Zhang Wei: a Producer of Grotesque Images
By Du Xiyun
Judging from his artworks such as Extras and Artificial Theatre, Zhang Wei puts a premium on the penetration of human nature, which is probably related to his life experiences and knowledge reserves. His photographic portraits of seemingly objective recordings actually went through numerous post-processing, presenting a sense of weak absurdity. Because of its seemingly objective recordings, this weak absurdity between the real and the virtual could even more affect people’s emotional response.
Zhang Wei once was a painter, but in recent years he has chosen photography. He is a creator of fictional images through photographs rather than a photographer. No matter how documentary the photos or videos are, they are not objective themselves, because the lens is full of limitations from machinery and human beings, and the productive technique of an image is just the substitute or the virtual image of the objective image after all. However, because photographic pictures are more close to objective images, they are more “real” than paintings, and also more convenient and efficient than paintings, Zhang Wei put down his brushes and picked up camera and mouse. The main reason motivating him should be his strong desire for expression, rather than his obsession with brush/paint, camera/film.
These images by Zhang Wei are delicate and fantastic with a strong “artistic” taste. But those viewers who have certain life experiences and knowledge reserves could sense the cultural and political concepts mixed in with the artistic taste. Those faces distorted in various degrees have direct or indirect connections with social situations, cultural atmosphere and desired aspirations. Looking at these absurd, gloomy, depressed and twisted figures, people would easily think of the societal, cultural and historical matrix which gave birth to them. From the large number of images that Zhang Wei has created in recent years, he has a heavy historical burden and survival experiences. He has a lot of experiences and thinking, actively seeking methods and channels to express, disseminate and communicate. However, he understands the importance of “charming” these heavy, unpleasant, troublesome concepts, which, if presented in a straightforward way are likely to be daunting. Only when blending them into a sensual form which is rich in visual appeal, could they be absorbed and digested.
Among painting/photography, filming/production, reality/ virtuality, normal/abnormal, Zhang Wei carefully adjusts his scale so these images maintain a moving tension. His artwork emits a different flavor. There is relaxation of games and playful pleasure, and also a mix of strong sadness, or despair.
October 16, 2013