About this artwork
Zhang Wei was a critical figure in the development of avant-garde art in China. Self-trained, he began his career as a key member of the No Name Art Group, which was the most significant clandestine artists’ group formed in the early 1970s. After leaving its ranks in 1979, Zhang became one of the first artists in the country to make abstract paintings following the Cultural Revolution. His approach to abstraction is grounded in his knowledge of traditional Chinese ink painting, in which an emphasis is placed on expressing emotion through the gestural movement of the brush.
AC10 depicts two glowing amorphous turquoise forms on a raw linen plane. The color is at once translucent and delicately built up. Zhang was interested in producing an allover composition in which the viewer cannot identify where that artist had begun or ended his mark making. He has discussed this particular painting with reference to power and art, remarking, “The big blue painting that I painted in 1984—the one I love so much! … I borrowed that [concept of power] from the Chinese traditional mentality. There is this Chinese saying, ‘power is formless.’ That’s my language too.” Formless power is an apt description of the whole of Zhang’s practice; from his first painting, his art has always been subversive. He worked always outside of China’s official arts institutions, first as part of the No Name Art Group and later when he used his apartment as a makeshift salon and art gallery. In so doing, he became influential within the underground art movement of the early 1980s.
Currently Off View
- Contemporary Art
- Wei Zhang
- Made 1984
- Oil on linen; 2 panels
- 180 × 312 cm (70 7/8 × 122 7/8 in.)
- Through prior purchase from the Mary and Leigh Block Fund
- © Zhang Wei / Boers-Li Gallery