The magical effect of double “ready-mades”

Chen Danqing

Peng Wei’s new works have the magical effect of double “ready-mades,” which are composed of two easily accessible materials.  Plastic mannequins were wrapped in xuan paper, which was then peeled off to reveal a hollow female figure.   As xuan paper has an inherent beauty and lightness, the classical landscapes of mountains and water, insects, and figures that cover the surface are a fragmented parody of the different categories of beauty in classical Chinese painting.  Because of its color and ink painting style and its exuberant humor, the painting surface is subverted while it is simultaneously given shape.  The surface layer of these objects relies on painting.  In terms of theory, however, it is clearly considered a sculptural work.  Furthermore, in concept, it obliquely references installation.  In fact, the artist is painting on xuan paper.  It gives the impression, however, that the enjoyment of the painting in the moment depends on a sculpture; once again, it is comfortably ensconced within the three-dimensional space of sculpture as well as painting.
To some degree, the last generation of local artists one-sidedly engaged in pop art consciousness by emulating its intellectual forms; for Peng Wei, however, it is a kind of personal game.   Only within the context of a game will art have vividness, freedom, and creativity.   Since the new century, “experimental art” worldwide has sought light-hearted concepts as well as commercial appeal.  It breaks away from complexity and seriousness to be direct, simple, and aesthetically pleasing.  It is intentionally meticulous in imparting contemporary ready-mades with even more opportunities and varieties of ready-made.  Peng Wei’s “Embroidered Shoes” and “Brocade Robes” series’ have always had both the classical elegance of Chinese painting as well as the concise symbolism of post-modernism.  In the end, however, it is limited by the categorization of classical Chinese painting.  This group of new works goes beyond traditional patterns as the qualities of “classical Chinese painting” are completely manipulated in the process of realizing and de-familiarizing the works within the three-dimensional space of this game of installation.  Yet, the essence of classical Chinese painting is never in any way compromised; instead, it finds fresh appeal.