Art and Design Supplement, March 2012, P92-95
Zhu Wei : I Will Always Be A Punk
P94, up left, Utopia No.48, ink painting, 2005
P94, up right, New Pictures of the Strikingly Bizarre，woodprint,2004
P95, up left, Zhu Wei directs the MV Blossom of the Miserable Faith Band
P95, up right, the segment of the MV Blossom of the Miserable Faith Band
Artist Zhu Wei spent his youth drawing ink painting while listening to rock music, so it's not hard for us to understand why he still would rather be called "old punk" than "ink painter" after so many years. In fact, in his mind there is always a music dream. "When I was little, I didn't have money to buy a guitar, and now I’m too old to play. I think I was born at the wrong time, maybe I can realize my dream in the next life," he said.
Text/ Kang Bazi
Photograph/ Xuan Peng
The story of Zhu Wei and rock music can be traced back to the time when he first signed contract with the art gallery. In 1995, he was already a very successful ink painter. While quite a few artists of his age were still struggling in the old Summer Palace, he already didn't have to worry about his living. Nevertheless, he likes to be called as "rock painter" or "little punk". Though he paints for a living, he deliberately avoids the association with painters. In contrast, he likes to hang out with the "little punks" who play rock music, organize bands and sell Saw-Gash.
His life is like what he recalled, "at that time, China was still poor. The house I rent was only provided with water and electricity. I took a shower once or twice a year. Almost every night, I went to the then popular discos in Beijing, for example, Nasa in Xitucheng with Wang Shuo and Feng Xiaogang's shares, JJ in Xinjiekou, and Nightman alongside the China International Exhibition Center. There, we would jump and dance to the deep night with the body wet from head to toe. Then, when the body dries up, we go back to sleep. It's like taking a shower." That is a life similar to most rock youths'. What's different for him is that he met the father of Chinese rock music--Cui Jian in that year.
From Punk to Stage Art
"There's music in your painting." Cui Jian said that to Zhu Wei when they met. From then on, Zhu Wei turned his passion for rock music into actual involvement. At the very beginning, he accepted Cui Jian's invitation to do stage design--the 1 Fen coin picture people saw at the back of Cui Jian's show. That huge picture took him two months. First, he amplified the coin and made it into model, then colored it like rubbing. He paid some art college students to help him, and you can see their working scene in the large stage workshop of General Political Department Song and Dance Ensemble in the video he recorded.
That curtain accompanied Cui JIan for over a dozen of years and witnessed the growth of Chinese rock music. Zhu Wei's works were also influenced by rock music and he completed several new ink painting series such as Comrade Soldier, New Pictures of the Strikingly Bizarre. In those works, both the figure image and color application were quite "punky", which is his most representative creative style in that period. Later, he used the titles of Cui Jian's songs to name his works, for example, The Story of Beijing and the Egg Left over by Red Flag. When his passion bursts, he even put rock music lyrics into the painting, though later he thought that's a little bit too wild".
New Rock, New Identity
After 2000, a large number of rock music fans turned to "Mi Di". Dependent on the M iDi School reputed as "Huangpu Military Academy in the field of rock music", the Mi Di music festival has remained its position as "the largest rock music festival in China" over these years. Surely, the rock music-involved Zhu Wei also participated in it. In 2006, Zhang Fan, the initiator of Mi Di music festival specifically invited Zhu Wei to Shanghai to help design its logo.
Then, people saw the impressive pictures on the lawn and stage of the 2006 Mi Di music festival. The logo depicted such a picture: a fist with thumb, forefinger and little finger sticking out and curled up middle finger and ring finger, representing “I, L（Love）, Y(You)”, which you can see everywhere at the Mi DI Music Festival, from rock youths’ T-shirts and big posters on the scene. That is not only a piece of work, but also his tribute to rock music as well as a remembrance of the rock spirits of that time.
The Rock Music under New Media
In fact, the stage art design he did originated from another hobby of him - -his "movie dream". In 1989, he accepted a task from leaders after the graduation from the Art College of the Chinese People's liberation army. Quickly he discovered that was not the life he wanted, and then he turned to another kind of art--movie. A year later, he entered the Beijing Film Academy, and started to study film art. At the end of 1992 when he finished the courses, he found himself facing the choice of three years ago: to continue painting or turn to movie?
Zhu Wei may not be an ink painter if he didn't happen to sell his works and signed contract with a gallery. Out of his rebellious spirits, he kept doing something beyond painting, which was realized through the rock music and its circle he loved. In 2009, he became a guest actor in Chengdu, I Love You shot by Cui Jian; before long, he performed a quite stylish contemporary artist in Living with Fashion shot by Yin Lichuan. "There was someone who regarded me--an ink painter--as a contemporary artist. I was quite excited," Zhu Wei joked about it.
For Zhu Wei, the only success in this field is the MV he directed for the Miserable Faith Band. The shooting of the MV for the top song Blossom of the new version EP was finished in just a few days, but the post production lasted for a year. To save expense while using the professional equipment, he made the editing in professional movie companies after the staff going off work. "A lot of translation pictures were edited in the post process. We only had scenes moving back and forth in the original material. “It’s not hard for us to perceive his efforts, but it is well worth. The MV was quiet and deep. There were no gaudy contents besides the band members' vague faces, which expressed the life recognition quite properly. "It’s quietness that we wanted. You need to feel quiet after leaving the scene," speaking of which, he was even a little excited. When he was designing the curtain for Cui Jian, he was already holding that conception, which represented his profound understanding of rock music spirits.
Though that shooing sapped his vitality, and he even made a vow not to shoot MV anymore, but seen from his current state, even if he doesn't shoot MV, he will continue to do some other sideline occupations related with rock music, for rock music spirits are already get rooted in his bones. He himself may not be able to control that rebellious spirits. When Zhu Wei paints, he can lock himself away for half a year, and even forget how to speak when he is all alone for such a long time, he has lived in the Pingguo Community for 6 years, but he even never went to the Today Art Museum in his neighborhood. When drawing ink paintings, he mocked this world in a slow manner, but with rock music, he could finally get the chance to yell out.
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