Shen Wei: Invisible Atlas

Sanja Lazic

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I have always been fascinated about the idea of Qi– the subtle energy that permeates everything in life and links all its elements together. This idea constantly makes me curious about how human beings and the material world are universally related and bonded to each other – Shen Wei

What the artist Shen Wei is referring to is the traditional Chinese philosophy of Qi, defined as an unseen life force and a method of healing. Although known primarily for his very intimate, raw and revealing photographic portraits in which he questions identity, sexuality and self-acceptance, the latest focus of Wei’s work is specifically on this mysterious vital energy of Qi. Through his art, Wei will take on a journey of exploration, seductiveness and poetics that will be presented as a part of the artist’s first solo exhibition at New York’s Flowers Gallery this January….

Shen Wei - Sarangkot, 2014, acrylic on archival pigment print

Shen Wei – Sarangkot, 2014, acrylic on archival pigment print

 

The Energy of Qi

Unlike his older works, in Invisible Atlas topics are more personal and delicate than ever. The subject is the artist’s body and personality, through which he channels the internal and external forces. Other noticeable unavoidable elements are those of fantasy, deeply connected and rooted in his childhood memories and religious, historical and mythological imagery. Photographic subjects of the figure, objects and landscape are combined with minimally rendered drawings, where luminous dots, circles, arcs, arrows and waves give tangible form to imagined flows and concentrations of Qi. The concept of flowing energy is gaining more and more interest among the western audience and no wonder, since the ancient philosopher Laozi said, Qi embraces “all manifestations of energy, from the most material aspects of energy (such as the earth beneath your feet, the flesh and the blood) to the most immaterial aspects (light, movement, heat, thought, and emotion)”.

Simultaneously with Invisible Atlas that is scheduled to open January 22, Shen Wei is also curating a group show Second Thought at Flowers Gallery, featuring work by Shiyuan Liu, Tingwei Li and Peter Glenn Oakley. Invisible Atlas will be on view until February 28, 2015 at Flowers Gallery in New York.

Shen Wei - Pyramid, 2013

Shen Wei – Pyramid, 2013

 

About the Artist

Born and raised in Shanghai, China, Shen Wei is a visual artist based in New York City. He also works in video, mixed-media drawing, and performance. His work has been exhibited internationally, with venues including the Museum of the City of New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, the North Carolina Museum of Art, and the He Xiangning Art Museum. Shen Wei’s work is also included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, the Library of Congress, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Museum of Chinese in America, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Kinsey Institute. Wei is a recipient of the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Arts Residency, the Asian Cultural Council Arts & Religion Fellowship, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Arts Grant, and the Urban Artist Initiative NYC Fellowship. He holds an MFA in photography, video, and related media from the School of Visual Arts, New York; and a BFA in photography from Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

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Shen Wei - Dust, 2014

Shen Wei – Dust, 2014

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