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Chasing Shadows

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 1988.

Follow him as he chases the ever changing shadow and fading light of the Pacific sun.

Gunnar Nordstrom
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 US citizenship.
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 Chinese artists.

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.

Chen Xiangbo
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.”

Huang Zongxian
Dean and Professor, Sichuan University Academy of Fine Arts
In Chengdu, China, on March 26, 2010


Dream Painter

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 loneliness.

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 artist.

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.

He Duoling
Painter and Professor at Blue Top Studio, Chengdu


Scenery Played Through the Light – Liang Wei’s Oil Paintings

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.

Wang Lin
Professor, Sichuan University Academy of Fine Arts
Chongqing, China
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 fairytale scene.

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.”

He Gong
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 paintings.

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 world.

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 an audience.

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 life.

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 encounters.

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



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