Zhu Wei was born in Beijing in 1966 and studied art at the Beijing Children’s Palace from 1974 to 1975. In 1982 he joined the People’s Liberation Army and graduated from the Art College of the P.L.A. in 1989. In 1992 his army unit was decommissioned and the following year he went to study at the Beijing Academy of Film. He also established his own studio, the Zhu Wei Art Den. In 1994, he began to gain international acclaim following his first one-man exhibition presented by Plum Blossoms Gallery, Hong Kong. Zhu Wei is recognized as a most prolific painter, having produced six voluminous publications on his work that deals primarily with characters out of China’s modern history. Zhu Wei divides his time between his studios in Beijing and New York, spending most of his time however, in Beijing. He exhibits his art through galleries and museums internationally.
Sweet Life No. 38, 1999
Watercolor and Ink on Paper
76" x102" (193cm x 259.1cm)
About this work
Zhu Wei’s inspiration for his art is fundamentally political yet self-expressive beyond that which is typical of the group of post-1989 Cynical Realists who come from his generation. He calls his own art books diaries because he believes his work records events he has personally lived through in China since the Cultural Revolution. His work is made up of narratives of everyday situations and historical moments that are slightly updated. In “Sweet Life No. 38”, he has painted Chairman Mao and one of his officers having a discussion in front of two anonymous figures who are busy eating and oblivious to their leaders. The background of this over-sized ink on paper piece includes traditional elements of Chinese brush paintings such as ancient calligraphy and birds singing in blossoming branches. The words, however, are not from a poem by a famous Chinese poet. They are lyrics by the Chinese rock and roll singer Cui Jian. The painting also contains twenty-six seals by the artist.