Album paintings (ce ye) are a visual form of literati traditionally confined to the scholarly only. They can be viewed up close, or be collected into books for easy collection and viewing. The central theme of Zhu Wei’s Album of Vernal Equinox are peaches, which symbolizes good fortune, prosperity, and a smooth career progression in Chinese culture. Peaches are undoubtedly one of the most understandable symbols to the Chinese, from both the rich to the poor, for the refined and for popular tastes. Zhu Wei’s choice of peaches as the central theme for Album is due to its easy accessibility and its significance as a symbol of good fortune to the Chinese. The paintings in Album could be seen as a case of the deep imprint left by traditional painting and calligraphy in the consciousness of the Chinese people, even up to today. Zhu Wei’s works also incorporates his thoughts and self-reflection of the morals and value system of Chinese society.
What is worth noting too is that in painting Album, Zhu Wei elected to use an Chinese interior brush technique called “cun ca,” to add a sense of movement and swaying to the peaches, a symbol that is usually depicted with the utmost detail and technicality. Zhu Wei’s fresh approach to ink painting coincidentally reflects his complicated feelings regarding the traditional and the contemporary – “How can painting better express the needs and wants of emotions? Is the problem about tradition and contemporaneity a moot one?”
About Zhu Wei
Chinese, b. 1966, Beijing, China, based in Beijing, China