Wei Guangqing, born in 1963 in Huangshi, Hubei, was a leader in the Hubei Pop Art Movement, and is renowned for his performance and installation art in addition to his iconic style of painting. Graduating from the Department of Oil Painting of the China Academy of Art in 1985 during the ’85 New Wave Movement, Wei became a star in the movement and a definite figure in Cultural Pop Art. Wei served as director and professor of the Department of Oil Painting at the Hubei Academy of Fine Arts, president of the Hubei Oil Painting Society, and a distinguished member of the Hubei Artists Association’s Oil Painting Committee, and has made outstanding contributions to the education of contemporary art in his native province.
Zhu Zi’s (Zhu Bolu, 1617 – 1688) Family Maxims, complied in the Ming Dynasty, was officially recognized as a canonical text for managing morality within the home. Later transcribed and engraved as illustrated albums, the text was passed through subsequent generations as a standard in early education until the early Republican period. In a stark collision between contemporary art and traditional culture, Wei Guangqing transcribed Zhu Zi’s illustrated albums onto stainless steel plates, supplemented the text with English translations, and highlighted important phrases and illustrations with oil colors. Traditionally, family morality was regarded as the foundation to social stability, but it appears to be largely lost today. Much like the young children who recited the Maxims, people nowadays do not understand the meaning behind the texts. Wei’s intentional blurry transcription is a visual representation of the difficulty in comprehending the text. As the morality of the text is timeless, the media of stainless steel is nearly as resilient. The mirror-like surface of the steel reflects and places the viewer within the image, thereby prompting reflection and introspection. Wei’s dynamic use of color in highlighting the image brings vitality to the coolness of the stainless steel, in which the hand-painted colors in each of the six editions makes every image unique and original.
Comparison: Zhu Zi’s Family Maxim No. 1 Get Up At Daybreak
Get up at daybreak. Sprinkle water on and sweep your courtyard and steps; make it clean and tidy both inside and out. Go to bed at dusk. Lock your gates and inspect them personally. You should remember that even a bit of gruel or a bowl of rice is hard to come by.