Wei Jia was trained in ink painting from a young age. His early proficiency led him to study at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. Yet he found the rules of traditional Chinese calligraphy too stifling, and as he began his graduate studies in the U.S., he sought out new means of expression. When viewed through the lens of traditional Chinese painting, however, Wei Jia’s oeuvre may be accurately described as an extension of its development, rather than a break from history. Ever mindful of this tradition, which he continues to hold in high esteem (he still practices calligraphy on a daily basis), Wei Jia incorporates methods and materials that he learned in the U.S.; collage and gouache appear regularly in his art. Wei’s work redefines tradition through his use of bold colours, his methodical tearing and remounting of Xuan paper, and the re-appropriation of Chinese script, which he strips of meaning and treats as abstract forms.
In his calligraphic collage works, Wei Jia literally tears apart his handiwork in order to create something wholly unique. Working on several sheets of Xuan paper layered together, he methodically covers the surface with traditional Chinese characters, using a mixture of Chinese ink and gouache. Inspired by nature, he is drawn to colours that to him evoke a certain mood or memory. After studying the individual shapes of the brushstrokes, as well as the spaces between them, he begins to pull these elements apart, tearing fragments of paper from the surface, rearranging and layering them, and repeating this process over and over again until he feels the work is complete.
Beginning from the meditative exercise of writing calligraphy, Wei Jia’s subsequent method of deconstruction allows the element of chance to enter his artistic process, and each piece becomes a puzzle for the artist to solve. The resulting ‘all-over’ compositions achieve a rhythm made up of void (space) and non-void (brushstrokes). Coupled with the layered gradations of colour that arise from his process, each work emanates a unique presence that invites the viewer to take a closer look.