December 2009 issue of Shangri-la, “Nine people’s 2009” Column
Zhu Wei: Play Ice Hockey in the Studio
Article/Wang Jing Photographer/Yu Long
Today, the Chinese artists have rapidly become ‘the richest’ class. ‘While all Chinese people are pursuing a better life, I am pursuing something simple.’ Zhu Wei said.
In the contemporary art circle, Zhu Wei was one of the earliest artists that emerged in the then burgeoning art market back under normal operation in the 90’s. Since 1993, he has been working with Plum Blossoms Gallery whose affiliated agencies could be found all over Europe, America and Hong Kong. In the year of 1994, “Exhibition of Zhu Wei in Plum Blossoms Gallery” was held in Hong Kong. Two days after the exhibition, all the mass media in Hong Kong reported interesting details about the exhibition: some collectors nearly got into fight because of making a mad rush for Zhu Wei’s paintings. Afterwards, all the paintings were robbed to the last pin. This close cooperation lasted until 2005. In those 12 years, Zhu Wei’s ink and wash paintings attracted a lot of attention from overseas collectors to major art institutes. Zhu’s painting records an era and a country as well.
Zhu Wei’s new studio locates at Pingo Apartment near Today Art Museum. The simple fashion loft building properly consists with Zhu Wei’s humble and free attitude to life, and the space without a trace of dust is different with most artists' studios. When nightfall, looking through the five-meter height window, the most gorgeous CBD night scene greets the eyes.
The studio is empty, “this place can be only used for working, but not living”. Zhu Wei is always satisfied with his CBD studio, “This studio was bought by myself, at present, it is rising to be double the original price. At leaset, I will never worry about my studio being dismantled. Moving here and there would damage the atmosphere of a studio to the ground.”
The objects on Zhu Wei’s worktable are so plentiful that we cannot but feel dazedly that this is an amusement park: professional skateboard, perfect hockey stick, Sanyo manual operation radio, tape measure, dumbbell, basketball, painting tools could all be found on it. No wonder we could always find three-thousand great worlds in Zhu Wei’s paintings, work, leisure and entertainment could all be done in his studio.
However, Zhu Wei is exploring in painting during all these years. Someone said he is a “system rebel”; someone calls him as a “Chinese avant-garde painter”, someone give him the title of “the sticker of ink and wash improvement”. Maybe it is just his explorations that make his painting an odd in this era but exactly the right thing. In the year 2004, the IBM Building located at No. 590, Manhattan Street in New York, installed Zhu Wei's bronze sculpture “China, China”, and next to it, are the works of many famous artists, such as Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder and others. Zhu Wei is invited as the first visiting artist from mainland China by Singapore Tyler Print Institute. Not only that we could find Zhu Wei’s works on auctions like Christie and Sotheby, but also, some reputable collectors, institutions and museums also collected works of Zhu Wei.
Nowadays, the Chinese artists have rapidly become ‘the richest’ class. While every Chinese are pursuing a better life, I am pursuing something simple.” Zhu Wei said. Zhu Wei attends the world top art exhibitions like Art Basel, Venice Biennale, and Kassel Documenta almost every year. However, after taking a broader view, he fortified himself to go on the way of ink and wash painting. ‘I care contemporary art of China very much. Currently, people are all imitating from the West, which led to the danger that their works are neither Chinese nor western.’ As a pioneer of this generation with many years famous reputation, he knows that he is very lucky, because he could do whatever he likes on his competence. ‘Calm as I am, pursuing a better life is not my goal.’
Today, his amazing ink and wash paintings are still full of loose characters as well as tones between fashion culture and respected tradition. During our chatting, I always “see” the flash from his mind. His passion is never dying as the days pass by. He said: “In fact, I have little interest in painting now. I hardly chat with my friends about painting. I like talking about something other than painting. Painting itself cannot trigger a lot of inspiration to me, while other kinds of arts And the relaxing life gives me more thinking and innovation. ”
A list of my life quality in 2009
Shangri-la: Where did you have your happiest trip in 2009? What have you played?
Zhu Wei: I spent three months in Boston when I went to the U.S.A for the export of labor service. I basked myself in the sun by the side of the pool, and roast for three months without doing anything. Just eat and sleep, sleep and eat without answering any phone-call.
Shangri-la: Which is your favorite thing you bought for yourself this year?
Zhu Wei: A top professional hockey stick.
Shangri-la: Where did you enjoy your most delicious meal this year?
Zhu Wei: “1949” dining hall behind Pacific Century Place Beijing.
Shangri-la: Compare your drinking capability with last year, how is it?
Zhu Wei: I am afraid of drinking too much now, doctor told me in October that I am suffering a high blood lipid.
Shangri-la: Which sport does you like most this year? Have you fall in love with a new sport?
Zhu Wei: Ice hockey.
Shangri-la: What kind of literature and art work do you like most?
ZHU Wei: The raree show I watched at the temple fairs this spring festival.
Shangri-la: Can recommend a book you read this year?
Zhu Wei: The novel Cang Huang.
Shangri-la: Which phenomenon do you hate the most this year? And what do you support the most?
Zhu Wei: Don’t always mention “beat anything”. A lot of movements happened one after another in the 60 years. There would be one movement every three or five years, and each movement lasts on average three to five years. No matter big or small, families need to take a long view in life, rather than moving forward depending on one after another movement. Don’t always be as if there are wolves running after you or be like cannot find a toilet when you are caught short. I strongly suggest people to get rid of such defect; we are no longer kids now.
Shangri-la: Which aspect in your life changed most?
Zhu Wei: We plan to have baby this year.
Shangri-la: In the social environment, what has made the greatest impact on you this year?
Zhu Wei: The whole society is stepping backward with big strides as a result of the economic crisis. Everyone has been influenced, so do me.
《香格里拉》 2009年12月刊 “九个人的2009”栏目
当代艺术圈里，朱伟是上世纪90年代初最早一批被正规在商业运作的艺术家，从1993年便开始与分支机构遍布欧洲、美国和香港的万玉堂画廊合作，1994 年，香港举行了“万玉堂画廊朱伟作品展”。展后第二天，香港各大媒体报道了展览花絮：几个收藏者因为“哄抢” 朱伟的画差点打起来了，后来，所有的画都被一抢而空，这一紧密的合作关系持续到2005年。在这十余年的过程中，朱伟以水墨为创作媒材的作品得到了海外藏家和艺术机构的关注和认可。朱伟的画记录了一个时代，也记录了一个国家。