art first in China then in America, listening to echoes from the past while gathering inspiration from contemporary surroundings, moods, and certain Western artists like Cy Twombly and Kasimir Malevich, and, in his own voice from his own heart by his own hand, creating art of pure feeling that is infinitely rewarding.

No. 50--Zhang Xu VI

No. 50--Zhang Xu VI, 52 x 52 in., ink, graphite pencil, gouache, pastel, and xuan paper collage on canvas, 2006.

No. 0664--Zhang Xu

No. 0664--Zhang Xu, 52 x 52 in., gouache, pastel and xuan paper collage on canvas, 2006.


2006 Solo Exhibition, China 2000 Fine Art, New York; Summer Rotation II, Amy Simon Fine Art, CT; East Transplanted West, Kean University, NJ; Brooklyn, Westport Arts Center, CT; New Chinese Occidentalism—Chinese Contemporary Art in New York, Ethan Cohen Fine Arts, New York.
2005 Lin Yan + Wei Jia, WFA Art, New York; Summer Rotation, Amy Simon Fine Art, CT.
2004 Solo Exhibition, Schmidt / Dean Gallery, Philadelphia, PA.
2003 The Paper Chase – Creations in Paper by Contemporary Chinese Artists, China 2000 Fine Art, New York; Small World, China 2000 Fine Art, New York.
2002 Contemporary Brushstrokes – New York Artists from China, China 2000 Fine Art, New York; Solo Exhibition, Schmidt / Dean Gallery, Philadelphia, PA.
2000 Art Span - Three generations: Nine Artists in One Family. Shanghai Biennial, China.
1999 Spring Group Show, M. Y. Art Prospects, New York; Solo Exhibition, Schmidt / Dean Gallery, Philadelphia, PA.
1997 Solo Exhibition, Schmidt / Dean Gallery, Philadelphia, PA.
1996 Contemporary Asian Art in New York, New York; Contemporary Chinese Art, Michael Goedhuis Gallery, London, England; International Asian Art Fair – Michael Goedhuis Gallery at the International Asian Art Fair, New York; Mandarin Fine Arts Gallery, Hong Kong; Schmidt / Dean Gallery, Philadelphia, PA.
1995 Recent Paintings by Chinese-American Artists, The Cork Gallery, Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, New York; Man Woman Child / Husband Wife Son, Gallery Contempo-Jubilee Arts Center, NYC; Solo Exhibition, Schmidt / Dean Gallery, Philadelphia, PA.
1992 Solo Exhibition, Schmidt / Dean Gallery, Philadelphia, PA; Duo-Show, Z Gallery, New York; Miami International Art Expo, Miami Beach Convention Center, Miami, FL; Second Spring: Contemporary Chinese Painting & Sculpture, Founders Gallery, University of San Diego, San Diego, CA; University Art Gallery, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA.
1990 Twin Cranes Gallery, Seattle, WA; Art Exhibition by Pang’s Family, Lung Men Art Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan.
1989 Group Exhibition, Schmidt / Dean Gallery, Philadelphia, PA; Duo-Show, Schmidt / Dean Gallery, Philadelphia, PA.
1985 National Youth Art Exhibition, National Museum of Art, Beijing, China.
1977 Beijing City Art Exhibition, National Museum of Art, Beijing, China.

© 2006 Copyright for China 2000 Fine Art


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