Zhang Wei Guang, also known as Mirror

Zhang Wei Guang, also known as Mirror

Author: Giulia Perin

Zhang Wei Guang is able to imitate the iridescent and polished surface of a mirror, on which the reflection of a composition preserves its oriental traditions and looks at the future; this reflection is the symmetry of reality.” (A. Imponenete, About Caravaggio. Visioni e illusioni contemporanee)

Zhang Wei Guang, also known as Mirror, was born in China in 1968. He is one of the most interesting figures of the contemporary art scene.

His international debut took place in Boston, in 2000: this was the first step towards a long series of successes that he achieved in the West. As a matter of fact, he demonstrated a strong ability to interpret his original culture and that of different countries, far away from him, but that he manages to understand, elaborate and, often, enrich.


Mirror and Giorgio Morandi

The exhibition “FACE 2 FACE Mirror vs Giorgio Morandi”, organized in Rome in 2007, was a very important event for Mirror’s recognition in the Italian artistic scene.

This event perfectly delineated the distinctive features of the oriental master’s art through a comparison between him and Giorgio Morandi.

Mirror’s ability to evoke the most important artists in the history of art is extraordinary. By observing the objects situated on iridescent and polished surfaces, the artistic memory does not halt to Morandi or to the artists from the “Ritorno all’ordine”, but it reaches back to the still lives of Cézanne.

Another evident reference for Mirror’s still lives is Michelangelo Merisi, known as Caravaggio, who was the most important exponent of this genre.


Mirror’s Technique

The predilection for still-life paintings and the choice of a limited inventory of objects that he places on a simple surface in various positions are the starting points of this painter. His art starts from the analysis of the relations between the everyday objects and their tonal and evocative qualities.

Although he does not abandon the traditional Chinese pictorial art, the Guohua (a technique consisting of clean linearity of forms traced with ink on rice-paper and silk), which remains his constant reference, Zhang Wei Guang uses also Western techniques in his “still lives”.

Mirror creates compositions that preserve an essential connection to the elegant and simple elements immersed into refined atmospheres of Chinese paintings, showing the calligraphic quality of the art of his country. Nevertheless, the importance of his Western studies is evident in his works: he uses oil paint, known as youhua, introduced in the 17th century by the Jesuits.

Zhang Wei Guang obtains an unusual effect in Chinese figurative art, reign of the two-dimensional, by using oil paint and by increasing the sense of depth in his compositions.


Mirror’s Influences

The intensity of the relationship between Mirror and his origins emerges from different elements, such as the essentiality of forms, the elegant atmospheres, and the predilection for the calligraphic marks, as demonstrated in his chinawares.
Apart from these finely decorated chinawares, he often dedicated himself to scrolls of ideograms, branches of cherry trees, oranges and apples, rendered in a totally realistic style.

Still lives by Mirror are veiled by a sort of spatial and temporal suspension, reminiscent of the Italian movement “Realismo magico”. These compositions are apparently precise and defined, but they seem to hide in their inner essence a mysterious energy that could safeguard some far and inaccessible world. The illusionist art of this Chinese painter is bound to the ancient science of mirrors. This artist participated with Basket of Apples in the exhibition “About Caravaggio. Contemporary visions and illusions”, which took place in Rome in 2013. In this show, the strong influence of Caravaggio, which affected contemporary art, fully emerged.

“Like in the past, also in these contemporary works the everyday objects take on critical and symbolic values, […] which offer the opportunity to ponder over China’s actual situation”. (Rigillo 2008) Mirror’s modernity embraces the past during its unstoppable outburst towards the future.

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