About The Work
As an artist trained in both China and the U.S., Tian Wei constructs a bridge between shared aspects of eastern and western experience, while drawing together ancient and contemporary modes. His painted canvases and metal sculpture employ simple words to refer to complex experiences beyond the realm of language itself. Basing his creations on the Chinese genius for calligraphic abstraction, Tian Wei applies his talent for abstract cursive script (in Chinese) to the English language, where formal calligraphic practice insists on representative regularity and reproducibility. The resulting combination of English words written with a gestural spontaneity born of years of practice with the Chinese brush produces a striking hybrid form that approaches pure abstraction. The suggestive title of this dancing sculpture, Love Me, provides the necessary clue to resolve the riddle, as this seemingly illegible scribble magically transforms to reveal the hidden script. When the English words, Love Me, can finally be seen and understood, the reader is better prepared for wrestling with subordinate riddles of tone, interpretation. artistic intention, etc.
(Born in 1955, Xi’an, China. Lives and works in Beijing, China.)
Both theoretically and formally, Tian Wei’s work constructs a bridge between things that appear as dyadic opposites, binary poles or complementary pairs. This perspective of Yin and Yang is deeply embedded in Chinese thinking, and the artist’s frequent reference to Classic texts such as the I Ching (The Book of Changes) and Tao Te Ching appear as quotations in minute script patterning the background upon which larger semi-abstract cursive shapes are painted. On trying to read these lines as Chinese characters, however, anyone familiar with Chinese poetry, painting or philosophy is bound to be frustrated, since the conundrum of interpreting the meaning of the flowing shapes can only be resolved in English. The lines, in fact, spell out simple English nouns and adjectives such as ‘Sexy’, ‘Light’ and ‘Soul.’ These carefully chosen words give the viewer access to the artist’s lived experience of both eastern and western spheres.
Tian Wei left China for Hawaii, in 1986 to pursue a career in the arts. Upon completing his MFA in Hawaii in 1990, he subsequently settled in California. After years of travelling back and forth between America and China, he has been based in Beijing since 2011. October Gallery held Tian Wei’s first solo exhibition in 2014 and a second in 2018. Tian Wei was Artist-in-Residence at the Getty Research Institute 2017-2018 residency programme, which explored the theme ‘Iconoclasm and Vandalism’.
Founded in 1979, October Gallery was one of the first galleries in the United Kingdom to present contemporary art from around the globe with the aim of promoting the Transvangarde, the transcultural avant-garde. October Gallery has provided a launching pad for the emergence of some of the most innovative and exciting artists of our time and continues to provide a nexus for cultural exchange in the heart of London.