Found in translation - Art Collector

  Peng Wei, Boris Pasternak to Rainer Maria Rilke, 2013. Ink on Rice Paper, 180 x 98cm. Courtesy: the artist and Tina Keng, Taipei

By Jason Chung Tang Yen

Peng Wei’s lyrical visual linguistics are elegant in their transition between Western context and the Eastern tradition. “I’m not interested to imitate the old,” says the 40-year old Sichuan born Chinese artist. Wei has been the center of attention in recent years.

As the daughter of the prominent traditionalist Peng Xiancheng, unlike her father’s conventional ink painting style, Wei’s signature is more contemporary in terms how she present her works, combined with chic and minimal compositions, three-dimensional works and new formalities to translate tradition to adapt current cultures.

Almost nostalgic, Wei often thinks about how life was back in ancient times. “The past has always been more attractive to me. I don’t like to imagine the future like how people predict in science fiction novels,” she says. By executing her creative work in a seemingly traditional way, Wei entered a new territory of her own vocabulary.

  Peng Wei, Distant Letters, 2012-2015. Hand Scrolls (Paintings Installation), 410 x 120 x 20cm. Courtesy: the artist and Tina Keng, Taipei

Hand scrolls and traditional Chinese ink painting albums were items found in royal or highly educated, wealthy families, it’s usually treasured and only taken out to be browsed and appreciated occasionally. Wei replaced the fine silk that protects the paintings with hand painted patterns, the instrument that is used to display and protect the paintings become part of the image itself.

Wei incorporates decorated elements into her works; she used the letters by Mozart, Beethoven, Van Gogh, and letter from poet Boris Pasternak to Rainer Maria Rilke, translated into Chinese then written alongside her scenic horizontal and vertical landscape scrolls or the scholar’s rock series. Represented by the leading gallerist Tina Keng in Taipei, this refreshing and creative touch received positive responses from the market.

In a way, Wei’s sentimental translation or reinterpretation of old customs become a guidepost for the transition into the future, after all, the future will become part of the past, in the future.

Coming Full Circle: Peng Wei Solo Exhibition shows at the National Museum of History in Taipei from 7 August to 20 September 2015.

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