Universal Things Examine——Wei Ligang Retrospective 1996-2016

Preface

 

Being3 Gallery is honored to present “Universal Things Examine: Wei Ligang Retrospective1996-2016,” our first exhibition of 2016, opening on March 19. With generous support from institutional and private collections, this exhibition brings together and catalogs over one hundred forty of Wei's experimental creations in various genres and media, providing a comprehensive study of the artist's oeuvre. From the very beginning of his artistic career, Wei has avidly explored the abstract imagination of oriental painting. In his fascinating choreography of brush, ink, and hand stroke, or what one might call the “East wing of theglobal history of abstractionism,” is found a serious examination of, and deliberation on, important cultural considerations.

 

It  is from his early years of traditional calligraphy practice and later study of Western abstract painting that Wei explored and developed his artistic identity. From an engagement with Eastern thinking, he has established a recognizable personal style with distinct visual characteristics. Wei’s artistic practice has been tremendously enriched by diverse Chinese calligraphicstyles: the Oracle Bone Script (jiaguwen), Bronze Inscriptions (jinwen), the Clerical Script of Han (hanli), the Regular Script (kaishu), the Semi-cursive Script (xingshu), and the Cursive Script (caoshu). He broke down their extant forms and reconstructed them as square-like characters that became his signature “Wei Block.” This as well led to the creation of a unique scriptstyle called “Golden Cursive,” where the gold prominently foregrounds the flowing ink strokes in an elevating manner and reflects the artist's ardent pursuit of the magnificent and sublime. Wei then extended this reformation by removing Chinese characters entirely from his work. The abutting circles that emerged through this process perform a calculated play of elements and lead to a successive reduction of numbers, as with the “Peacock” series, in which highly abstract forms of golden branches and plum blossom rise out of a structural extraction of code.With his dedication to the study and advancement of modern calligraphic art,Wei makes his mark in the history of art.

 

Whether it is with the floridity of golden paint, the stream of inky strokes, or the strength of angular symbols, Wei's works project a powerful air of solemnness.The force of art comes to life in the contrast of color and the configuration of emblems. One would be mistaken to consider Wei's abstract art as an appropriation of Western methodologies or a derivative of the East. To the contrary, he is exploring new possibilities after studying the progression of ideas in the tradition of Western abstract painting as well as the rich and long-standing qualities of Eastern ink painting. There are two challenges: atendency to be influenced superficially by the form of Western abstractionism,and the fettering laws of ancient Chinese art. An in-depth analysis of Western abstractionism and a profound understanding of ink-art history enable Wei to revive the tradition and conceive of new forms. In a fashion similar to the rebellion that abstract painting brought to representational art, Wei's works poses a thoroughly modern response to the ancient art of calligraphy.

 

Therefore,Wei's works also pose a challenge of appreciation to the viewer; his art doesnot stay in the comfort zone of tradition, nor does it confine itself to established concepts of Western abstract painting. Originating from the reality of an individual and a culture, it expands our horizon. We believe the three-month-long exhibition will provide the public with a satisfying andstandard-raising experience. 

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