Telescope: China | He Wei

April 7, 2015
– By James Elaine

MAR. 28, 2015 – MAY. 23, 2015 at Telescope in Beijing

He Wei’s mysterious abstractions investigate interior landscapes of the mind and heart. Through a process of applying many translucent layers of oil paint onto canvases lying on the floor random expressionistic color fields are created sometimes with broken geometric structures floating on the surface. The texture and wrinkles in the canvas, and the imperfections of the floor form depressions and crevices on the painting’s surface. Using different techniques and tools He Wei applies the paint with brushes, rollers, scrapers, even watering cans, layer upon layer. The thinned oils flow onto the canvas and settle into the linen’s texture and crevices creating soft undulating colors and unexpected shapes.   

The process is the unspoken subject of his work. He Wei is not looking for meaning in his painting but through the process of painting he searches for a deeper meaning of creativity and self. His quest is for freedom. But even though our nature is to long for freedom we also have the need for control. This is the dynamic that drives his work and its ultimate contradiction. Life and art are a struggle. His process rejects caution, embraces chance, fights fear, and allows mistakes. But at the same time it is ordered by his sense of color, composition, and the natural attributes of his chosen materials. In the end, freedom needs to be balanced by order or they both lose their purpose and power. When needed He Wei achieves visual balance by applying broken geometric shapes to the painting. These forms help control and order the randomness of the fluid paint. They are not superimposed but seem to have grown into or have risen out of an ambiguous space to the paintings surface. 

He Wei’s paintings are scarred but beautiful. That can be their purpose and meaning, and that is enough. They are completely successful and satisfying in that way. But by understanding the way he works and his ultimate purpose in creating we can have a deeper appreciation for his work, life, and the world around us. The beauty in his work is transferred to our own lives through this experience. He Wei’s process of creating an artwork, mirrors his journey through life. It seeks to be honest, to find balance, to struggle with opposition, to rise above destructive forces and to use it all for the good of the whole. The process produces an art object but it is secondary to his quest to find freedom and balance in life. But we were made to create, and the work that he has produced is a worthy gift in itself, simple, beautiful, and true. 

Telescope is supported by a grant from New Century Art Foundation.

Special thanks to Fang Jian Ping and UDL for the poster and logo designs.