b. 1981, China

Wu Wei Biography

Wu Wei is a Chinese painter and mixed-media artist whose beastly canvases are covered with furry textures assembled from cut-out paper. Vivid in colour, they recall the skin of mythological creatures, blurring the boundaries between nature and artifice.

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Early Years

Born in Zhengzhou, Henan, Wu studied at Henan University, where he graduated with a BFA in 2004 before heading to the Department of Experimental Art at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, where he completed an MFA in 2012.

Wu Wei Artworks

Wu Wei's mixed-media works are recognised for their bright, furry textures. Organic in shape, they undulate on the surface of Wu's canvases, sculptures, and appropriated portraits.

Spiritual Contemplation

Wu's use of paper started with early book works like Tibetan Books (2012), a row of partially shredded books open to show cascading pages marked with dark ritualistic motifs.

Adapted from traditional paper-cutting methods, the artwork features the embroidery techniques of thangka, a type of Tibetan painting on cotton, to produce undulating bodies of fur seemingly growing from the surface.

Discarding the role of the book as a source of knowledge, Wu's work hints at a more tacit way of knowing that alludes to the physical experience of spirituality and the art object, understood and experienced through visualisation.

The same reference to spirituality can be found in Wu's later painted figures, distorted with the addition of fur and colour spatters. Among them, Contemplation (2019) is a portrait of a Renaissance woman with a bright red hole in the place of her face, framed by a crown of loose strands of white paper.

Material Resistance

Wu showed the exhibition Freedom From Resistance in 2020 at Tang Contemporary Art in Beijing, where he addressed the physical anaesthesia confronting the modern body in urban spaces.

Works on show included skeletal shapes and fluorescent shades of orange that drew the eye to their highly textured surfaces, evoking the material transformations and decay that come with industrialisation, development, and passive resignation.

Instead of the usual canvas, Wu used discarded car interiors in works like Typhon (2020), the skeleton of the automobile painted black, and Typhon-20 (2020), where parts of a car door interior is covered in black and bright orange fur.

Organic surfaces congregate on top of industrial structures in works like Crevices (2020), a panel covered in bright orange fur with narrow incisions, and Qiongqi (Monster) (2020), a blend of metal and paper sculpted into a hair beast mounted on a bare cubical cage.

Similar works like Mixed Pelage No.14 (2021), which features interlaced yellow fur made from paper on board, and Mixed Pelage No.15 (2021), its bright pink variation, appear as incubations of live matter, not entirely monstrous nor human.

Material and Form

Despite overlaying symbolism, Wu's canvases prioritise material and form to convey a more direct experience of spirituality through touch and visual encounter. In Wu's works, creaturely canvases are stripped from their mythologies, leaving viewers with furry forms stripped of narrative.

Accordingly, bright pink assemblages like Mixed Pelage No.15 (2021), and Hide-2 (2020), its yellow equivalent, disgust just as they fascinate. They draw attention to the beastly surfaces that reside and aggregate on the canvas, devoid of history, function, and significance.

Awards and Accolades

Wu Wei is the recipient of the 2015 New Artists Space Award and the 2012 New Star Art Festival Award.

Exhibitions

Wu Wei has shown widely in China, Europe, North America, and the U.K.

Select solo exhibitions include Tang Contemporary Art, Beijing (2021, 2020); XC.Hua Galleries, Beijing (2019, 2017); Whitebox Art Center, Beijing (2016); and NUOART Gallery, Beijing (2014).

Select group exhibitions include Art Shenzhen (2021); West Bund Art & Design (2020); Art Busan (2020); The Armory Show, New York (2020); SZ Art Center, Beijing (2017); Power Station of Art, Shanghai (2016); Minsheng Museum, Beijing (2015); Fluc Art Space, Vienna (2014); The First Italy-China Biennale of Contemporary Art, Monza (2011); CAFA Art Museum, Beijing (2011, 2009); and Henan Art Museum (2010).

Elaine YJ Zheng | Ocula | 2021

Wu Wei
featured artworks

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Body Reading - 8 by Wu Wei contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, drawing
Wu Wei Body Reading - 8, 2023 Inkjet print on paper, wood framed aluminium board, acrylic and paper collage
70 x 45 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Request Price & Availability
Study on Touch - 1 by Wu Wei contemporary artwork painting, sculpture
Wu Wei Study on Touch - 1, 2023 Paper and copper on woodboard
150 x 150 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Request Price & Availability
Disjointed Pelage - 12 by Wu Wei contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Wu Wei Disjointed Pelage - 12, 2023 Acrylic, paper on canvas and board
175 x 175 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Request Price & Availability
Blended Pelage 23-6 by Wu Wei contemporary artwork painting
Wu Wei Blended Pelage 23-6, 2023 Paper on board
150 x 180 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Request Price & Availability
Successive Stripes No.1 by Wu Wei contemporary artwork sculpture
Wu Wei Successive Stripes No.1, 2022 Paper on board
70 x 70 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Request Price & Availability
Mixed Pelage 22-11 by Wu Wei contemporary artwork sculpture
Wu Wei Mixed Pelage 22-11, 2022 Paper on board
70 x 70 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Request Price & Availability
Successive Stripes No.4 by Wu Wei contemporary artwork painting
Wu Wei Successive Stripes No.4, 2022 Paper on board
100 x 90 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Request Price & Availability
Mixed Pelage No.15 by Wu Wei contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Wu Wei Mixed Pelage No.15, 2021 Paper on board
86 x 86 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Request Price & Availability
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Wu Wei
recent exhibitions

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Represented by this
Ocula Member Gallery

Tang Contemporary Art contemporary art gallery in Beijing, China
Tang Contemporary Art Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul, Bangkok
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