Grow Towards the Sun – A solo exhibition of Jiang Wei 姜维
Curator: Selena Yang
Exhibition Opening Date: 19:00 – 21:00, 27 Jun 2024
Exhibition Period: 27 Jun 2024 – 15 Aug 2024
Venue: Oooit Art – Werkspoor International Art Center
Address: Nijverheidsweg 27 (Unit P) , 3534AM Utrecht, the Netherlands
Art work information is available on our Artsy site.

Jiang Wei’s work inevitably brings to mind the master Van Gogh. Whether it is the intense colours, the bursting emotions, the rough brushstrokes, or the rhythm of the lines, one can feel the similarities between the two. Jiang Wei’s struggle with schizophrenia for over a decade has pushed him to create at the brink of mental stress, making his experience strikingly similar to that of Van Gogh.

Jiang Wei’s artistic talent is innate; he has an exceptional ability to capture the movement of objects and the play of light, infusing his paintings with dynamism and vitality. The forests and flowers he depicts make one feel as if they can hear the sound of the wind, sense the changing light, and see the petals falling like rain. The light in his works defies conventional logic, lacking shadows, gradients, or traditional perspective techniques. Particularly in his works featuring strong light in the background, the foreground, which would typically be in a blurred shadow, is rendered with meticulous and exaggerated detail. This approach resonates with the concerns of post-Impressionist artists about what kind of imagery is closer to reality and more attuned to human emotional perception. The use of large areas of flat colour, direct pure colour, and strong contrasting colours is not a method typically chosen by artists. In fact, even with our advanced technology, the highest-resolution cameras still cannot capture the light levels and rich colours that the human eye perceives. Jiang Wei’s works help us better understand Van Gogh’s pieces. Perhaps their shared struggles with mental health issues endowed them with the ability to perceive and depict this unique light and colour, along with the courage to portray it.

Jiang Wei’s works depict nature through both micro and macro narratives. Whether or not the sun is directly represented in his pieces, the light’s trajectory, expressed through colour and lines, infuses his plant life with a heliotropic quality – a primal force of life. These images may reflect the artist’s psychological state during his creative process, a journey marked by pain, frustration, and persistence. It represents a resilient mental state and a biological instinct – a profound longing for life. Those anxious, repressed, and restless emotions might be fully released in these pure, instinctive paintings reminiscent of a child’s simplicity. After the initial powerful impact of his artwork, beauty and solace emerge as the ultimate results. When we look at Van Gogh’s works, whether it is his sunflower series or the landscapes of wheat fields and vineyards, a similar sunward inclination is evident. Both artists engage in primal, life-affirming creation.

Jiang Wei’s works use unique lines and colour treatments to create a sense of perpetual motion. In contrast to Van Gogh, who conveys the vividness and vitality of natural scenes through swirling, undulating, and rapid brushstrokes and dense curves to imply movement, Jiang Wei’s art shows a clearer influence from traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy. His creative approach lacks some of the straightforwardness of Western art, embracing more of the subtlety found in Eastern aesthetics. The free and flamboyant ends of his brushstrokes possess the dramatic fluctuations akin to Chinese master Wang Xizhi’s cursive script, exuding a beauty of ever-changing vigour. The balance of density and openness and the interplay of void and solid in his paintings are deeply influenced by Song Dynasty literati paintings. Although he completely abandons the elegant colour combinations of classical Chinese art, favouring emotionally driven, intense expressionist colours, he achieves an extremely harmonious result on the canvas. This fusion perfectly unites the Eastern and Western reverence for nature and the pursuit of the essence of life.

Contemporary Chinese-Canadian artist Matthew Wang, whose fate mirrors that of Jiang Wei, has also garnered significant attention. Wang, like Van Gogh, succumbed to an early death, evoking a sense of lament due to his prolonged struggle with depression. His still life works show clear influences not only from Van Gogh but also from David Hockney and Henri Matisse. While Wang’s creative process reflects a deep absorption of post-Impressionist Western art, Jiang Wei’s art is a pure, outward eruption of emotional expression. Initially, my interest in collecting Jiang Wei’s works was driven by sympathy. His teacher, Mr. Lai Shengyu, a member of our artist group, provided continuous support and assistance for over a decade, helping him seek medical treatment for his schizophrenia. However, after long-term observation and study of his work, I believe that Jiang Wei does not need more sympathy; his work deserves to be professionally presented and seen by a broader audience. We often lament the premature demise of fleeting geniuses while ignoring the blazing fires of life around us. This exhibition’s purpose is to bring Jiang Wei’s work to Van Gogh’s homeland, the Netherlands, for the first time, seeking an emotional resonance that belongs to our era.

By Selena Yang, curator of the exhibition

Jiang Wei, born in 1983 in Liaoning, China, currently resides in Beijing. He graduated in 2007 from the School of New Media Art and Design at Beihang University with a major in Painting. He previously worked as a UX Designer. Due to a long-term struggle with schizophrenia, he began dedicating himself full-time to oil painting in 2019. In recent years, his works have been collected by prominent Chinese collectors and art professionals.