Essay and Review from Galleries and Curators
Landscape paintings are common throughout the world and every region
has its beauty that has been captured by artists for centuries.
In art history, it isn’t new that an artist in one culture
has ventured off to another part of the world to explore and create
in a foreign environment where cultural influences and visual stimulations
change perspectives in the way subject matter is viewed. New experiences,
new surroundings and new methodology are all influences with any
immigrant, as it is so, with the artist Liang Wei.
We dream, we visualize and we participate in experiences that influence
our lives forever. Remembrances of a moment ago or déjà
vu from an undetermined origin are often pleasant and comforting
thoughts and it is those heartwarming and pleasant memories that
Liang Wei strives to capture on canvas with his paintings.
Moody, thoughtful and alluring are a few words that are frequently
used to describe the paintings of Liang Wei as he wanders the west
coast of the United States capturing landscapes and western culture.
Influenced by Americana and artists, Edward Hopper, Grant Wood and
Northwest Contemporary Susan Bennerstrom, Liang Wei’s landscapes
reflect a style that is moody, provocative and thought provoking
all combined with an excellent foundation in composition, design
and technique. His exploration of landscape painting is defined
by creating mood rather than fact in combining intellect and emotion.
Not a realist, not a Naturalist and not an Impressionist, Liang
Wei is a “Moodist.” The impressionists wanted to capture
the moment, Liang Wei captures a mood. Lingering and delicious,
his paintings of long afternoon shadows or a dawn’s rising
sun are remembrances of feelings long put away in our memories that
are awoken again and again when viewing his paintings. The scent
of freshly cut grass as the afternoon sun casts a long shadow from
a lonesome tree or the lung filling fresh air and dry grass from
standing cliff side above the Columbia River as it meanders through
central Washington. These are moments, moods and instinctual remembrances
that are provoked and cherished by his paintings.
While Liang Wei doesn’t walk alone in the painting world,
he is still searching, exploring and experimenting with a delicate
dance between the rhythm of his past and the structure of living
in a western culture. A Northwest contemporary painter, Liang Wei
has lived, painted and embraced the Pacific Northwest as home since
Follow him as he chases the ever changing shadow and fading light
of the Pacific sun.
Gunnar Nordstrom Gallery
Wei Liang was born in the Bashu region of China, a rich agricultural
zone with a five thousand year history. Wei Liang gained a great
appreciation for nature at an early age which continues to this
day and is an important part of his artwork. He attended the Sichuan
Fine Arts Academy, and graduated in 1986. While working for Sichuan
University as Art Director, he was invited by the University of
Washington to be a visiting scholar. Very soon, he was approached
by Twin Crane Gallery of Seattle to do a one-man show. Wei Liang's
work was so well received that he realized he might find a voice
in the United States. In addition, He was fascinated with the
natural beauty of the Northwest. As a visiting scholar, Wei traveled
extensively, seeing as much of the US as possible. He fell in
love with the country and its people, so much so that he sought
His works has been described by others as 'thoughtful', 'calm
' and 'tranquil'. His whimsical rendering of clouds appear to
be both static and in motion at the same time. He is fascinated
by winter's long shadows and bare trees. Aluminum "Airstream"
campers and tear drop trailers parked in remote campsites are
often a theme in his paintings. Wei Liang is inspired by his travel
time and frequent escapes into America's natural parks and forests.
He enjoys the freedom to move about the country. Employing strong
colors with fresh exuberance, Wei Liang's paintings celebrate
the pristine beauty and wide open expanses of his new found country.
The diverse cultural mixture of our citizens is part of our country's
greatness. Wei Liang's artistic talents are a welcome addition
to the melting pot which is America.
Dr. J.Price Garner
Artist & Metalsmith
Mr. Liang Wei is a well-known Chinese painter now living in Seattle.
Liang traveled to the United States in the late 1980s to study.
Before leaving China, he lived for a time in the countryside,
served in the army and worked as an art editor. In 1982 he attended
the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts, where he developed an appreciation
for Asian decorative style, which can be seen in the Yi Culture
themes of his early work. Upon Liang’s arrival in the United
States, the dissonance between eastern and western tastes led
him to cultivate his own artistic vision.
Liang found life in America free spirited and dynamic, and North
America’s scenery magnificent – conditions ideally
suited to spur his artistic creativity. The artist drew both from
his formative years in China and the air of freedom he now breathed
in America to create unique landscape paintings. Liang has an
uncanny ability to capture moments of beauty and tranquility,
using color, light and shadow to conjure mysterious moods. His
bold compositions are enhanced by the bending of perspective’s
limits to evoke a child-like innocence, encouraging audiences
to join him in his fanciful, imaginary worlds. This style reflects
the contrast between Oriental concepts of tradition and more western
cultural influences, which is part of the charm that artists such
as Liang bring to their work.
Greater interaction between China and the west has brought attention
and success to Chinese artists able to integrate the influences
of both cultures. Since its establishment, the Guan Shanyue Art
Gallery has hosted many solo exhibitions for expatriate Chinese
artists. This year, based on evidence of this group’s growing
international influence, we are organizing the Guan Shanyue Art
Gallery Series Exhibition of Overseas Chinese Artists, which will
reflect the positive response to their work that these artists
have enjoyed. Through such exhibitions, we also hope to deepen
the public’s understanding of this special group of overseas
Finally, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all
those who worked hard on this show. Let’s share Mr. Liang
Wei through all the paintings he has brought us and wish him future
success with his art.
Curator of Guan Shanyue Art Museum
February 25, 2010
Free Spirit of a Soul Herder – The emotions of
Liang Wei’s Paintings
Serene clouds, a fine breeze, quiet water, silent mountains,
big sky and wide land, like a field of heaven, the landscape of
a dream, a visual poem….
Whenever I see Liang Wei’s paintings, I recall 18th century
German art historian Johann Winckelmann’s appraisal of ancient
Greek sculpture as “noble simplicity, solemn greatness.”
Liang is not a sculpture-based artist, nor does he have the slightest
European ancestry, but his art transcends time and space as well
as ethnic boundaries. In his work I can feel the pulse of art
thousands of miles away, and sense the ideal goal that is so hard
to achieve yet never disappears. The simplicity and solemnity
of Greco sculpture reflects the ancient Greeks’ quest for
a quiet soul and harmonious spirit. Likewise, Liang’s art
is clean, simple, elegant, tranquil and meaningful.
Liang is a dream seeker, a soul herder. From his early years
until middle age, from his hometown to distant foreign lands,
he always searched for the deeper meaning of life. He experienced
the cacophony of the city, but came to realize that his soul is
rooted in the natural world. So for the past two decades, he has
focused his eyes and heart on nature, passionately employing paint
and brush to depict both the contemporary American west and the
beauty of ancient China. Urban hustle and bustle disappear in
his works, replaced by bright, pure colors and soothing compositions
– attributes that reflect a calm, relaxed attitude toward
life and a quiet state of mind.
In art circles today, there are numerous dream seekers, but most
of them would lose heart if knocked down by cruel reality. They
weakly confront the disorderly, twisted world, or paint pictures
of rebellion against orthodoxy in the name of “fashion.”
Whether by weak confrontation or dark agreement, they have lost
the spirit of art. Over the years, Liang sought his dream in the
country with the most vigorous art, yet he was never distracted
by the milieu’s dazzle. Instead, he heeded his heart’s
calling, listened to nature and built his own spiritual land.
Study Liang’s paintings – the still clouds, the flowers
and fields, mountains and alpine lakes, old houses in old cities
– all of them display a distant, ethereal mood, a glassy
world of silence that takes viewers beyond nature into Liang’s
personal spiritual world. One feels a sense of transcendent calm
in contrast to the harshness and vicissitudes of daily life.
Seeing Liang’s paintings, my heart is moved once again
by the inspiration of Zhuang Zi “having unfettered tour
after having a quiet and serene heart, having the happiness after
having unfettered tour.”
Dean and Professor, Sichuan University Academy of Fine Arts
In Chengdu, China, on March 26, 2010
Liang Wei, whose ancestors originated in Xingtai, Hebei Province,
was born in Sui Ning of Sichuan Province, and moved to Seattle
in 1990. Before that, he lived in China 30 years, working as a
farmer, soldier and teacher. He attended the Central Academy of
Fine Arts, and in 1982 entered the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts
on the basis of excellent test results. In 1986 he was invited
by Mr. Ye Yushan, dean of the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts, to
participate in an art exhibition with another student, Qing Hongyi.
This was the first self-selected exhibition ever by students at
the academy, and led to personal exhibitions by other students
at the Academy of Fine Arts in China.
Upon his arrival in America, Liang made his living selling his
paintings. Soon afterward, he was listed as one of ten Chinese
oil painters. His was a difficult vocation. The best painters
possess well-honed skills, and their work contains subtle connotations.
Liang’s work has such connotations. Liang has written, “A
painting worker paints only what he sees. A true artist paints
what he thinks as well as what he sees.” In the Qing Dynasty,
Wang Fuzhi wrote in his literature, “A scenario has two
parts. Reality is necessary, but there should also be feeling.”
Painting is the same as poetry – they have the same spirit.
Liang is accomplished at painting natural landscapes. He enjoys
taking field trips, driving around North America in all seasons,
whether to remote settings or famous destinations. He paints authentic
American landscapes, but not traditional ones. Viewing his paintings,
one sees both the real and the dreamlike. In this sense, Liang
is a “dream painter.” For instance, in his work Grow
Under the Sun, a tree stands between heaven and earth, stretching
its limbs to embrace the shining light. Liang’s entire Tree
Series is the painter’s explanation of life, nature and
Liang is a simple man, honest and kind, no different than other
ordinary people. But his paintings are imbued with a sense of
loneliness that is hard to appreciate. To some extent, painting
is Liang’s way to express his loneliness. This emotion is
embodied in the use of light and color. His paintings always include
large swaths of cool colors, giving viewers a cold feeling. However,
due to Liang’s love of life, even among the vast cold there
is always some warmth – his paintings are harmonious in
color arrangement. Perhaps this is a combination of the actual
environment and Liang’s early experience as an Asian street
Some say America is “beautiful mountains and waters, but
so lonely.” This phrase also expresses my feelings toward
Liang’s paintings. Mr. Sun Zhongshan once said, “Only
an uncommon person can do what is uncommon.” Liang lived
for a long time in a foreign land, but now he has returned to
China to further develop his art. I expect new breakthroughs in
Liang’s painting style now that he has returned home.
Painter and Professor at Blue Top Studio, Chengdu
Scenery Played Through the Light – Liang Wei’s
I met Mr. Xiaogang Zhang and Mr. Yongqing Ye some years ago.
They and Wei Liang were working to create a style of painting
using new materials. This involved using a metal pen to draw an
outline on paper, then rubbing oil paint onto the paper. The color
soaked in where the surface of the paper had been torn by the
pen, and the color appeared bright and bold because the paper
absorbed oil. The origin of this painting style was related to
a color painting style found in murals in some old countryside
temples in China’s Yu Nan Province. At that time, Liang
Wei was helping sell those paintings in the United States, but
I don’t know if the paintings were popular.
Art is always created within a particular social, cultural and
historical atmosphere. Mr. Zhang Xiaogang became a well-known
painter of family and personal portraits not due to the influence
of Gerhard Richter, but from his own life experience and pratice
with his artist friends. We should look at Liang Wei’s artwork
in the same way.
Liang Wei has lived in America a long time. His work shows America
as a place with fresh air and plenty of sunlight. Although his
work is primarily landscapes, it actually reflects the personalities
of the American people: outgoing, bubbly, straightforward and
easygoing. Look at these paintings more closely and you’ll
find that his later style has much in common with his earlier
metal pen drawings and paintings. The color of his artwork is
extremely rich – red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise blue
and purple. It seems every possible color is used in his paintings.
Using the spectrum as a keyboard, his paintings resemble music.
People who know how to paint know that when you use bright colors,
it is easy to appear frivolous and tacky. Liang Wei’s work
is strong and powerful thanks to his use of light and shadow,
different color combinations and his personal style.
His paintings – whether they are trees, grass or sheds,
the desert, plains and distant mountains, lake scenes in the summer
or snow-covered ground in winter – have the power to draw
viewers in. As an immigrant, Liang Wei’s attraction to American
culture and scenery seems to be a little bit involuntary. The
shadows on treetops or the exotic light atop distant mountains
gives you a feeling of contradiction. Seeing Liang Wei’s
experiences in America through his paintings, we get a sense of
freedom as well as anxiety. Sometimes his work is realistic, sometimes
it is abstract. Yet in every stroke, every drawing, you feel his
strong emotions. His art displays a love of beauty as well as
man’s eternal confusion about life. But there is no need
to be anxious about this seeming contradiction. There are a lot
of possibilities between being light and relaxed and being tight
and heavy. The artist needs room to feel, to practice and to be
able to wait for the right moment to create.
Professor, Sichuan University Academy of Fine Arts
March 30, 2010
Heart Like the Landscape – Liang Wei and His Paintings
About 20 years ago in Vancouver, Canada, I met Liang Wei at Gu
Xiong’s home. It appeared at the time he was not interested
in fashionable topics. He gave a smile and then got up and said,
“Well, you continue it. I have to leave,” whereupon
he drove back home to Seattle. When we said goodbye and shook
hands, though, I felt Liang was someone with strong beliefs.
Liang paints landscapes. On trips he drives a big touring car
that contains his portable studio as well as his home. He’s
always searching for scenery that touches his heart. Viewing Liang’s
work is like going on a journey with him – starting in Seattle
and heading for the Rocky Mountains, then turning southeast toward
Yellowstone National Park and Old Faithful Hot Springs, on to
the Colorado Plateau, Salt Lake City, and then going through the
Grand Canyon toward the New Mexico desert along Route 66 …
all these can be found in his paintings. Liang’s paintings
make you imagine the true scenery, going through vast grasslands,
skirting cliffs and enjoying a desert sunset.
As an Asian artist living in the west, Liang’s landscape
paintings contain both eastern and western cultural traditions.
Majestic but not exaggerated, concise but not too common: To some
extent we can call his paintings “heart like the landscape.”
What Liang describes is not only the scenery in the eyes but also
in the heart – what some may call “my scenery,”
as in “That’s my cloud, my light, my shadow.”
Large surface geometry and bold composition as common characteristics
of Liang’s paintings. He is adept as using material and
space, light and picture – as well as their links with each
other – to show the beauty of nature, creating a dreamlike
Liang’s paintings contain not only idyllic landscapes,
but also rich allegorical symbolism. He uses unique composition,
light, shadow, color and sophisticated technique to make his paintings
emotional descriptions of the concrete. In his work, everything
tells a story – each tree, each stone, each cloud seems
dreamlike, as if hiding some deeper thought. Each of his works
reflect not only his feelings as a painter, but also his devotion
to life, nature and meditation. When an audience views his paintings,
it can be as if as if a magical spell were cast – a dramatic
quiet can permeate a gallery as viewers are lost in deep thought.
When discussing landscape painting, Zhang Zao, a painter in the
Tang Dynasty, said, “Nature outside; in the heart is the
source.” The saying “one moon can illuminate all the
mountains of the world” suggests that while Chinese and
western artists use different methods to paint landscapes, the
theory is the same. There’s another old saying: “Throw
away the false things, learn the skills and seek the truth –
that is the goal of life.” Keeping that in mind helps one
appreciate the truth of Liang’s “heart like the landscape.”
Famous painter, Dean, Academy of Fine Arts of Sichuan Province
In Chengdu Gaodi Art Zone on March 28, 2010
Liang Wei Art Exhibition Foreword
Exploring the differences between western and eastern cultures,
finding inspiration within different surroundings, walking a path
through light and shadows, capturing the extraordinary beauty
of nature, awakening feelings buried deep inside one’s heart
– all of these reflect the spirit of Liang Wei’s landscape
When you happen upon Liang Wei’s work, what you see are
landscapes. But what you feel is a connection between your heart
and nature. His compositions are unique and the images are varied.
His paintings explore the realm where emotions and scenery merge.
Liang Wei’s landscapes are the combination of stillness
and motion, modesty and majesty, calming you down while making
you think. This is the real spirit of Liang Wei’s work.
I wish Liang Wei a bright future and further success in the art
Xu Wei Xin
Member of China Artists Association
Director of China Oil Painting Society
March 19, 2009
Colorful and Mysterious
The album of Liang Wei’s paintings shows us colorful and
mysterious landscapes in the Ba Shu regions of China and different
regions of America. During the past 20 years, Liang Wei has combined
his artistic inspiration from earlier years spent in China with
his travels and experiences living in America. His paintings create
a unique image, and their colorful visual effect always attracts
The contrast between light and shadow and the combination of
different colors give us genuine visual enjoyment as well as inspiration.
Each painting tells a story, shows us some emotions. His work
reflects his discovery of nature as well as his feelings about
Dai Shi He
Professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts
Head of Arts Faculty
March 18, 2009
To: Liang Wei
From: Molly Norris, Molly Norris is a freelance writer, cartoonist
and filmmaker living in Seattle, Washington.
Re: Exhibit Essay Final
Liang Wei travels and paints in the tradition of portraying landscape
as freedom, but freedom with a price. No longer the vast space
into which we could flee to reinvent our selves, on the far side
of any landscape we now likely encounter a Silicon Valley –
and hence encounter our selves. Wei’s paintings are about
space, but at the same time they are about man’s meaning
and purpose in a space that has become quantifiable.
Having spent most of his life in China before becoming a United
Sates citizen, Wei traveled from an ideological place to the land
of individuals. One senses the mental, physical and emotional
creativity sparked by an artist in a new land. Most of Wei’s
landscapes in this exhibit are expansive, their beckoning horizon
lines place him in space and betray his ‘point of view’—and
a point of view determines an individual.
In a painting such as “Last Sunshine,” one can hear
the quiet. Hills bathed in golden light waver between being land
or perhaps the abstract, textured close-up of a coat whose seams
double as roads. Yet clinging to the far side of a slope we see
the smallest teardrop trailer shining like a contemporary covered
wagon. Wei’s fantastic palette and abstract passages keep
the viewer optically searching yet calmed by some magical balance.
In other works train tracks disappear into sheer possibility
while lone automobiles lean into serpentine roads. Many of Wei’s
paintings suggest those of 1930’s regional painters such
as Canada’s Lawren S. Harris whose bold, vividly colored
canvases infused elements of the landscape with symbolic meaning.
Wei can stylize clouds to resemble sleek, hovering space ships.
In other works trees stand symmetrical in their frames. Such style
is not only pleasing to look at, but it also suggests the deeper
meaning of man’s ongoing desire to both collaborate with
and control nature.
Although one ought to have some control out here in open spaces
all alone: One never knows what they might encounter: empty silos,
beauty, the elements, perhaps their soul.
Through his amazing paintings, Liang Wei visually shares such
Journey throuth Western to Eastern and Shift Eastern to Western
Curator Xuetao Guan Shanyue Art Museum
In 2010 Liang Wei brought to the Shenzhen GuanShangYue Art Museum an exhibition entitled ‘Mysterious and Magnificent'. Liang Wei was true to form with his exquisite colors, and use of light and dark evoking strong ethereal images. Bold reds, purples, and blues rolling through the rural American landscape and country roads that disappear into valleys over rolling hills. He brought images from the U.S. to his native China through his painting.
One year later Liang Wei again brought images to show in Shenzhen ShuGuDang and displayed a major turnaround with his new work, “Journey Through the East and West”. The theme in this exhibit uses characters from contemporary reality. His paintings tell a story about the changes that have taken place in China in the last two decades.
Liang Wei's work in his 2012 exhibition has taken a new perspective, moving away from mysterious images of dark and light to social statements about contemporary issues, such as the lonely policeman titled: “Where Are We Going.” Even the policeman seems to be lost. We see bold figures in his drinking series, like cross arm drinking and fisherman giving up their life's trade to become businessmen. “Cycle” is a painting that shows the return of the salmon but the fishermen are not there to cast their nets. Instead of noble fisherman they are now wealthy businessmen. The generational tradition is broken. The viewer can empathize and possibly see his own reflection in the images.
Liang Wei has deep roots in Shenzhen , China . He has also lived and painted in the US for over 20 years which gives him a unique perspective on how fast China has moved forward, only to be inches away from passing the west. The changes are not just the external physical changes of China but the inner spiritual changes. This is what Liang Wei is compelled to express. Art reflects life.
Translet by Artist Jeff Day
Life of the Artist: Liang Wei's Shifting Landscapes