Zhu Wei, ‘开春图十五号; Vernal Equinox, No. 15’, 2006, Linda Gallery

Series: Vernal Equinox (2005-2008)

The Vernal Equinox series was Zhu Wei’s major creative project from 2005 to 2008. In this series, the composition of the painting draws reference from the images of the classical Chinese famille-rose porcelains, interspersed with little human figures. Ever since the 1990s, Zhu Wei showed great concern for politics, stemming from his personal involvement in the People’s Liberation Army. But as time passes, and as Zhu Wei grows more distant from his previous experience in the military, the political overtones in his works become more muted than before. The Vernal Equinox series in 2005 marks a new beginning for Zhu Wei. By adopting a down-to-earth expression and a humorous disposition, Zhu Wei’s commentary on ideology has become more subdued. What is more apparent now is his concern for humanity and one’s living conditions. At the same time, Zhu Wei’s studies of traditional Chinese culture, such as Chinese literature, poetry, and lyrics, also lend the Vernal Equinox series a taste of Chinese antiquity.
The expression on the figures’ faces are impassive yet they are nevertheless varied; some register glum indifference, others distress or surprise, yet more show satisfaction. Their hands are tucked into their pockets or sleeves, the figures’ builds are mixed and diverse. Though they are inconsistent, the sense of space and time are not the main subject in these paintings; rather, the messages of empathy carried by the educated elite, and strands of social criticism, are clearly pronounced. Zhu Wei’s awareness of the weight that words and images of both traditional and modern China, make his art both fascinating and obscure – the nuances are deeply imbedded in layered allusions and minute details.

About Zhu Wei