I have always been fascinated about the idea of Qi– the subtle energy that permeates everything in life and links all its elements together. This idea constantly makes me curious about how human beings and the material world are universally related and bonded to each other. – Shen Wei
Flowers Gallery is pleased to announce Shen Wei’s first solo exhibition at Flowers Gallery, New York. Shen Wei is known for his intimately revealing photographic portraits, in which the themes of identity, memory, sexuality and self-discovery are explored through the landscapes of his homeland, and the nude figure.
Invisible Atlas is inspired by the Chinese philosophy of Qi - an unseen life force and a method of healing. For Shen Wei, this mysterious vital energy is poetic and seductive. Using his own body and personality as a subject, he envisions the internal and external forces channeling through the body and its surroundings. Drawing from memories of his childhood, as well as religious, historical and mythological imagery, the narrative is interwoven with elements of fantasy. Photographic subjects of the figure, objects and landscape are combined with minimally rendered drawings, where luminous dots, circles, arcs, arrows and waves give tangible form to imagined flows and concentrations of Qi.
The concept of energy flow is deeply rooted in Chinese traditional culture, and is gaining wider interest in the contemporary western world. According to ancient philosopher Laozi, Qi embraces “all manifestations of energy, from the most material aspects of energy (such as the earth beneath your feet, the flesh and the blood) to the most immaterial aspects (light, movement, heat, thought, and emotion)”.
Invisible Atlas presents the material and immaterial as deeply intertwined. Shen Wei creates a vision of a multi-dimensional world, in his own words, “a path to our desires for beauty, secrecy and pleasure.”
To coincide with his solo exhibition, Shen Wei is also curating a group show Second Thought at Flowers Gallery, featuring work by Shiyuan Liu, Tingwei Li and Peter Glenn Oakley.
Born and raised in Shanghai, China, Shen Wei is a visual artist based in New York City. He also works in video, mixed-media drawing, and performance.
Shen Wei’s work has been exhibited internationally, with venues including the Museum of the City of New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, the North Carolina Museum of Art, and the He Xiangning Art Museum.
Shen Wei’s work is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, the Library of Congress, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Museum of Chinese in America, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Kinsey Institute.
Shen Wei is a recipient of the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Arts Residency, the Asian Cultural Council Arts & Religion Fellowship, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Arts Grant, and the Urban Artist Initiative NYC Fellowship. He holds an MFA in photography, video, and related media from the School of Visual Arts, New York; and a BFA in photography from Minneapolis College of Art and Design.