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Wu Yi Solo Exhibition - A Snap of Life

Curated by Dai Zhuoqun

2.18 - 3.13, 2021

Hong Kong


Tang Contemporary Art is proud to announce the opening of “A Snap of Life,” a new solo show for Wu Yi at the gallery’s Hong Kong space on February 18, 2021. The exhibition is curated by independent curator Dai Zhuoqun.


“A Snap of Life” features 53 of Wu Yi’s oil paintings from six different series: Military Life (2005), Legation Quarter Hotel (2006), Beijing Winter (2008), Prague (2013-2014), Aschaffenburg, Germany (2017), and Dunhuang (1998-2019). These six series were painted in oil, presenting decades of Wu’s artistic practice. As he traveled from East to West, Wu fused Chinese and Western painting techniques and used both oil and ink painting mediums.


Wu Yi is immensely skilled. He is “a painter’s painter” whose heart, hands, and eyes work in perfect concert. He has charted a unique course in contemporary ink, but he has also found a distinct style of oil painting; he engages with tradition from an ancient perspective, but he depicts scenes on a realistic scale.


Wu Yi began studying art at a young age. His paternal grandfather Wu Guoxun was a student of Jiang Zhaohe at the Beiping Jinghua School of Art in the 1930s. Wu’s parents and siblings are all painters.


Wu Yi studied under Lu Chen in the Chinese Painting Department at the Central Academy of Fine Arts. After graduating in 1993, he stayed on to teach in the Mural Painting Department, where he works today. Wu has worked in many mediums and forms over the last twenty years, including oil painting, ink painting, printmaking, and watercolor painting. His painting style is shaped and inspired by nature and his surroundings, and he draws on a wide range of elements in an attempt to find the one that best suits him.


In his early years, he painted Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts Series, Northern Shaanxi Series, Eastern Liaoning Series, Northwestern Series, Summer Series, Huangcun Series, and Dashanzi Series. After painting these series, Wu Yi spent six months in Paris in 2002. He painted more than four hundred small travelogue works paired with text, which he published in Paris Diary. The publication records walks, travels, and everyday observations in painting and text, which would shape Wu’s later travelogue works.


Most of Wu Yi’s oil paintings are related to his travels. These sets of paintings are paired with stream-of-consciousness diaries of tiny details, capturing what he saw and felt as he traveled. Because of the limitations of travel, he painted exclusively in small formats. As Wu Yi has said, his small paintings have two key characteristics. First, his small paintings capture the greatest possible ambience in a small space, and second, he uses a set of many small paintings to express what a large painting would.


Wu Yi CCTV Tower Oil on canvas 40 x 30 cm Frame size: 64 x 54 cm 2008

Wu Yi The Entrance to Hotel Fischer (Weissenburger Str.) Oil on canvas 50 x 40 cm Frame size: 71.5 x 61.5cm 2007

Wu Yi Woman No.3 Oil on canvas 32 x 22.5 cm Frame size: 50 x 40.5 cm 2013

Wu Yi Spring Oil on canvas 40 x 50 cm Frame size: 64 x 74 cm 2010

Wu Yi Receptionists Oil on canvas 100 x 80 cm Frame size: 122 x 102 cm 2006

Wu Yi Noodle Makers (1) Oil on canvas 70 x 60 cm Frame size: 85 x 75 cm 2006

Wu Yi Female Soldiers (2) Oil on canvas 50 x 40 cm Frame size: 69 x 59 cm 2005

Wu Yi Night Oil on canvas 40 x 50 cm Frame size: 57 x 67 cm 2010

Wu Yi Male Soldiers Oil on canvas 60 x 50 cm Frame size: 82 x 72 cm 2005

Wu Yi Kindergarten on a US Military Base Oil on canvas 50 x 60 cm Frame size: 64 x 74 cm 2007

Wu Yi Chemistry Laboratory Oil on canvas 50 x 40 cm Frame size: 76 x 65 cm 2010

Wu Yi Dongsi North Avenue Oil on canvas 30 x 40 cm Frame size: 56.5 x 55.5 cm 2008

Wu Yi Corner Tower Oil on canvas 30 x 40 cm framed size: 48 x 58 cm 2008


Wu Yi


Wu Yi was born in Changchun City, Jilin Province in 1966, and was admitted to the Chinese Painting Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1985. He graduated in 1989 with a bachelor's degree and taught at Luxun Academy of Fine Arts in the same year. Wu Yi held his first solo exhibition in Beijing in 1993. He is a lecturer of the Mural Painting Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts currently.

Wu Yi’s artworks have been introduced in important academic publications in China and also internationally, and have been collected by the Central Academy of Fine Arts, China Academy of Art, International Art Museum, CCTV Television Gallery, Shenzhen Huayun Culture and Art Company, Shenzhen Art Museum, Guangdong Art Museum, and also in Germany, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and other museums and private collections.

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Dai Zhuoqun


Dai Zhuoqun is an independent curator and art critic. He currently lives and works in Beijing. In 2007, he founded Contemporary Art magazine, where he served as chief editor and art director. He was also the executive director of White Box Museum of Art. In 2009, he launched and jointly curated the “Warm Winter” protest project in Beijing, one of the most important art events in recent years. He has since planned exhibitions and lectures with numerous art institutions, art academies, and museums. He has also published articles in international art magazines and other publications.
He has curated exhibitions such as “The Awakening of Things” (White Box Museum of Art, Beijing, 2011); “Superfluous Things” (Hive Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, 2013); “Civilization” (White Box Museum of Art, Beijing, 2013; OCAT, Xi’an, 2014; Hubei Institute of Fine Arts Museum, Wuhan, 2015); “DISSENSUS AGITATION – The Painting To Language” (Today Art Museum, Beijing, 2016), “Brushwork and True Feeling” (Tang Contemporary Art, Bangkok, 2018); “Approach Spirits” (N3 Contemporary Art, Beijing, 2018) ; “New Expression of Beijing” (N3 Contemporary Art, Beijing, 2018); “Free Prism Video Wave” (Boxes Art Museum, Foshan, 2019), etc.

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