Artist Wu Zhi Peng graduated from the Fujian Academy of Arts in the early eighties. He became a member of the famous contemporary Chinese art group “Xiamen Dada”. In the late eighties he moved to Australia. For his contribution to culture in Queensland, the Queensland Ministry of Culture awarded a “Cultural Champion Award” to him in 2013. Zhipeng has held several personal art exhibitions in mainland China, Taiwan and Australia. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions at home and abroad. In December 2014 be held he was invited to participate in the “Meet” exhibition in Xiamen, China Art Gallery exhibition hall where works of personal contemporary art were on show. The exhibition was composed of a variety of art forms, to represent artists’ perceptions of traditional and modern art, East and West, based on the present, and examining current artistic pursuits. One single work “Passing” consisted of. Stainless steel convex mirrors formed the composition for another art expression. The art work “Flower” was composed of more than 10,000 special black plastic pieces of cutlery. “Three”, an installation art work comprised of Ming porcelain broken into five thousand pieces formed a multi-branch effect. Eighteen panels, a total of twenty-four meters in length, depicted sixty contemporary figures. Another work “Encounter”, using a red wall as a backdrop, was made up of seventy world famous celebrity portraits. A contemporary sculpture comprising stainless steel knives, forks, and chopsticks and video, and interactive exhibition with the audience Wall forms. The novel exhibition theme presented the Xiamen audience with a wide perspective of unprecedented experimental contemporary world art. People flocked to the 10-day exhibition from other provinces. Viewers included specialty art lovers and peers of the artists. It was a memorable exhibition. The twenty meters of exhibition provided visitors an interactive wall. This brought much enthusiastic praise and great encouragement to the participants. The exhibition was conducted in a convivial atmosphere that will no doubt have many positive social repercussions. People queued to have the artists sign the prints and to express their appreciation. The Art Institute of Xiamen held special seminars organized around the exhibition of contemporary art. CCTV televised the exhibitions, Xiamen TV conducted a special interview with the artists reports appeared in the Xiamen Daily, Xiamen Radio also reported in a timely manner. Xiamen Haixi Morning Edition introduced almost all individual artists and exhibitions. China’s famous art website “Artron”, ” Zhang Xiong Art Network” also conducted interviews and reports throughout. The exhibition rekindled appreciation for Wu Zhipeng’s personal art and contemporary style.
Beginning of a new wind of tradition
When University entrance exams were restored in the late 1970s, Wu Zhipeng entered the College of Arts and Crafts in Xiamen, Fuzhou University. He systematically laid a broad and solid painting foundation by studying Painting Techniques, Creation Mode, Theory of Research and other aspects. Wu’s creations included: `Dentist’, `Prisoner of the Sea’, and a series of realist paintings.
Reform in the early 1980s ushered in a spring breeze. The openness to Western culture brought changing tides of thought and impacted cultural change, providing many opportunities for intercultural exchange. In these constantly colliding cultures, he avidly absorbed both foreign and new ideas. Using new ways of expression, Wu revived the use of realism to produce creations, extensively using new materials and tools. He focused on emotional expression while emphasizing the natural expression of the subconscious, culminating in the `Dreams of Childhood ‘ series, as well as organizing and participating in the challenging touch-type works of `The Xiamen Five’ exhibition.
After Wu immigrated to Australia in the late 1980s he viewed in person a large number of Western art masterpieces. In an environment away from his local culture, it was natural to embrace new thinking in his pursuit of art. He took on differing forms of modern Western art in his search for art’s intrinsic meaning. The `Dunhuang Impression’ series embraces expressionist style but also possesses exquisite Chinese charm.
With funding from Queensland Australia Ministry of Culture in 1996 the `Dunhuang Impression’ – Wu Zhipeng Art Exhibition’ was held in the Brisbane City Hall. Then Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts Joan Sheldon wrote in an exhibition program preface:
“By contemplating Zhipeng’s works you can feel the blend of Eastern and Western cultures as seen through the eyes of a young Chinese artist …”
After this Wu Zhipeng received an invitation from famous Taiwanese art critic Chiang Hsun to hold an exhibition in Taipei in 1998.
Returning to his origins
Wu has never lost his way in the tide of contemporary art, always maintaining inner independence and diligently struggling to find his artistic self. The old saying, “I use my own methods” albeit with his own assertiveness is appropriately illustrated in Wu Zhipeng’s recent series: `Passing’, `Encounter’ and `Views’ series. His works respect heart, soul and an inherent sense of shape in the external form, allowing the viewer to interactively resonate with his ideas.
Queensland Chief Curator of Contemporary Art Asia-Pacific Triennial Russell Storer said at the opening of Wu’s 2012 Exhibition `Passing’:
” He found the freedom and access to different artistic approaches a suitable framework to explore not only new directions in art, but also consider traditional practices in fresh and significant ways, expressing cultural connection and a way to be in this new place from one’s own perspective. The complexity of the migrant experience is powerfully reflected in this fusion of styles and approaches, while adding immeasurably to both traditional practice and to Australian art…. As the work, ‘Passing’, shows…we all occupy this space and make way for others.”
To change from a deeply inherited tradition to an innovative art form, from popular and fashionable Western tradition to discern the rich heritage of his local culture, from meticulous ‘photographic’ style to follow a path of return to self, from manifesting outer feelings to revealing inner feelings, is just as Wu Zhipeng said:
“My work is not traditional, it does not totally belong to current contemporary art style, however, it certainly is my own.”
A Cultural Champion award conferred by the Queensland Ministry of Culture affirms Wu’s persistent pursuit of art excellence, resulting in high achievements. His approach to art is sincere and honest. This is the key to works which are absorbing and fascinating.
China Artists Association
The Party Deputy-Secretary