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New Zealand gets a Chinese watercolour treatment

2 May 2008

New Zealand gets a Chinese watercolour treatment

A blend of traditional Chinese watercolours and elements of New Zealand landscapes by Wei Wu will adorn the walls of Toi Pōneke Gallery from next week (9 May). In this exhibition, Splendour and Serenity: Chinese Modern Colour Paintings, Wei Wu’s subjects are drawn from natural forms symbolic in Chinese painting such as landscape, flowers and birds.

Wei draws on Chinese traditional watercolour technique, which he learned and perfected through a culmination of study and also coming from several generations of artists.

He has worked in a number of art and design environments but his real love is painting. His paintings are highly regarded in China and many have been exhibited in prestigious museums and art galleries. Two of his paintings are in the collection ‘Selected Works of Contemporary Chinese Calligraphy’ and another painting was displayed in the touring exhibition promoted by the Shenzhen government.

Wei says his family has a long and distinguished tradition in classical Chinese painting.

“My first influence was my father, Xianchun Wu, who is famous in China both as a painter and art expert, and his work can be found in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, among other places,” says Wei.

“After deciding to go the same way, I went to Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts and worked as an artist ever since. My three brothers, my niece, and also my daughter have all followed similar paths.”

Wei says he meticulously plans the design and structure of each painting.

“In terms of perspective, Chinese painting uses cavalier or multiple-point perspective while Western painting is generally one-point perspective – similar to the perspective in a photo. The scene taken by a camera lens is at a fixed point. Chinese painting is not always fixed at a specific point; its point can be moved according to the painter's perception and needs.

“Generally speaking, there is more white space left in a Chinese painting than in a Western painting, the proportion often being as high as two-thirds space to one-third painting. Pigments used by Chinese painting are unique as well; usually pigments are made from the natural minerals or animal shell powder, which are resistant to the wind and sunshine.”

Splendour and Serenity: Chinese Modern Colour Paintings opens at 5.30pm on Friday 9 May and runs until the end of the month at Toi Pōneke Gallery, 61-63 Abel Smith Street.


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