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Wei Jia, who was born in Beijing in 1957, received his B.F.A. in 1984 from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing and his MA in Studio arts in 1987 from Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania. His knowledge of Chinese traditional calligraphy and brushwork developed from an early intensive study of traditional painting, calligraphy, and literature with his teacher, Zhang Boju. Wei has always been intrigued by the subtle play of positive and negative space in traditional Chinese painting and fascinated by the delicate texture, translucent quality and fine shades of white in Chinese paper. He began to use paper and the techniques of mounting as a means of self-expression. Simultaneously, he commenced re-exploring traditional Chinese calligraphy, the flowing ideograms already a perfect form of abstract art, together with the contemporary art of minimalism. From this fertile field Wei created a painting series, a continuing project entitled Calligrapher Series. In Wei Jia's paintings, the calligraphy of famous ancient Chinese calligraphers appears mostly as fragments of art forms instead of as complete poems and essays as in the original works. The characters are stunning in their visual range, faithfully copied from masters who worked as early as 350 AD. The enlarged characters are painstakingly outlined and filled in by the artist using graphite, pastel and gouache to paint or draw the calligraphy in the manner of ancient masters on layers of paper of various shapes mounted on canvas.
Calligraphy as a general term simply means groups of words conveying human thought and written by hand. In China, however, it is considered to be one of the highest forms of Chinese aesthetic and the most fundamental element of Chinese art. In their written form Chinese characters not only serve the purpose of conveying thought but also express in a peculiar visual way the beauty of the thought itself. The history of Chinese calligraphy is believed to be as long as that of China herself, and affection for the written word is instilled from childhood in the Chinese heart. An accomplished calligrapher's character, disposition, and propensities, as well as his good or bad fortune, can be discerned from his handwriting. Indeed, Chinese calligraphy is deemed to have potent mystical powers.
Chinese characters are monosyllabic and pictographic, each ideogram throwing on the mind an isolated picture. They comprise three elements-thought, sound and form--enabling them to fulfill the exacting requirements of an artistic medium. Every Chinese character presents to the calligrapher an almost infinite variety of problems of structure and composition. Training, beginning in childhood, covers a lifetime. For the accomplished calligraphy student, the goal becomes the study of the beauties of calligraphy, which is the abstract beauty of line. The lines are straight and curved, thick and thin, light and dark, wet and dry, saturated with ink, and lines in which the ink almost disappears. The arrangements of the parts of a character need to form a unit which is complete in itself, be perfectly balanced and have a dynamic posture that is the attitude of a moving figure in momentary equilibrium. Individual inspiration is as necessary to the creation of brilliant calligraphy as to any other form of art. The high art of calligraphy recognizes the intimate, oscillating dance of meaning and form as the characters that make up the Chinese written language move back and forth between meaning and abstraction.
Wei Jia's paintings are all about the beauty of space and form and energy from the structure and the subtle surface of the images. Unmoored from their burden of conveying specific meaning, his characters relax into personalities, flighty finger looping tails, proud architectural structures, elegant flowing rivers, giving the ancient forms freshness and immediacy. The beauty of Wei Jia's Calligrapher Series is indeed the abstract beauty of line, rhythm, and structure that becomes form and movement, meaning and expression.
|1. Calligrapher No.38 - Yan Zhenqing V, 52 x 52 in. Ink, gouache, pastel and xuan paper collage on canvas, 2004.|
|2. Calligrapher No.42 - Zhang Xu IV, 52 x 52 in. Charcoal, gouache, pastel and xuan paper collage on canvas, 2004.|
|3. SW 2 - Chu Shuiliang, 16x16 in. Graphite, gouache and xuan paper collage on canvas, 2004.|
|4. Calligrapher No.40 - Huang Tingjian III, 52 x 52 in. Gouache and xuan paper collage on canvas, 2004.|
|5. SW 1 - Zhu Yunming, 16x16 in. Graphite, gouache and xuan paper collage on canvas, 2004|
|6. Calligrapher No.43 - Xu Wei II, 52 x 52 in. Graphite pencil, gouache and xuan paper collage on canvas, 2004.|
|7. Calligrapher No.23- Jin Nong III, 52 x 52 in. Charcoal, gouache and paper collage on canvas, 2003.||8. Calligrapher No.35 - Zhang Xu III, 52 x 52 in. Gouache, pastel and xuan paper collage on canvas, 2004.|
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