Zhu Wei Diary

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 October, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 October, 2000, 12:00am

Exhibition: Plum Blossoms Gallery, 17/F Coda Plaza, 51 Garden Road, Central. 10am-6.30pm Mon-Sat; noon-5pm Sun. Tel: 2521 2189. Until Nov 4

Mainland artist Zhu Wei's art is a diary of his experiences. Broad bands of colour or bizarre doll-like faces, his paintings all record events of China's past and present. These odd narratives of everyday situations and historical moments use pivotal figures and heroic icons from Mao to Lenin as their subjects. Drawn from personal experiences and important episodes in the mainland's history, he creates figures with sombre faces, powerful gestures, always very expressive, very colourful.

Zhu certainly has the background to draw on. Born in Beijing in 1966 and self-taught, he joined the PLA in 1992, graduating from its art college seven years later. When he left the army in 1992, he started his own art studio in Beijing and his work is now found in numerous collections worldwide.

Despite such an increasingly international history, his paintings contain strong hints of old China - traditional media of ink and rich mineral reds, blues, yellows and greens. Texts on some paintings are drawn from diverse sources: classical Chinese novels or lyrics by Beijing rock star Cui Jian.

But his art is always fundamentally political, though quite different from his generation of post-89 Cynical Realists. Zhu prefers to capture moments of triumph and trauma in the mainland's process of modernisation.