ZHANG WEI - Galerie Max Hetzler

Opening: 5 November, 6-9 pm

Galerie Max Hetzler is pleased to announce the upcoming exhibition with new paintings and works on paper by Zhang Wei in Bleibtreustrasse 45. This is the artist's first solo show with Galerie Max Hetzler.

Zhang Wei is regarded as one of the first abstract painters in China. After having been excluded from any educational artistic program, Zhang joined the self-organised and unofficial artist collective Wuming (No Name) in the mid-1970s. The young painters of the group tried to develop their own ideas as well as artistic approaches and attempted to express themselves in contrast to the established, politically supported art forms.

During the post-Mao era of the late 1970s and 80s, at a time that was more culturally open, Zhang learned about Abstract Expressionism of western artists in exhibitions, such as Jackson Pollock, and also met Robert Rauschenberg during his visit to Beijing. These encounters offered him a different view on his own artistic practice and encouraged Zhang's aim for personal freedom of expression by dedicating himself to a non-representational form.

In his exhibition with Galerie Max Hetzler Zhang shows a selection of new abstract paintings. His works pick up particularly the immediate and intuitive approaches of action painting. Nevertheless, alongside references to western modern painting, Zhang's works also allude to traditional Chinese ink and calligraphy techniques. Similarly, his practice reminds of the Asian tradition of “qi”, that describes painting as a process of releasing energy when ink and paper touch through the brush.
Zhang's spontaneous brushwork and the dynamic and direct paint application enable a vivid and sometimes even dramatic imagery. Every brushstroke is visible and allows the viewer to retrace the production process. Bold colours overlap and build an intense interplay of shades. However, large parts of the canvas remain blank and thus mark an important component of Zhang's paintings. He himself calls it incompleteness, though this term does not indicate a missing part but rather a purposely intended compositional element.

In addition to Zhang's paintings the show presents early works on paper. Dated between 1973 and 1978, the works depict figurative scenes, mostly landscapes and offer an insight into Zhang's early oeuvre. At a time where landscape painting and in particular outdoor painting was frowned upon in China as a bourgeoisie past-time, these works illustrate Zhang Wei's longing for individual expression which eventually led to an exceptional abstract language.

At the same time, Galerie Max Hetzler presents the exhibition Playtime with works by Konstantin Grcic in Goethestrasse 2/3.

Zhang Wei was born 1952 in Beijing where he currently lives and works. At the end of the 1970s, Zhang worked as a stage designer at the Northern Kun Opera in Beijing. From 1986 until 2005 Zhang lived in the U.S.. His works have been exhibited in international institutions, most recently at M+ Sigg Collection, Hong Kong (2016); Beijing Minsheng Art Museum, Beijing (2015); Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2014); Asia Society, Hong Kong (2013); China Institute Gallery, New York (2011); Yuan Art Museum, Beijing (2010) and CaixaForum, Barcelona (2008).

Further exhibitions and fair participations:

Beatriz Milhazes
17 October – 19 November 2016
57, rue du Temple 75004 Paris

Konstantin Grcic
5 November – 23 December 2016       
Opening: 5 November, 6–9 pm
Goethestrasse 2/3, Berlin-Charlottenburg

Art Basel Miami Beach
1 – 4 December 2016

Press contact:
Galerie Max Hetzler
Berlin: +49 30 346 497 85-0
Paris: +33 1 57 40 60 80