Wang Ai creates delicate paintings made with rice paper, tea and Chinese ink. Characterised by harmony and balance, his works exude ethereal feelings and reveal elegant forms.

In traditional Chinese paintings, artists did not aim to portray the outer experience of natural elements; rather they tried to capture the inner essence, breath and motion of nature. Wang Ai’s works also encapsulate the spirit of his subjects. The artist, influenced by ancient masters who rejected the use of vibrant colour - considered a distraction - in order to grasp the inner life of their subjects, also creates his pattern with a subtle colour palette.

The layered simplicity of his works and the hidden wisdom of the images reveal intriguing visual perceptions. From a distance the pieces look almost abstract. The muted and softly outlined geometric shapes evoke Rothko’s meditative art. Upon closer inspection this evanescent effect slowly fades away unexpectedly unveiling an extraordinary meticulousness of structure and variety of detail.

The artist painstakingly depicts extracts of poems and Buddhist sutras by engaging with the power of language, which stands at the core of Chinese culture. Upon careful observation, subtle and enigmatic images fused with calligraphy slowly emerge.

Wang Ai’s paintings create symbolic connections between man, the natural world and society. Methodical and attentive, his work celebrates an unspoken yet indissoluble bond between humans and nature, resulting in images of a highly refined beauty. This aesthetic level, however, is often well balanced by the presence of opposing elements - modern machinery immersed in ancient landscapes. Building up a dynamic context, Wang Ai’s art proves to contain what Austrian collector Alexandra Grimmer defines as “the necessary quantum of tension a good painting needs in order to remain memorable to the viewer over the long term.”

Dagmar Carnevale Lavezzoli

Wang Ai was born in 1971 in Huangyan, Zhejiang Province, PRC. He currently lives and works in Beijing. Wang Ai is a poet, artist and fiction writer. During his youth he learned art and poetry under the influence of his father and older brother. He began publishing poetry in the mid-to-late Eighties and in the early Nineties he worked for an animation company in Shenzhen. In 1994 he moved to Beijing and resided in the Yuanmingyuan Artists Village. During the Nineties he won poetry prizes and co-edited the independent poetry journals Biaozhun (Standards) and Shiyi (Poetic Craft). He also wrote a full-length novel Sijiao-chaotian (Four Feet Turned Skyward) and a collection of novellas entitled Sheshi-wushidu (50 Degrees Centigrade). His poetry collections include Qingrou de yuyan (Svelte Discourses), Meng de gaikuo (Encapsulation of Dreams) and long poems Kuanghuanjie (Carnival) and Hailuoyin shidai (Age of Heroin). After 2000 he wrote the poetic suite Nanfang (Southland). He has also written more than ten pieces of art criticism.