The artist, Shen Wei, will have his first solo exhibition at Flowers Gallery, New York. He is known for his intimately revealing photographic portraits, in which the themes of identity, memory, sexuality and self-discovery are explored through the landscapes of his homeland, and the nude figure. Born and raised in Shanghai, China, Shen Wei is a visual artist based in New York City. His background has influenced his ideas in art, especially the idea of Qi – an unseen life force and a method of healing. “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.”
For Shen Wei, this mysterious vital energy is poetic and seductive. Using his own body and personality as a subject, he envisions the internal and external forces channeling through the body and its surroundings. Drawing from memories of his childhood as well as religious, historical and mythological imagery, the narrative is interwoven with elements of fantasy. 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 energy flow is deeply rooted in Chinese traditional culture, and is gaining wider interest in the contemporary western world. According to ancient philosopher Laozi, 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.)”
Besides photography, Shen Wei also works in video, mixed-media drawing, and performance. This exhibition will showcase his mixed-media pieces. This helps him to create the vision of a multi-dimensional world that the idea of Qi, with its material and immaterial deeply intertwined, requires. To coincide with his solo exhibition, Shen Wei is also curating a group show called “Second Thought” at Flowers Gallery, featuring work by Shiyuan Liu, Tingwei Li, and Peter Glenn Oakley.