“Ask Tea”, inspired by the colours and geometric composition used by Impressionists and Abstract Art, I tell the viewers an old-style teahouse still existing in my hometown. Drinking tea, talking about the world is still a way of life in a corner of the ever-changing city. The world is changing so fast, but maybe not for everything, for everyone, for everywhere.
Venice Biennale 2019, entitled May You Live in Interesting Times, pays close attention to the human society with the present tense. Also, in 2019 I create the photography mixed media series 1980’s, which perhaps can be said to cut into the reality from the past, and to introduce the problems that we need to think in a dynamic trajectory.
China in the 1980s was thriving under the policy of reform and opening up. People left the farmland that they had survived on in their hometowns and entered the cities to fight for a better life. Those mottled portraits seem to be the faces of these people who were once confident, and perhaps to be the faces of whom are now old and exhausted. The large-scale population movement that began in the 1980’s has accelerated the construction and development of many Chinese cities. While today, the country has many monotonous and boring urban landscapes filled with high-rise buildings. Cities have too many resources and attract more people to gather. It is getting bigger and bigger, but the resources that each one can be allocated are really limited. In the bustling city, the living space of many people is gradually being squeezed. I witnessed the 1980s, and I am also one look on and reflect, but I don’t know where the future will push us into.
Harmony in Diversity can be seen as a variant of A Wind from Yesterday, in which Fu Wenjun replaced the Euphrates poplar with the overlying of Western classic sculptures and Chinese ancient paintings. Then the dialogue between nature and civilization has evolved into the dialogue between Chinese and Western culture. It is evident that they represent two completely different aesthetic ideals: the Western sculptures pursue a perfect form, while the Chinese paintings adore the light and intangible spirit. Nevertheless, with the overlying performed by Wenjun, they do not appear to be inharmonious. In his own special way, the artist interprets the harmony in diversity, which represents a wisdom contributing to the continuous development of Chinese civilization and which can untie the hard knot of culture diversity and clash of civilizations. — — Peng Feng, Professor at Peking University School of Arts and curator of the Chinese Pavilion at the 54th Biennale di Venezia.
Wenjun’s creative output can be summed up by his term Digital Pictorial
Photography, which he uses to redefine the traditions found at the core of the
photographic arts. By demonstrating the complementary relationship of
photographs and other modes of artistic practice, Fu Wenjun transforms what may
seem to be an inaccessible message into a highly approachable concept that can
trigger critical thought about history and humanity.
Digital Pictorial Photography,
Illusory Metamorphosis No.8,
Photography, 110x140cm, 2009-2011
Thought Reading No.2,
Photography, 110x140cm 2009-2011
350 B.C., Fu Wenjun,
Digital Pictorial Photography,
Food Is the God of People, Fu Wenjun, Digital Pictorial
Photography, 140x175cm, 2014-2015
Among the Clouds, Fu Wenjun, Digital Pictorial Photography,
Digital Pictorial Photography, 100x100cm
Digital Pictorial Photography,
Digital Pictorial Photography,
2019, “Digital Brush: The Photographic
Process of Fu Wenjun”, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China;
2018, “Is It Photography – Fu Wenjun
Digital Pictorial Photography Solo Exhibition”,
Dairy Arts Center, Boulder, USA;
2017, “Introspection of Soul. Artistic
Expression in the Digital Pictorial Photography of Wenjun Fu”, Museu Europeu de
Arte Moderno, Barcelona, Spain;
2017, “Harmony in Diversity — Fu
Wenjun’s Digital Painting Photography Exhibition”, National Art Museum of China,
Triennale di Arti Visive a Roma, Complesso del Vittoriano, Rome, Italy;
2017, London Art Biennale, Chelsea Old
Town Hall, London, UK;
2015, “Thoughtful Images — Fu Wenjun’s
Abstract Photography Exhibition”, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China;
2015, XVIII Bienal
de Cerveira, Forum Cultural, Vila Nova de Cerveira, Portugal;
2015, Nord Art 2015, Kunstwerk
Carlshütte, Büdelsdorf, Germany;
2013, Voice of the Unseen Chinese
Independent Art 1979/Today, collateral exhibition of Venice Art Biennale 2013, Arsenale,
2012, International Excellent Art Prize, World
Chinese Arts General Meeting, China;
2014, First Prize of Digital Art of the 2nd
International Biennial of Contemporary Art in Argentina, International Biennial
of Contemporary Art in Argentina, Argentina;
2015, International Award
“Lorenzo il Magnifico” of X Florence Biennale, Florence Biennale, Italy;
contemporary artist Fu Wenjun proposed digital pictorial photography in the
early 21st century. 
Digital pictorial photography is a combination of painting elements through
digital post-adjustment and multiple-exposure photographic images to reveal
unique visual effects. It emphasizes the rediscovering and reuse of image
Fu Wenjun, Digital Pictorial Photography, 100x100cm, 2017-2018
How does Fu Wenjun create his works?
Fu Wenjun once
summed up his creative means as such: “My concept will be expressed by means of
collage, juxtaposition, etc.” 
Collage is to integrate elements which are not related to each other, thus
having an effect of challenging people’s stylized cognition. Juxtaposition is the act or an instance of placing two or
more things side by side, often to compare or to create an interesting effect. Collage
and juxtaposition are important methods in western modern and contemporary art.
They were initiated by the masters of early 20th century modern art such as
Pablo Picasso and Gorge Braque, culminating in the hands of postmodern artists such
as Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol. However, the difference is that the
post-modern juxtaposition of Western art largely cancels oppositions, while Fu
Wenjun sharpens the opposition between different items, thus creating a tension
on the two-dimensional surface.
Ospresy, Fu Wenjun, Digital Pictorial Photography, 100x100cm,
Where does the artist’s
intellectual resources come from?
creative thinking reflects the combination of the East and the West. In Fu
Wenjun’s artworks, some characteristics of Chinese traditional art are very
prominent, such as the conflict between cavalier perspective and focus
perspective, the interpenetration of ink smudges and colors, and the organic
combination of vividness and subjective expression. While getting rid of the
shackles of documentary photography, Fu’s digital pictorial photography
captures Chinese ink painting elements, embodying a touch of freehand brushwork.
Fu often likes to reflect on Chinese tradition, history and religion in his
works, such as Twelve Zodiac, A Wind From Yesterday,
Ask Tea, East Wind Blew Again Last Night, etc. 
This is a way of bringing history back to the present on one hand, and
emphasizing the impact of modern lifestyle on Chinese tradition on the other
Fu Wenjun integrates
the essence of modern and contemporary art such as Dadaism, Abstract
Expressionism, conceptual art and pop art. His digital pictorial photography
shows a modernist sense of homogeneous space with postmodernist collage
techniques. The so-called “homogeneous space” refers to the fact that since
Edward Manet, modernist paintings have deconstructed the three-dimensional
surface, abandoned the story-telling genre and revealed a two-dimensional
effect, which finally culminated in Jackson Pollock’s all-over paintings. 
According to many art historians, modernism have been moving toward
abstraction, but this is not a deliberately designed route. Such trend has
exerted a strong influence on later artworks.
Waiting I, Fu Wenjun, Digital Pictorial Photography, 60x60cm, 2017-2018
Fu Wenjun uses a
variety of media deftly. Rosalind Krauss once pointed out that artworks after
the modernist paintings have greatly broadened the connotation of “medium”. A
medium can be something solid, or it can be a behavior itself. In other words,
artists’ medium is no longer restricted to specific things; it exists in the
field of communication with the audience.
As an artist
living in the southwestern province of China, Fu Wenjun has been trying to show
the collision between traditional national culture and contemporary culture, which
is an important theme in his works. The subtlety and the subjects reflect Fu
Wenjun’s oriental background, and his artworks show a spiritual lineage to the
Disorder, Fu Wenjun, Digital Pictorial Photography, 60x60cm, 2017-2018
How to understand Fu Wenjun’s abstraction?
To explore the
possibility of abstraction is Fu Wenjun’s another concern. It is more than a
pure formal question. The abstraction in digital pictorial photography is
similar to the “semantic abstraction” proposed by British scholar Harold Osborne, that is, “incomplete or limited
reproduction of natural appearance.” 
This technique allows the author to give full play to his personality and
imagination. The images in Fu Wenjun’s works are distilled either from the real
world or from other works of art.
Abstraction is a
method for the artist to understand the world. It does not mean being out of
touch with reality. Free from objective representation, the artist reshapes the
world for expressive purposes. In Fu Wenjun’s work, images that people take for
granted are broken up and then rearranged, allowing the audience to see the
world through the artist’s eyes and then to think differently. In these works,
both abstraction and reproduction are not purposes, but means.
research has shown that people’s understanding and appreciation of abstract
elements in artworks are deeply rooted in their basic cognitive abilities, and
abstraction is not too high to be popular.
Nature for Food No.1, Fu Wenjun, Digital Pictorial Photography, 60x60cm,
What does the artist want to tell us through his work?
Fu Wenjun is committed
to showing the interaction of different things. Based on photography, his works
explore many possibilities of artistic expression. The works of art that we
have seen today have more or less abandoned the shackles of a large amount of
substantive content in reality. The artist uses documentary materials as his
basis, and incorporate his contemplation on Chinese culture. In recent years,
works such as Ask Tea and Red Cherry have become more
experimental, which shows that his grasp of the work is getting better and
To arouse people’s
awareness of art’s critical function is Fu Wenjun’s aim. As Fu said in an
interview a few years ago: “Digital pictorial photography is an attempt to
propose some meaningful topics through the medium of photography. I hope it will
lead people to think deeper. Everyone will have his/her own understanding.
There is no definite answer.” 
Fu Wenjun believes that contemporary art is critical, and it is not a game of speculation
and recreation. The responsibility of contemporary artists is trying to reveal
and analyze problems by their sharp perception and perspectives. Fu Wenjun
takes many pictures in his travel and uses them as his raw materials. After
coming back to his studio, he will tear, split and recombine the images, while
being unaware of the restriction of time and space. In a word, he aims to make a
clear and rational critique on this complex world.
About the author:
Researcher of Zhejiang University; Assistant
Professor of Tongji University
International gallery BOCCARA ART presents
a solo booth show of Chinese artist Fu Wenjun’s Digital Pictorial Photography
works at The Photography Show organized by AIPAD (Association of International
Photography Art Dealers), April 3-7, Pier 94, New York City.
Fu Wenjun’s creative output can be summed
up by his term Digital Pictorial Photography, which he uses to redefine the
traditions found at the core of the photographic arts. By blending elements of
other artistic media into the process, he creates a brand-new form of aesthetic
pleasure. Fu Wenjun embraces a range of art forms, combining them into unique
and monumental works that reach beyond the mere act of recording a photographic
Works on view are from four series of Fu
Wenjun’s Digital Pictorial Photography: “Misplacement”, “Ask Tea”, “F1”, “Human
Nature for Food”. His work brings together the practical aspect of photography
with the aesthetic nature of other forms of visual arts. By demonstrating the
complementary relationship of photographs and other modes of artistic practice,
Fu Wenjun transforms what may seem to be an inaccessible message into a highly
approachable concept that can trigger critical thought about history and
In terms of photography art, Fu Wenjun
believes “Photography is two-dimensional. But if we fall into this definition,
our expression with photography would be limited. In my works I integrate many
personal understandings of Chinese traditional art… Some people say my works
“do not look like photography”, but the “unlike photography” on the contrary is
a new way of presentation. We could change anything and make changes beyond the
ARTNET in its report “Discover 6
Must-See Booths at AIPAD’s Photography Show” features “the multimedia
work of Chinese contemporary artist Fu Wenjun encompasses installation art,
photography, and oil painting. For AIPAD, international gallery Boccara Art
highlights works from the artist’s ‘digital pictorial photography’ series,
which—in boldly colored displays—abstractly evoke natural landscapes.”
Professors from School of Visual Arts
guided their master students to the booth and talked with the artist about his
art creation and ideas.
RTVI, New York-based television network
hosted a live report at the booth, having interviewed the gallery owner and
introduced Fu Wenjun’s Digital Pictorial Photography works to its audience.
Fu Wenjun Digital Pictorial Photography BY ART511 STAFF
Chinese artist Fu Wenjun premiers new work in a solo booth at this year’s Photography Show at Pier 94. In its 39th edition and the longest running institution of its kind, The Photography Show presented by AIPAD (Association of International Photography Art Dealers) showcases work by lead contemporary artists represented by U.S., European, Asian, Canadian, Mexican, Middle Eastern and South American galleries, in addition to book dealers and publishers. Boasting “exceptional photography from the world’s top fine art photography galleries,” the coinciding AIPAD Talks invite prominent curators, artists, collectors, and writers into roundtable discussion around the medium’s latest trends, processes and critical thought. Contemporary, modern and 19th-century photography is exhibited alongside photo-based art, video, fashion photography and new media.
Born in 1955, Chinese contemporary artist Fu Wenjun is principally a photographer, but also works in the realms of installation, sculpture and oil painting. With a lengthy museum exhibition history, Wenjun has been honored with numerous awards, including “The Best Artist in the World” at Tour Eiffel La Grande Exposition Universelle. The artist returns to New York City this April currently framing his practice and the work presented at The Photography Show around his concept “Digital Pictorial Photography.” Wenjun’s work naturally evades any singular label. Having graduated from the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, his abstracted photographs integrate the artist’s personal understanding of Chinese traditional art. “There was a period that I was keen on the shooting skills to produce ‘good’ documentary photography,” says Fu. Said skills are the current basis for his work pushing the limits of 2-dimensionality. Many of his image compositions among the recent series surely elude the definition of photography entirely.
As the AIPAD Talks are keen to acknowledge, the genre is rapidly changing, with miracles of technology, image manipulation, staged and performance photography, materiality, process, and playing with “chance” all having earned recognition as acceptable modern approaches. In Stephen Shore’s scheduled artist talk with critic Lynne Tillman, the pair inquires “Is there pressure to communicate in ways less mediated by convention and genre?” God knows artists need mediums like bats need the sun, but art writing uses words, and words drive the brain. Fu Wenjun maintains that the fact that his photos don’t look like photos is an intentional form of presentation in and of itself. He intends to keep pushing the medium with increasingly diverse forms of presentation. Wenjun provokes us to move beyond common sense, and moreover, to place photography in dialogue with more traditional mediums like Chinese painting, oil painting and sculpture. Through this lens, insists Wenjun, we can expand the boundary of contemporary photography and perhaps, our own vacillating but virtually pinhole perspective on reality.
Several in his Digital Pictorial Photography series will be on view at Pier 94 this year. Some pieces depict abstracted objects of quotidian daily life — what appears to be a calculator or tea kettle — other objects are nestled into themselves, their total forms gracefully obscured. Ever at play with the formalities of painting, and even fine art — the artist excels in segmenting out his images into virtual diptychs or triptychs, or for instance, isolating figures as discrete objects on pedestals that are themselves equally alive with swirls and strokes. “Human Nature for Food,” interrogates our relationship to what is most delicious in life. Wenjun goes as far as to say the piece is about juxtaposing the beauty and ugliness inherent to the human experience, that which is of course found inside and out.
Human Nature for Food No.1
His digital medium leaves few barriers to behold, as if combing through the psyche with a fine-tooth instrument, exposing human nature, leisure activities and spectacle culture in all its banal fascination. His painting “F1” invokes Formula 1? raceway fury, a peak cultural moment the artist explains is both “real and illusory,” bloated with expectation and at the same time, in defiance of it. Some photos arrive fast with bold, almost painterly strokes; others fade out into ethereal mist, where pixelation invokes pointillism. Some envelope themselves in so much white space our conditioned mind is eclipsed by the artist’s rhythmic politics of dislocation and assimilation. Grid lines, frames and screens further dissect the canvas – playing upon the viewer’s retina with their graphic intentionality. With a reckless eye for the new, Wenjun excels equally into abstract chaos and vignette – eruptions, splatters, gore, household decor, a freeze frame of that edge-of-your-seat sporting event all fit into neat compositions marked by the artist’s linear framing devices. Wenjun’s “Ask Tea,” inspired by the color and geometry of Impressionism and Abstraction, reminisces on an old-style teahouse still existing near the artist’s hometown. “The world is changing so fast,” says Wenjun, and although his pieces are curiously outside the bounds of photography, he still sees it the most fit medium to capture our rapidly evolving world.
Ask Tea No.2
With the traditional canon opening unto progressive polycentrism and the tyrannical fiction of white western superiority eroding, questions of representation in the arts aggress open fire on the status quo. Although Wenjun’s photos are abstracted, and naturally almost void of any singular subjectivity, his cultural vantage point as a Chinese man certainly adds layers to his cacophonous aesthetics of discord. As the artist relates, his work is influenced by legacies of the East and West, the effects of globalization and both the urbanization and industrialization of Chinese cities. A seasoned traveler and exemplary global citizen, his works achieve a sort of non-place and non-space that speaks volumes about our shifting relationship to nation, identity and economy.
Under the surface of his obscured still lives and residues of the abject, Fu’s photography blithely teems with Asian influences. His penchant for dividing or grid-lining the canvas in certain instances may be less a play on the formalities of fine art, than a reflection of traditional Chinese painting. Often presented on long hanging scrolls or series of scrolls or segmented into lacquered panels, eye candy of many a folding screen, wall, archival paper and premium silk, Chinese painting is highly distinguishable from the western tradition of Fine Art. Chinese painting, guóhuà (國畫), is one of the oldest continuous artistic traditions in the world. Holding the meanings “national” or “native painting,” this brush and ink painting style is closer to calligraphy than the western style of painting popularized in China during the 20th century. It is a tradition passed down from master to apprentice. Landscapes have always been considered the highest form of Chinese painting, and generally still are.
Likewise, Wenjun’s “Misplacement,” alive with vibrant carmine and pale gold, seamlessly translates the aesthetics of classical Chinese ink mastery into contemporary photography. The photograph’s abstract glee, almost verging on pixelation or glitch, invites temporal musings. The where, when, what and how of it all tugs at our sense of nostalgia for times past, our future fears melting away as the painterly photos perform their ablutions. Like a noble sage, Wenjun’s artworks steadily steer us back into the present moment at hand.
Fu Wenjun is a must-see artist at this year’s AIPAD because his “Digital Pictorial Photography” redefines the traditions found at both the core of the photographic and traditional arts, obliterating the divide between East and West in principle, process and practice. Through his new technique, whatever philosophical content at risk of becoming inaccessible within its elite milieu of Fine Art becomes “transformed into a highly approachable concept that can trigger critical thought about history and humanity,” explains Wenjun. Leeching aesthetic pleasure from principle particles past and future, these works orbit the galaxy of complementarity and box in the matrix, expanding our relationship to art, history and humanity.
Checkout Fu Wenjun’s solo exhibition presented by BOCCARA ART gallery at AIPAD The Photography Show April 4 – 7, 2019 Opening Preview: April 3, 2019 Pier 94 | New York City AIPAD (Association of International Photography Art Dealers) www.aipadshow.com Fu Wenjun Studio: www.fuwenjun.com
Fu Wenjun feature on BIANCOSCURO Issue Art Basel Hong Kong March 2019
BIANCOSCURO at Art Basel Hong Kong
FUWENJUN, NEW HORIZONS FOR CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY
“Fu Wenjun embraces a range of art forms, combining them in unique and monumentalworks that go beyond the simple act of recording a photographic image.”
Continues in its ascent towards the consecrationin the world of art that counts, undaunted unveils, day after day, new goals of his personal stylistic and conceptual research. Telling Fu Wenjun has never been simple, his works are always simple, clearly and aesthetically perfect, calibrated and harmonious, and precisely this mathematical perfection deceives emotional and investigative perception. The technique he created and used we already know Digital Pictorial Photography, but we cannot stop at technicality, we must investigate thoroughly to understand first what led Wenjun to develop his personal style. Why did he feel the need to merge the different disciplines? It is not only a matter of artistic research, Fu Wenjun has had a strong influence from the tradition of his culture, despite his propensity for “rebellion” that cannot get away from his intimate.
And here we understand how his very being is tobe “mixed”: Chinese artistic tradition, painting and signs of his land, viscerally united to the most advanced photographic technique. Wenjun’s works respond to those who wonder if there is still an artistic value in photography, now banally usable by anyone. His creations, with a digital base, are unique and inimitable, in the style of the starting shot, in the pictorial signs, in the light they have collected and released to the surrounding environment. The indisputable elegance, fascinates and involves, taking us, even for a moment, in his personal world.
Fu Wenjun Digital Pictorial Photography 2017-2018
Sit and Watch the Clouds Rise
Fu Wenjun Digital Pictorial Photography 2017-2018
BIANCOSCURO RIVISTA D’ARTE
ISSUE ART BASEL HONG KONG MARCH 2019
Nuovi orizzonti per la fotografia contemporanea
“Fu Wenjun abbraccia una gamma di forme d’arte, combinandole in opere uniche e monumentali che vanno oltre il semplice atto di registrare un’immagine fotografica.”
Continua nella sua ascesa verso la consacrazione nel panorama mondiale dell’Arte che conta, imperterrito svela, giorno dopo giorno, nuovi traguardi della sua personale ricerca stilistica e concettuale. Raccontare Fu Wenjun non è mai stato semplice, le sue opere sono sempre, semplicemente, esteticamente perfete, calibrate e armoniche, e proprio questa perfezione matematica inganna la percezione emozionale ed indagatoria. La tecnica da lui create ed utilizzata la conosciamo già Digital Pictorial Photography, ma non possiamo fermarci al tecnicismo, dobbiamo indagare a fondo per comprendere prima cosa ha portato Wenjun a mettere apunto la sua personale cifra stilistca. Perchè ha sentito il bisogno di amalgamare le diverse discipline? Non è solo una questione di ricerca artistica, Fu Wenjun ha avuto una forte influenza dalla tradizione della sua culture, nonstante la sua propensione alla “ribellione” non può allontanarsi dal suo intimo.
Ed ecco che comprendiamo quanto sia il suo stesso essere ad essere “mescolato”：tradizione artistica cinese, pittura e segni della sua terra, visceralmente uniti alla più avanzata tecnica fotografica. Le opere di Wenjun rispondono a chi si chiede se esista ancora un valore artistico nella fotografia, ormai banalmente fruibile da chiunque. Le sue creazioni, con una base digitale, sono uniche ed inimitabili, nello stile dello scatto di partenza, nel segno pittorico, nella luce hanno raccolto e che rilasciano all’ambiente circostante. L’eleganza indiscutibile, affascina e coinvolge, portandoci, anche solo per un attimo, nel suo personale mondo.
By Timothy Warrington — — International Confederation of Art Critics
From a layman’s perspective, photography is all too often seen as a tool with the sole purpose of documentation and, unfortunately, its extreme and sophisticated creative potential can occasionally be overlooked or even forgotten; Fu Wenjun is an artist actively concerned with creative attitudes and stereotypes who wishes to elevate photography through a process of thought and execution. In fact, his dynamic artworks explore, challenge and define the boundaries of digital art, photography and self-expression via a conceptual journey that is at the heart of his artistic process. In his most recent collection he has developed an intriguing and unique style that he has named ‘Digital Pictorial Photography’. These artworks adapt and distort the viewer’s perception, creating intense intrigue and inviting the passive observer to ponder the subconscious messages that are intrinsically contained within each piece whilst, simultaneously, conveying a treasured personal sense of the artist’s inner self.
Wenjun’s ‘Digital Pictorial Photography’ conceptions are alive with movement, intense character and comprehensive personality. The complex structural elements they possess lead the spectator’s eye deep into each enthralling detail while the fluidity of the forms and shapes often mask the image of a hand, face or even animal disguised within the artwork. These hidden intricate facets combine to assemble an arrestingly compounded formation in thoroughly captivating pieces that encourage the viewer to investigate and carefully analyse each aspect. This contemporary artist flawlessly employs his process, which incorporates multiple exposures and culminates in an intensely rich, layered opuses that conjure images of Man Ray’s rayographs produced without a camera when considering their shared experimental approach to the delicate relationship between light, balance and aesthetics. Wenjun’s creations are often defined as rebellions and its purely informational attitude towards photography. His stunning compositions are thought provoking and require substantially more from the viewer than simple observation of their beauty as profound dimensions of the mind are ceaselessly stimulated by Wenjun’s work.
In Wenjun’s collections ‘Digital Pictorial Photography 1, 2 and 3’, he uses extensive imagery of traditional sculpture, predominantly originating from the Western hemisphere, which suggests an inspiration or reaction to artists such as Michelangelo and Donatello, or indeed to the entire Renaissance period. Wenjun’s conceptual photography inspires deep reflection in regards to the relationships that exist between different cultures in the modern age of globalisation; he seamlessly juxtaposes ancient artforms with contemporary styles proving he possesses the undeniable capacity to move the viewer to contemplate specific issues whilst successfully bringing together a cohesion of old and new artistic techniques enriched and connected by his fresh perspective. Wenjun masterfully utilises his artform as a fluent language through which to communicate his passionate commentary on urbanisation on modern life.
Wenjun’s digital photography stems from diverse influences, including a fundamental understanding of classical European art, as is exemplified in ‘The Showy World’ from his Photographic Narrative collection. The statues presented in this piece have been expertly manipulated in negative and are surrounded by strong, eye catching colours and exuberant, expressive forms. Wenjun’s art is awash with vibrant energy; he frequently uses striking red hues and harsh black tones which, combined with a distinct sense of movement, provide inextricable links to traditional Chinese art such as that of Zhang Daqian. Wenjun visually contorts themes and motifs in order to emblematically express the narrative of the profound effect that rapid societal change has on Chinese towns. His message is further solidified by means of an integrated web of academically utilised symbolism that connects the viewer to the eloquent sense of the artist’s honest and full self expression captured in each artwork.
Whilst Wenjun’s style is incredibly unique, upon close analysis it is possible to draw comparisons with the photography of Barbara Kasten and Maya Rochat by analysing at their vivid use of colour and bold forms. Kasten shares the use of three dimensional objects and statues that are artistically altered through the lens of the camera to conceive a distinct conceptual creation with new perspective and purpose. A further influence of expressionism can also be detected in Wenjun’s individual approach to form and shape; he and Lee Krasner share deep philosophical ideals that are powerfully demonstrated through their daring yet elegant interpretation of line and shape.
There is a rare aura of freedom radiating from Wenjun’s photography who, through his artistic processes, achieves a wonderful symbiosis of beauty and provocative message rendering his works a true delight both to observe and to contemplate. Wenjun’s creativity reflects the sheer magnitude of his affinity to his medium, he demonstrates an impeccable ease in expressing challenging thoughts and concerns through his camera and via his skilled photographic manipulation. His remarkable innovation consistently catalyses a relentless search to develop new artistic methods through which to articulate his fervently heartfelt and sincere thoughts that unite to establish his philosophies in regard to a ceaselessly expanding world.
Artista contemporaneo cinese, figlio degli anni cinquanta, Fu Wenjun si è ormai affermato nel mondo per le sue particolari opere fotografiche, immagini multiple e moltiplicate dalle prospettive multidimensionali.
La sua passione per l’arte non l’ha fatto femare al mezzo fotografico, ma l’ha spinto a cercare altri mezzi per esprimersi, dalla classica pittura ad olio, alle grandi installazioni contemporanee.
Il tema di fondo delle opere di Wenjun è sicuramente da ricercare nella storia nella cultura orientale, di come cambia rapidamente la società e di come interagisce con le culture occidentali. Come interagisce l’antica tradizione orientale con la globalizzazione occidentale? Come riesce a trovare connessioni che non intacchino il patrimonio tipico, ma che al contempo non facciano rimanere indietro l’evoluzione?
Lui esprime il suo parere attraverso le sue opere, cromie forti e prospettive fuorvianti riescono a trasmettere l’inquietudine del nostro tempo.
Ecco che troviamo dunque in Fu Wenjun, se non le risposte definitive, almeno un appriccio serio e ragionato sul tema, l’arte come mezzo per definire la società del momento, l’arte per ricordare la società del passato.
Fu Wenjun’s concept of digital pictorial photography takes us into rhythmic, flowing, dancing and bright elements of fine art, which creates aesthetic pleasure while viewing his art pieces. Contemporary artist Fu Wenjun creates most of his artworks through the art media of conceptual photography, installation, sculpture and oil painting, and has put forward the concept of “digital pictorial photography”. He gives a new direction to the world of digital art. He does not majorly regard photography as a regular photography medium. According to him it has a close relationship with fine art. The role of aesthetics, knowledge of form, elements, as well their placement, along with his knowledge and study of art history of almost all time periods, be it European, Chinese, or American art, all together have embarked his journey leading towards a successful artistic career.
The artist shows his concept of Digital Pictorial Photography in the way he presents his photographs, for example: in one of his series, they look like the Chinese ink paintings or even bright paints on canvas, which is very soothing. That is due to the way he photographs his elements. His artistic collection of photography looks like a fusion of macro shots with some shots from a distance, as if they have been combined together to create an effective composition. All this somewhere connects to his fine art education and learnings, as if it has been inculcated into his artworks. It looks like a natural scene where nothing is static; a movement can be felt as if the images are still moving while on display. The beautiful digital art pieces create the illusion of flowing ink in water, which is like a natural rhythm.
Since the photographs have not been represented directly from the camera, Fu Wenjun goes through a deep thought process where the question comes: What to represent? and How would the elements and visuals impact the work, first for the artist and then ultimately for the audience. So here at this point he puts in a lot of efforts to decide what subject he wishes to focus on and what is the purpose behind each creation of his digital art pieces. Accordingly, Fu Wenjun uses the images which he collects from traveling or from any other of his photography. This is the time when he plays with the theme, form and content. It is impressive to see Fu Wenjun’s usage of computer software for his photographs. The most interesting part here is that the art pieces still look natural, it is because of the artistic usage of the combination of different elements like line, color, tones and space division, which he combines in an aesthetically appealing way.
Fu Wenjun pays great attention to the whole process with perfection right from the point of the creation of the idea until its execution which is perfectly mounted and framed. Each and every step is set to a high standard. He possesses a great knowledge of execution and presentation of fine art in a pleasing way, while with no doubt he can be called a perfectionist. “My photographic works are possibly not like photographs. I call it Digital Pictorial Photography works, because I aim at exploring to place photography art in dialogue with other art media, like Chinese painting, oil painting, print, sculpture etc. As a result I widen the boundary of photography art in the current digital age,” says Fu Wenjun in describing his art. He also talks about the crucial process where he creates a planned and thoughtful idea to be executed, “I found photography as art has much to be explored, to be connected with different art media in various ways. I have had a large number of photos taken in my traveling or even daily life. They are raw materials collected and at my hand to use for my experimentation. What I do is to think over and over again how to express all this in my works, and to select elements that could contribute to the overall presentation.”
Fu Wenjun also talks about his inspiration of art from the Chinese artists Bada Shanren and Shi Tao. “I like very much Bada Shanren, Shi Tao who provide me deep understanding of ink painting and Chinese traditional art.” As we discuss further about oil painting, Fu Wenjun’s says that most of the inspiration comes from the time period of Monet and Pissarro. His understanding of art has not just been restricted to the 19th century art movement. “Among the Western artists, I love the impressionists, like Monet, Pissarro, who make me look closely at the oil painting history as well as the art history before and after them.”
He has gained numerous art awards. His artworks have been collected by eminent art collectors and organizations like Museu Europeu de Arte Moderno, National Art Museum of China, Today Art Museum, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Kennedy Family, World Council of Peoples for the United Nations, Dazu Grotto Museum, Chongqing Art Museum and Guangdong Museum of Art to name a few. He has been actively participating in numerous solo and collective exhibitions in many countries around the world among which are China, USA, UK, Korea, Italy, Germany and Russia. It is Fu Wenjun’s consistent efforts which naturally attract the audiences, art collectors and organizations around the world which have a lot of excitement to see something new, as each time he creates new concepts and executes them quite artistically.
2018年傅文俊创作的数绘摄影作品更加巧妙地在摄影媒介中对多种艺术形式加以融合，在三度空间层面探讨摄影，从多个向面分割空间、与时刻变化的真实光影游戏。今年美国戴尔瑞艺术中心推出他的个人展览《这是摄影吗？——傅文俊数绘摄影展》，将艺术家的数绘摄影及他对历史、文化、人文议题的种种思考带去了更远的国度。此外他还受邀参加万国双年展、基安恰诺国际艺术双年展、萨莱诺当代艺术双年展等多个国际艺术双年展；今年创作的数绘摄影作品在2018棕榈滩国际艺术博览会、艺术纽约、影像上海艺术博览会、香港典亚艺博、艺术迈阿密等国际重要艺博会上受到世界各地藏家的青睐。11月傅文俊还荣获被称为“视觉艺术奥斯卡”的“全球艺术奖”之“数字艺术”类别桂冠，得到阿联酋皇室成员、阿拉伯联合酋长国总统的之兄、阿布扎比酋长国艾因城市执政者之子H.H. SHEIKH SAEED BIN TAHNOUN BIN MOHAMMED AL NAHYAN的亲自颁奖。为即将来临的2019年，艺术家傅文俊已经忙碌起来，新年伊始他的个人展览《再次进场——傅文俊数绘摄影作品展》即将于1月16日-1月27日在重庆美术馆1号展厅举行，上百件数绘摄影作品将展示出傅文俊独创的摄影艺术流派其特有的学术价值和美学风貌。
Fu Wenjun, Chinese contemporary artist, was graduated from Sichuan Fine Arts Institute. He creates principally through the art media of conceptual photography, installation, sculpture and oil painting, and has put forward the concept of “Digital Pictorial Photography”.
Fu Wenjun’s works embody his thinking and reflection on many issues related to the Eastern and Western history, culture and humanity, including the relationship between different cultures in the age of globalization, the heritage of traditional Chinese culture in a rapidly changing society, industrialization and urbanization in Chinese cities.
He has presented solo exhibitions at the Museu Europeu de Arte Moderno (Barcelona), the National Art Museum of China (Beijing), the Old Summer Palace (Beijing), at the Today Art Museum (Beijing), at theUnited Nations Headquarters (New York), at the Guangdong Museum of Art (Guangzhou) and at other international art organizations. His works are exhibited at significant international exhibitions, such as the Triennale dell'Arte Contemporanea, the 1st Asia Biennial / 5th Guangzhou Triennial, the XVIII Bienal de Cerveira, NordArt, the collateral exhibition of Biennale di Venezia 2013, entitled Voice of the Unseen Chinese Independent Art 1979 / Today.
Hello Fu Wenjun. Congrats to being selected as an interview artist. Could you please talk about your art background? You already selected many collection and opened many solo shows in all around. Do you work with your team?
Hello, first of all thanks for your appreciation on my art, and I am honoured to be interviewed.
I have worked on photography art for more than 30 years, and in recent years I put forward the art style Digital Pictorial Photography, a new art language and art school. Now with the focus on Digital Pictorial Photography, my art creation does cross over several disciplines, including oil painting, sculpture, installation and others.
I believe art creation is absolutely subjective, some impromptu things happen always. I work by myself, without a team. I don’t like that commercial art products seemingly produced by a factory. Each piece of artwork should be unique.
Which kind of creative inspiration does your art effected by? How do you convey messages with art?
I think almost everyone is curious about the question where the artist inspiration come from. But it’s really hard to answer. Not because I pretend to make it like secrets, just the artist sometimes does not know what inspires him to do like this, instead of like that. When the inspiration run into me, I could even don’t know. I just unconsciously follow the direction I believe could be right.
To me inspiration is a contingency in art creation. Compared with it, the knowledge of human society, history, culture, science and many other aspects, as well as artist’s attention and thinking on current social situation, development trends, problems are facing etc., would provide richer resources for his art creation.
Digital Pictorial Photography, a contemporary fine art photography style I create, integrates the pictorial features into photography art, and places dialogues with painting, sculpture, installation and other art forms, with my intention to extend the boundary of photography art. What’s more important, Digital Pictorial Photography is a photography art style developed from the base of Conceptual Art, so its focus is to deliver my concepts/messages of my thought and reflection about global or regional issues related to history, culture, human life, art, nature and so on. I always believe, a good artwork should be beautiful, but more important why should the artwork be there is that it could inspire people to think, possibly to the things people often get used to, but to think from another ignored point of view.
What are you currently working on?
From 12 October to 25 November Dairy Arts Center in the USA presents my solo exhibition, titled “Is It Photography?” It is true that when the visitors see my artworks, they can’t help to ask me the question, “Your photographs do not look like photography indeed. Is it photography?” Their reaction is not surprising. People have conceived of a set of standard on photography, which is deeply rooted in their mind and they make a judgement unconsciously when there is a photograph in front of them. However, I don’t think this is the unique way of photography. Photography art should have various ways of presentation. I have explored a lot on extending the boundary of photography art, to find much more fascinating possibility of photography art. At the same time, let people see these “new” photography art. What I am currently working on is having deeper thinking and doing further exploration of my Digital Pictorial Photography art.
Would you talking about your upcoming projects? What issues do you plan to produce?
In fact I have mentioned this above. At this moment my creation focus is Digital Pictorial Photography. Apart from its currently existing various ways of presentation, I am working on how to achieve more possibility which could touch deeper level of photography art, and the charm of this medium among the contemporary art. At the same time, I want my works to be more expressive on delivering my concepts and reflection towards various issues on the basis of a good integration with the style Digital Pictorial Photography, so as to have a breakthrough.
Could you please share your messages to global art market in your approach for artists who is new in the global art market?
Compared with regional art market, global art market would be wider and more complex. Someone said, do art is do business. I think it’s partly right. But artist is not businessman. Artworks do have the value as a commodity, but its artistic value is the value that other commodity don’t have. Therefore, I think being an artist, either emerging or established what he/she should insist on most and always is to treat art seriously, to do best on art, to persist on working hard, and to believe in art forever. The art exploration and creation will never stop.
1. Using the dice to explain the gamble of civilization
In the series Game the dice is the main figure, and in its background there’s the map of each country created by using water. The dice as the main figure is the reflection of a developing process, which follows the evolution of my cogitation over the past and the current issues. The dice in reality is used both for entertainment and for gambling; in regard to the world, I think there’s exactly the same kind of relation, that is, an orderly gamble.
The figure of the dice appeared for the first time in my oil painting work Pick at random n.18, in this work the core of my consideration is the contrast between eastern and western art (one is realistic painting, the other one is spontaneous brushwork). The same consideration is expressed, but without the figure of the dice, in the work Lose an opportunity close at hand (in this work, I make the Chinese thousand-handed Avalokitesvara meet the Western statue of Venus de Milo, with a jeering meaning).
In the work Pick at random you can see western-style porcelain, but you can also note the contrast between the ink painting sketches and the realistic western figures. Porcelain originally comes from China, which name is namely the word “china” starting in capital letter; but in modern times the West has also begun to manufacture porcelain, so the porcelain made in the West has a west-style design, as just to display the assimilation of local visual art. As art history tells itself, western modern art has started approaching Chinese aesthetics, merging freehand brushwork into expressionism, while China has recently started approaching western realistic painting, therefore both are examples of visual assimilation. The coexistence of free sketches and realistic images creates an unusual perception: according to a proper visual experience, there should be incompatibility, but jumping out from the bigoted cultural antagonism and speaking of cultural dynamic reciprocity, there is no contrast at all. Cultures are all related to each other, what is called contrast or conflict is just made to happen by cultural inertia, and it is the collective cognition behind which has led to perceive this sense of disharmony.
However, the advantage of technological progress is that the difference in time and space is shrinking. Compared to the past, nowadays the relation is very tight, the cultural blends are more and more frequent, for this reason the strive is intense, too. From culture to civilization, there’s no place with no gambling.
2. Game, that is, order
The dice communicates directly the implication of the cultural gamble. In my previous work Goldbach’s Conjecture, the dice is in the skull, but in Game the dice is an independent figure, it is the subject. Since the dice is a utensil for playing or gambling, it also suggests rules. In what is called game, under mutual agreement, both sides adhere to the same rules and establish basic mutual trust. In this orderly fight your own profit is maximum, in this sense, only having confidence in the basic gamble we can consider it as a game; if there’s no mutual trust but misunderstanding, the risen suspicion then will evoke “war”. From the perspective of the cultural development process, the world is oriented toward peace and wants to establish more orderly relations.
The cultural development is namely the mix between cultures, and the mix between cultures (gamble) is never static. The culture itself is a flow in the open air and a change along the time. In the book The diamond sutra it is said: “Tathagata has no origin, neither destination, because he is Tathagata.” The past, the present and the future are not absolute, in other words, the world is to be seen from a changeable viewpoint. Changeable things all have origin, a fixed “1”, Laozi said: “The Dao originates 1, 1 originates 2, 2 originates 3, 3 originates the universe”, so I use the dice to express the "1”, which represents the origin of the gamble. Meanwhile, what is meant by “2”, is just the two opposite sides of the gamble, it is exactly the profit that has originated the opposition, and has achieved both sides. But the gamble cannot only take “2” into consideration, if so the world would fall into a definite struggle. It has to speak of “3”, which means "many” and is complex: when things get at 3 they then become real. If looking from the viewpoint of the gamble, “1” can be compared to “fusion”, “2” to “division”, and “3” is between “fusion” and “division”. If “1” is static, “2” is dynamic, 3 is the reality in which the universe exists, in other words it is the coexistence of the static and the movement, the static lies in the space, and the movement produces time repeatedly.
The culture is exactly the product of the time and the space. In classical times, because of the technological backwardness and the isolation of the region, the culture has developed in an independent space, and its timeliness was continuous but firm. But today, with such a technological development, the influence toward time and space is huge, cultural intrinsic continuity has been interrupted; it is rather in a condition of blend. The ram between each culture is mutually beneficial, cultural gamble has no gains or loss, indulging in a moment of power is meaningless. In any case all cultures are moving forward, the more they gamble on the civilization, the more cultural rules will prosper; furthermore, nowadays no civilization can have an independent development.
3. The cultural game: continuous gamble and eternal order
Gamble can be static and dynamic, cooperative and non-cooperative, complete or not complete, and it also can be short or perpetual. Only if will culture continue to exist, gamble then will exist as well, and long-lasting gamble will take to a long-lasting order: what is called culture is nothing but a long-lasting orderly outcome. The cultural gamble is just an endless gamble, and we must then go back to the origin of the gamble in order to look at it: the gamble is the seek for a route, a scheme to master the behavior of the other side, the seek is then a way to increase your own profit. But since both sides attempt to manage the other side, the gamble is something reciprocal, and the culture is the evolution within a mutual gamble. The core of the Darwin’s theory of evolution is “the law of natural selection and the survival of the fittest”, that is the “2;” but there are more and more cases of organism evolution that indicate that the function of “cooperation” in the gamble of evolution cannot be underestimated. It seems that in gambling only “I" is taken into consideration, this clears up the rules, while the real gamble within culture lies exactly in establishing more connections. Using more rules to communicate with the other side, makes the consequences of the cooperation/conflict measurable; this world is just constructing a common platform for the “game”.
With the work The Old Summer Palace I’ve started pondering over the modern development in China. Recently China has been forcedly drawn into the process of global unification, and its national borders to be open. Looking around now, it seems as this is a humiliating past record, but I think it was also necessary, this era is just a period in which the logic of global unification is the leading process. The industrial revolution was the beginning: from The Opium War to The fall of the Berlin Wall, from an opposite to a common development, culture is establishing more extensive “connections.” The present world is a playground, the conflict may dominate, or war may terminate. After 2001, China joined the World Trade Organization; this is a symbol of the China’ dynamic participation into the global routine. The Old Summer Palace and Story of the Expo Park are two nodes of the connection between China and the world; they are mutually making up their cultural relation: from “isolation” to the “free exchange-market,” China definitely has joined the global game.