Zheng Xuewu: A Survey
Art Projects International is pleased to present a survey of works on paper by Zheng Xuewu. Bringing together select works made between 1997 and 2012, the exhibition will feature many never before exhibited works and provide a rare opportunity to explore Zheng’s highly individual aesthetic and vast array of approaches.
Zheng Xuewu’s mixed media on paper series are an important part of his artistic output. He orchestrates complex compositions by actively transferring, one-by-one, many hundreds of images onto paper using hand-carved woodblocks, cast metal printing type, stamps and found objects as printing tools. Often, Zheng finishes a work by painting into it by hand.
Red Sky of 2002 is striking for its overt references and bold application of color. A towering brick wall and five stars on a painterly red field are direct symbols of China past and present. The grandeur of this “Great Wall” is usurped by the bricks as a collection of individual, unique stamps, perhaps stand-ins for the Chinese people. Smiley faces drawn onto the stars deflate the potency of these symbols of state and make them part of Zheng’s playful and contemplative lexicon.
Zheng’s subject matter is often drawn from Chinese culture with concrete meaning remaining elusive. The monochromatic work Girl of 1997 features an image of a girl rendered with sprayed paint and a stencil to look like the kind of paper cutouts hung on the Chinese New Year holiday. The background pattern is formed from hundreds of pigment transfers, each rectangular block its own miniature abstract painting. This work is related to other works like Condition 1 and Condition 2 of 2012, in which Zheng adds to his repertoire of mark making techniques and image sources by reaching into folk traditions that are fading from the contemporary Chinese consciousness.
Strongly interested in language, Zheng focuses on the symbols of western languages in recent works like East and West 1 and East and West 2 of 2012. The Latin alphabet and English words are used to create all over fields and complex non-representational and non-repeating patterns. The viewer may consider if stamping and pounding images into being puts the artist’s hand at remove from the work. But it is exactly through Zheng’s labor-intensive process and his use of tools and image making objects that his style becomes apparent, present as a highly suggestive poetic. The East and West works remind of the limits of translation and of language itself. The clarity of Zheng’s works on paper invites the viewer to join him in his investigations. Alphabets, text, numbers, figures from folklore, popular imagery and abstract shapes claim a larger subject matter, one invested in direct communication and attuned to the enigma of culture.
About the artist:
Beijing-based Zheng Xuewu (b. 1964) has become celebrated for creating an art of unorthodox methods that is in unique dialogue with quotidian Chinese imagery and language. In creating his works on paper, Zheng experiments with the techniques of printmaking and expands its possibilities. Recent exhibitions include Two Generations–20 Years of Chinese Contemporary Art, Melbourne International Fine Art and at multiple other venues in Australia (2012); The Century Document, Gwangju Museum of Art, Korea (2010); The 4th National Contemporary Printmaking Exhibition, Xian Art Museum, Shanxi, China (2010); From Nature to Mind, Museum of Contemporary Art, Beijing (2009); and Zheng Xuewu: Meditation, Art Projects International, New York (2008).
Zheng Xuewu’s work is represented in major collections including the National Art Museum of China, Beijing; Kaethe Kollwitz Museum, Berlin; Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa; Beijing International Art Palace, China; Ringier International, Switzerland; Gwangju Museum of Art, Korea; Ackland Art Museum, Chapel Hill, NC; Guilford College, Greensboro, NC; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Emory University, Atlanta; and Tsinghua University, Beijing.
© 2013 Art Projects International