Fresh Window Gallery is pleased to present Wei Xiaoguang: Humble, the first solo exhibition in the United States of Wei Xiaoguang’s paintings. Mining pop culture, art history, and commercial advertising for his source material, Wei creates paintings with a photographic clarity and realism that belies their complex layers of visual and conceptual contradictions. Often blending multiple perspectives and scales and emphasizing surface, texture and the effects of light, Wei’s compositions function as meditations on the interplay of illusion, representation and reality, an interplay that is the very essence of painting itself. Through a process that begins by constructing a digital collage of images of notable art historians and philosophers, commercial logos, Internet memes and expressionistic brushstrokes, which he then renders in paint, Wei creates crisp, beguiling canvases that brim with allusion and reference yet yield only a labyrinth of illogical juxtapositions and indeterminate meanings.
Wei’s pseudo-realist approach reflects the influence of his time as a student at the prestigious Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing, China, where he studied socialist realist painting techniques from 2006-2010. While at CAFA, Wei was exposed to the Western art historical canon by way of the pedagogical exercise of copying reproductions of masterworks found in books and catalogues—reproductions in which the nuance of texture, depth and tonal contrast of the original paintings was often lost in translation. Wei’s process of learning from reproductions that did not adhere to the authenticity of the original—a process in which the mediated copy shaped his aesthetic understanding more than the original—was a lesson that helped to establish the conceptual framework for his approach to painting and formed his enduring interest in the contingent and constructed layers of reality and representation.
If Wei’s finely rendered paintings celebrate the medium’s expressive and illusionistic power, they also question the nature of images and our contemporary relationship to them by confounding rather than clarifying our quest for meaning. Indeed, at nearly every turn Wei’s paintings calls attention to their true subject, representation, and its ongoing capacity to seduce, mystify and disrupt.
Born in 1986 in Inner-Mongolia Province, China, Wei Xiaoguang received his BFA from the Central Academy of Fine Art, Beijing China and his MFA from Hunter College in New York. The artist lives and works in New York.