Wei Jiujie

Rosie Wang Fine Art I  罗 西 艺 术

Wei Jiujie

Born in Chongqing in 1984. Wei Jiujie studied in Chinese Painting Department of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute for his bachelor and master degrees from 2002 to 2010. His works have been published in the periodical Contemporary Artists, Art Observation, Art+, Top Floor, Gallery, Fine Arts Literature, etc. Currently he is living and working in Chongqing and Beijing.

Solo Exhibition

2017 “Maze”——Rediscovery of ink image,Xuanhe Art Museum,Nanjing,China

2015 “Four Quartet”Solo Exhibition, Beijing

2015 “ART Beijing”,Beijing

         The 2st Nanjing International Art Exhibition, Nanjing

2014 “On the Road” Nomination Exhibition of Chinese Young Artists, Shenzhen

          Youth Koan—The 1st Young Artist Meticulous Painting Exhibition, Guan Shanyue Art Museum, Shenzhen

         “Weight” Invitational Exhibition of New Meticulous Painting, Chengdu

          The 1st Nanjing International Art Exhibition, Nanjing

          The 10th China International Gallery Exhibition, Beijing

2013 “Deep Pop” Meticulous Painting Exhibition of Wei Jiujie, Chengdu

          Group Exhibitions

2013  “New Forces of Chinese Painting” Invitational Exhibition, Chengdu

2011  “Fresh Fruit” Contemporary Art Exhibition, Chengdu

2009  The 3rd Chongqing Chinese Painting Exhibition, Chongqing

2008  The 2nd “Art seed”Mainland and Taiwan Exchange Program, Taipei & Beijing

From the artist

My Creative Ideas

I always doubt and hold the skeptical attitudes to the unknowable, and everything I can see or imagine. On the one hand, I suspect the things I feel, on the other hand, I try to establish a hypothetical world in my mind which seems to be absurd and playful. Sometimes the "hypothesis" comes from daily fantasy, sometimes it comes from a dream. But all the unrealistic can be attributed to realistic. So in a living reality game mentality crammed with all sorts of vulnerability of human nature which leads more lost. Hence dreaming becomes the last tunnel to the unreal world. It’s a mistake that people separate dream from reality. Everything we think about and strive seems to be a trifling matter. The so-called eternal may be a relatively long existence of time. Humans want to get out of the limitations of body and pursuit the spirit of eternal, yet don’t know it is a paradox in going after self and eternity. Desire drives us to do all sorts of exploration, including the so-called advanced thoughts and philosophy realm. Eventually, all is the product of desire. If we say true liberation is invisible, then all the efforts we do before are useless. Wonderful process becomes a self-comfort anesthetic needle. Perhaps, we never exist.

From the curator

The Image Logic of the Perceptual Experience:

Wei Jiujie’s Paintings

BY Wei Xiangqi

In Wei Jiujie’s artistic belief, painting is an “anti-knowledge” and “anti-ordered” thinking method, instead of searching for an “orthodox” model of value in the existing schematic structure and image mode. This enthusiastic cognitive experience on “question” and “deconstruction” obviously comes from his “self-consciousness”, the strength and courage to look for the “criticalness” in the Western knowledge pedigree after Enlightenment philosophy, instead of searching for the transcendental spiritual feelings in the traditional poetics and painting values. Wei Jiujie considers the “absurdity” as a kind of “intellective rational awareness”. Or many people also think that the “erotica” and “eeriness” in his paintings paid too much emphasis on the visual expressive force, but neglected the “obscurity” in its language, which led to the direct and specific difficulties for the audience to understand the meaning of the works. Wei Jiujie seems always scan these misunderstandings from the opposite perspective on purpose, thus his works usually contain a “cankered” and “provoking” attitude. Rather than the driving force of the curiosity, it was more like a consistent wildness. Certainly, Wei Jiujie also bears the tradition of Chinese painting history in mind. He received the systematic training of basic modeling and counterdraw in the Chinese painting department in the fine art academy. It was easy for us to discover the subtle connection between the way of Gouran style  in his painting language and the Song paintings, but he’d never portrayed any visual symbol that is related to Chinese traditional painting theory directly, such as pulm blossom and bamboo, rocks on the hill, water gap and forest, etc. Instead, he created a complicated, dramatic and miraculous scene. So it’s difficult for us to describe these “new images” with the experience of Chinese traditional painting theory. Wei Jiujie also expressed his “rebellion” towards Chinese traditional painting history in his personal statement. In his opinion, it’s more reasonable and accurate to understand the creations with a contemporary art framework, as this kind of image consciousness has already gone beyond the theoretical structure of Chinese traditional painting language system. By painting, he is not exploring the truth beyond the limitation of life, but to express a kind of image logic of self-conscious experience. Wei Jiujie is not looking for image inspirations in the existing painting tradition, namely developing the image logic of “from painting to painting”, but to find out a “new painting” of “contrariness”, “entertainment” and “consumerism”. Wei Jiujie attributes his creative inspiration and intellectual experience to his reading of Hume, Kant and Huxley in the recent years. These experiences made him feel that it’s hard to be satisfied in the aesthetic and intellectual mode of Chinese traditional painting any more. There is an inherent “treachery” and “jocosity” interacting here together. As what Hume said, people may rely on some certain feeling to behave but it’s hard to say that there was any fixed thinking and sense, it’s also hard to say that Wei Jiujie received any serious knowledge experience in this kind of thinking dimension, but definitely that “questioning” became a kind of form and conceptual self-presetting and self-identity, while “absurdness” became the visual appearance of “questioning”. Wei Jiujie produced a series of magic and mysterious image landscape. With a cynical attitude, he is trying to describe a fable beyond the realistic life. 

Wei Jiujie categorized his recent creations into the four series: “The Hell Accident”, “The Human Comedy”, “The History” and “The Sacred Comedy”. In the complicated picture space, we can easily find that he was trying on purpose to confound the Hellenic fairy tale, bible stories and the topics in the Chinese traditional civilian believes, so as to obfuscate the “symbolic meaning” of the picture. For instance, the Satan, the Medusa and the gorilla in “The Sacred Comedy: The Sin No.1. Life Tree”, and the lifeless tree and peaceful long distance landscape in the Chinese traditional landscape paintings, constituted a puzzling narrative situation. Plus, the gesture of Medusa and the condom that Satan is holding in hand in his back also made the scene look both familiar and ridiculous. We have to say that Wei Jiujie did accept the symbolism of the schematic structure and language sign from the tradition of Western painting history, as all theallegoric meanings of these visual images could be clearly explained. There are also some researchers pointed that Wei Jiujie’s creation also borrowed the image modes from the Italian painter Ciorgio de Chirico’s metaphysical painting to the Belgian painter Rene Magritte’s surrealistic painting. They focus on building up a mysterious and even inexplainable juxtaposition of multiple-image, and the dreamlike color is also more like a “new discovery” from knowledge to feeling. He is an illusion creator. Obviously, Wei Jiujie’s image narratives can indeed gain supports in the Surrealism theory but it’s still not responsible to understand these paintings purely with the concepts of Surrealism. If we consider that the surrealism was to describe a transcendent, spiritual and inner world inspired by the Romanticism and Symbolism and was promoted by unconsciousness and subconsciousness, it was to illustrate the “poem” and “philosophy”, then comparatively Wei Jiujie’s paintings emphasis more on describing preset image logic. Different from unconsciousness he preferred to highlight the intuition and moral symbol of the “intent”. And comparing with the sociological criticism of the “realism” constructed by Chinese contemporary art critic concept since 1990s, it seems that Wei Jiujie preferred to describe that with an obscure philosophic and literary language, such as looking for the proof of self-explanation in the words of Four Quarters by American poet Eliot. The concept of Four Quarters originates from musicology, and refers to polyphony, counterpoint, harmony and variation. But here in Eliot’s works it attempted to present a series of dualism concept such as “Confinedness and Infinity”, “Moment and Eternity”, “Past and Future”, “Life and Death”, etc In Wei Jiujie’s point of view, these are the most accurate description on his complicated inner spiritual world. And the four quarters that his four series of works were corresponding to respectively are just describing a kind of multi-layer consciousness and experience. Undoubtedly, Wei Jiujie did not continue the painting tradition that is from “reproduction” to “expression”, but emphasized more on the “ideographic” tradition of the “iconography”. Thus it is the representation of “logic” instead of “poetics”. Maybe, as he was avoiding the description with the language of the painting history on purpose, Wei Jiujie even always demonstrates his “anti-traditional” attitude with an abnormal and inacceptable way. Although he highly appreciates the accomplishments of Chinese ancient painting in the Five Dynasties, Song Dynasty and Yuan Dynasty, he also acutely pointed out that it is a must to reconstruct the spiritual landscape of Chinese painting history, so as to match the intellectual discourse of “contemporary art”. He advocates for a subtle balance between the dualistic paradox of “transmission” and “anti-transmission” from the masters to disciples.

Chinese contemporary art has experienced the transformation from “language form” to “concept” since 1980s. In 1990s, there were various practices of reviewing Chinese politics and social issues through the way of painting, which were influenced largely by the philosophic and sociologic theory after the Enlightenment Movement. For instance, due to the obsession on Heidegger and Nietzsche’s theory in a certain period, the visual imageries “indifference”, “absurdness” and “death” became the continuously explored topics in many oil painters’ artistic creations. At the same time, Chinese ink painting artists were still discuss the painting technique issues within the categories of “abstract ink painting”, “neo-scholar’s painting” and “experimental ink painting”, yet neglected the awareness of the sociological discourse, and thus were difficult for the contemporary art critics to accept. Thereupon, installation, performance, space and video art transcended the expressive power of painting gradually. The application of the “ready-made” demonstrated a more direct and extreme capacity in the expression of the sociological and political topics, which put painting into a more embarrassing dilemma. But the scholars of the contemporary art critics prevalently noticed that this thinking method was obviously confined by the preset dimension of the Western contemporary art theory in 1960s, while maybe Chinese contemporary art should develop with its own language method, such as the new theory and new experience of “Maximalism” and “Prayer Beads and Brush Strokes”  among the practitioners of “experimental ink painting”, although these creations have no longer been limited on the “painting” level, but onto a higher level of thinking and performance, and even showed a new form of “anti-painting” and “anti-image”. Until recently, inking painting creation started to demonstrate a new image experience such as the new proposition of “neo-elaborate style” that produces the new “meaningful image” in the existing delineation and sumi techniques. These new images were used to display a kind of “new thinking” or “new concept”. Both the new image conception found in the Song Dynasty Imperial-court decorative painting, and the various new developments based on the European classic painting works created new space for language and conceptual experiment in Chinese painting history. We noticed that “neo-elaborated style” painting is still continuing the validity of the Chinese traditional painting on spiritual and intellectual judgments. Whereas in the containing, silent and elegant imagery space, there is a protection of the traditional cultural roots, Gazing is the basic way of seeing when we are facing the Chinese traditional paintings as well as the “neo-elaborated style” paintings, namely, to find the “inwardness” beyond the painting image per se in Gazing. Comparatively, Wei Jiujie’s Master Degree graduation works series “Looking at the Ocean with Indifference” (2010) had already demonstrated an indescribable feeling of restlessness that was different from the aesthetic taste of the “neo-elaborated style”. This “rebellious” and “playful” image consciousness may be explained more reasonable with his living experience of childhood. But as a creation concept, he gave up hiding his “active” “fantastic ideas” recently, but just let it be, especially interested in describing a “imagery taboo” instead of caring about the “orthodox” concepts in Chinese traditional painting. Hence, we will be conceptually trapped if we try to judge Wei Jiujie’s paintings with a Chinese traditional painting theoretical mode. Of course, we can find such a kind of hidden image pedigree in the “Hell in Disguise” by Wu Daozi of Tang Dynasty, the “Picture of Ten Emperors” and “Searching in the Mountain” by painters of Late Song or Early Yuan Dynasty; we can also find similar scenes in “The Last Judgment” by the Italian painter Michelangelo, or the “Temptation of St. Anthony” by the Netherlandish painter Bosch in the European Renaissance; but it’s still not enough for us to gain a relatively clear outline of the painting history. Similar with the motif of “neo-elaborated style” painting, Wei Jiujie’s paintings also didn’t describe the “confusion” and “suffering” in the “reality”, but expressed the preset perceptual experience with the “metaphor” and “metonymy” approaches in the coding of the image language, which is still distant from the direct questioning and review toward contemporary social mentality and power awareness in “contemporary art”. What Wei Jiujie demonstrated in his “new image” is a self-closing spiritual space. From the audience point of view, this will not be a “Gazing” way of seeing, but a “discovery” and “confusion” with more questions.

Besides, Wei Jiujie also wrote short articles such as “Nuwa, Why Are You So Fear of Being Neglected”, “The Poet Died for Love”, “The Nymph and the Cesspit”, “Zeus’s Sperm”, “I dreamt of Satan”, “The Evil of Dream”, and “The Dead Night”. We can see from those titles that they were describing some erotic and rhapsodic pictures. Though literally speaking his rhetoric capacity is still not strong enough, it was these thinking fragments that consisted of the absurd pictures of “Four Quarters”. In Wei Jiujie’s opinion, this “absurdness” is a kind of wisdom to perceive the world, is a talent and natural endowment; all the brilliance, pain, grief and happiness can be considered as something vacuous; and what people should pursue is the spiritual freedom of an individual, is to scorn all the social stereotype, convention and cultural regulation. Regarding “absurdness”, Shakespeare pointed out in the Macbeth that the world is “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”; Jaspers wrote that it was “someone’s repeated frustrations in the reality”; Sartre’s stated that it was the expressions of “the meaninglessness of life and existence”; Camus describe it as “the Sisyphus tragedy spirit”; and in Marcel’s concept it was “a metaphor of the mysterious life”. All in all, Wei Jiujie’s imagery description on “absurdness” should be a presentation of a rational conclusion instead of passion.


Jan 2015, Dong Cheng Hutong, Beijing

Dr. Wei Xiangqi

Doctor of Chinese Painting History, Staff of National Art Museum of China,

+BTAP Academic