Whether it is the crowning stars over the Paramount, the Puma logo, Hollywood images, or the axe and hammer on the Chinese Communist Party emblem, or the high rises in the metropolis; we can always find elements from our daily lives in Wei Qingji’s paintings. At the same time, we can also sense the continuous oriental flavor, and how cultural symbols in Chinese traditional culture integrate with issues of the contemporary world–does the bamboo still symbolize strength, courage and nobility in the new context? Does the Big Dipper still embody the same meaning today, as it was for the ancient people?
For Wei Qingji, who received traditional artistic training and immersion during his childhood, ink and brush is a comfortable mode of expression. The artist’s practice is based on the constant revision of his own experience. Even though he may have demonstrated proficient techniques in traditional Chinese painting, yet given the circumstances to be “present” in the contemporary art practice and the distant tradition, Wei Qingji no longer imitates the mode of expression from the past. In other words, the traditional medium of ink painting must undergo new transformations. Passionate in exploring the relationship between the traditional and the contemporary, Wei Qingji chose to present the modified social elements and discourse from his personal memories in the composition of his images.
The seemingly arbitrary images and symbols are embedded with Wei Qingji’s focus and thinking on everyday life: how do these symbols affect our production, and the impact they have on our reality, and what are our attitudes towards this impact? The symbols displaced in different contexts lose its function, and such bewildering scenario provides us with a different perspective in the studying these subjects. The process of re-assembling these symbols and applying them is Wei Qingji’s course of thinking, conveying his attitude and position. However, Wei Qingji has only narrated the reality he has witnessed rather than providing any answers through his artworks. He appropriates symbols to play with ink painting into mesmerizing works of art, satirizing social realities, allowing all viewers to enter the work and discover their own understanding and sentiments. Wei Qingji used pencil and gold plating in his ink painting, integrating dripping and smudging and other unusual approaches to engender new modes of this medium.
Although he is using unconventional materials, techniques, and his subject matters inspired by the present, Wei Qingji has not overlooked the characteristics of this particular medium but has reduced them to the minimal. He wishes to make adjustments through a continuation of this tradition. Like the concept he has been emphasizing, “Tradition is a spiritual flux that prolongs our memories while revealing to us how our forefathers have dealt with their existential circumstances to assure humanity through the course of transformation and renewal may still be identified.”