The paintbrush artist Pu Wei is a native of Kunming, Yunnan Province, China. Pu Wei developed strong passion for painting since her early childhood. Pu Wei specializes in traditional Chinese brush painting and has developed her unique style of brush painting called “Contemporary Chinese painting - Color of Surupa series,” an innovative method of expression and the spirit of Chinese brush painting techniques.
Pu Wei creatively depicted Chinese traditional culture art beauty through the vehicle of expressive brushstrokes, a new method that has greatly appealed the audience. Pu Wei paints with a strong sense of modern and cutting-edge fashion.Her paintings, thick and heavy in colors, convey the profound life meaning and vitality.
Pu Wei’s varied themes of brush paintings seek to capture the life vitality and inner spirit of the subjects she is describing. Pu Wei’s brush strokes are bold and sure, brilliantly placed in whatever themes she wants to highlight; her art works achieve in stirring up audience boundless imaginations.Pu Wei’s style is unrestrained and elegant, bringing about a feeling of strength through simplicity.
Currently, Pu Wei is working hard to explore a new way to better express the rich Chinese cultural connotation embedded in the art practice by applying the internationally recognized modern art terms.
Artist Pu Wei’s Profile of Art
The Paintbrush Artist Pu Wei, a native of Kunming, Yunnan China, is well-known as an “innovative color of Surupa painting” artist in China. Her brush paintings convey the essence of the ancient Chinese art ethics, which emphasizes “likeness in unlikeness.” Chinese artists through history tend to consider as essential that art works must express “spirit” or “rhythm” (“li’ called by ancient word meaning). The artist with the capability to express the “inner spirit” of the subjects they are painting is held in high esteem. Pu Wei’s unique contribution in brushpainting lies in her choice of aesthetic preference that is deeply grounded in the ancient Chinese major philosophies significantly including Taoism (or Daoism), thoughts of Laozi and Zhuangzi. Taoism in general tends to emphasize wu wei (effortless action), "naturalness", simplicity, spontaneity, and the Three Treasures: jing (sperm/ovary energy, or the essence of the physical body), qi ("matter-energy" or "life force."). The ideal aesthetic art realm promoted by Taoism is to bring out “inner spirit” or “vitality” of the subject artists are depicting. Another main feature of Taoism-influenced art creation is to seek both “Contentment Happy” (Zhile) and “Compassion Purified” (zhishan) through their art works.
Pu Wei pioneers the color of Surupa painting technique to create an art portal through which viewers can see the balanced beauty of merging both the ancient Chinese art forms and the Western abstract art styles. Pu Wei’s wide range of brush paintings contain the aesthetic ideals expressed by Taoism and Western abstract arts. For example, Pu Wei has explored a new approach to landscape art works---using colors and brush strokes to express the inner emotions of the painter and spirit of the subjects depicted. For the traditional Chinese artists in history, the aim of using color and shade for any art creations is to express the characteristics of the different subject matter. Pu Wei has applied this color principle very well in her landscape painting category---her varied brush strokes, creativity in applying color and shade, ink and painting materials all bring her subject matters to a higher level of aesthetic experience for the viewers. In addition, Pu Wei’s themes are uniquely vivid as well as her blending color techniques. Themes such as mountains, streams, rocks, trees, animals, etc. all are brought to life by her talent for featuring the inner spirit of these subjects. More importantly, Pu Wei has merged into her works the Western impressionist and abstract styles called “the imagery style” that reveals the illusions of visible reality world. For the western abstract artists, the skill to employ a visual language of shape, form, color is very fundamental and they believe that visual language of forms and lines can be employed to create an art composition, expressing the interdependence from visual references in the world the artists have seen or observed---this artist element is also reflected in Pu Wei’s landscape art collections.
Pu Wei has demonstrated her spontaneity in conceiving art themes and her inner positive moods which she wants to express through her color of Surupa art works. As we all know, the ancient Chinese pursued the harmony of man with nature as the ultimate state of poised living. The core of Chinese traditional culture is "Tao", which means “the source”, the inherent law guiding the natural development of the universe. Taoism emphasizes the concept of Yin and Yang, a balanced polarity of the two opposites working together to bring harmony to nature and man. Taoism promotes the oneness or unity of man and universe. For the ideal living in a society, the five elements in the ancient Chinese philosophy--water 水, fire 火, wood 木, metal 金, earth 土 are considered equally important in terms of regulating energy “qi”. Energy “qi” is essential in all walks of lives in nature. This Taoism ideology element of stressing the importance of “qi” (energy), “mind” and “spirit” has inspired Pu Wei in her art works production such as Asura, Dragon Waves, Taiji Diagram (“qi” balance of yin and yang), and Fengshui Awowana Fish---these art pieces all reflect the importance of positive “qi” (energy) regulating in the universe. The aim of Chinese Fengshui study is to regulate the five elements of air so as to achieve balanced “qi” for the ideal, prosperous living. This aspect of ideology is best expressed by Awowana Fish. Another example is revealed by Pu Wei’s masterpiece, “Taiji Diagram---” “qi” is the swirling motion suggested by the Taijitu symbol as the divine circle of life, symbolizing a constant reborn process for all elements in universe. Innovatively, Pu Wei also skillfully merges her subjective consciousness into the aesthetic experience for those transcended images she depicted in Dragon wave, Sea Heaven, The Seven Stars Place, Personal Destination, etc. These art creations can stir viewers boundless imagination of a transcended imagery of god in Sea heaven. Looking at these paintings, viewers gain a chance to appreciate the art creations as they are really experiencing the transcended beauty revealed by these painted images.
In summary, the traditional Chinese cultural ideology Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism have greatly impacted the Chinese artists aesthetic preferences. Thoughts such as promoting oneself by meditation, by being still, cultivating the heart, and nurturing the character by laborious efforts have greatly impacted numerous Chinese artists for thousands of years. Cultivating heart (Confucianism focus), Being still and poised living (Taoism focus), and Buddhism meditation all point to the same goal---staying connected to the nature, achieving a transcended mind without being stimulated by reality environment.
Pu Wei was drawing the first “Color of Surupa Taiji Diagram” in Kunming Chenggong Confucius temple, April 21, 2015.
“Color of Surupa Taiji Diagram”, collected by Kunming Chengong Confucius Institute, the well-known Yunnan Taoist temple really Qing view.
Appreciation and interpretation of Pu Wei's artworks
The importance of “mind” and “spirit” in the production of art pieces has inspired Pu Wei. Her paintings reflect how she skillfully merges her subjective consciousness into the aesthetic experience for those transcended images she conceived and depicted.
This painting category features the theme of “unity of heaven and man,” the ideal art realm she pursues. Pu Wei creates her own ideal world with spontaneity, employing her flexible brush strokes and vivid colors to bring a new soul world to her viewers. Looking at these paintings, viewers gain a chance to appreciate the art creations as they are really experiencing the transcended beauty revealed by these painted images. Pu Wei’s inner spirit and aesthetic virtues are best expressed through this category.
Color of Surupa Taiji Diagram. Pu Wei’s master art piece is called “Color of Surupa Taiji Diagram.” The Taijitu symbol consists of two (one black and one white) swirling ‘tear drop’ shapes, representing yin and yang. Taiji concept means “the supreme ultimate’ and Taijitu diagram expresses both “yin” and “yang” as the opposites forming a circle exists in complete harmony; the white shape symbolizes “delusion” while the black representing “enlightenment”. This artistic ideology is grounded in the important religious and philosophical tradition of Taoism, which emphasizes that all contrasting elements in nature are inter-dependent and cannot exist in isolation. For the aesthetic ethics of arts, the Chinese artists consider the “swirling motion” suggested by the Taijitu symbol as the divine circle of life, a constant reborn process for all elements in nature. Pu Wei was inspired by an ancient Chinese legend for this Taijitu painting. According to legend, in ancient times sage “Fuxi”, sitting by the riverside of Luohe (Luyang county, China), suddenly saw a turtle with the map on its back showing heaven with 9 circles diagram. Enlightened by this diagram, Fuxi created this Taiji Baqua Diagram (this diagram includes Luohe 9 stars with numerous fishes swarming the sea, color changing, and swirling motions collecting all energy “qi” in one). Pu Wei pioneered in applying Color of Surupa to express the ancient Chinese philosophical view of the universe and nature. With her unique imagination combined with skillful brushstrokes, Pu Wei has vividly brought the more powerful “qi” (energy) out of this Taiji diagram. Brushstrokes.
“Quan” or Dragon “. I Ching or Classic of Changes,” is considered as an ancient “divination” text and the oldest of the “Chinese classics”. Possessing a history of more than two and a half millennia of commentary and interpretation, the “I Ching” is very “influential as wisdom text” read throughout the world, providing inspiration to the subjects such as religion, psychoanalysis, business, literature. The art List of hexagrams of the I Ching, the first one in sequence is called “qian” which means dragon when not mature well cannot be used. This ancient wisdom text emphasizes that “Dragon” must be trained to possess perseverance and wait for the right opportunity for action after having accumulated energy ‘qi.
The Seven Stars Place. Southern “Suzaku” is the fourth place of all seven places. It is originated in the ancient Han people who worshipped stars in nature---a combination of mythology and astronomy.South Zhuque is considered as south god. Astronomy is a combination of ancient Chinese mythology and astronomy. The ancients think that the position of stars between each other is constant. Human can use stars do signs to indicate tomorrow, date and month, and five-star runs to the position in heaven.
Personal Destination Diagram. As we all know, the ancient Chinese pursued the harmony of man with nature as the ultimate state of poised living. The core of Chinese traditional culture is "Tao", which means “the source,” the inherent law of the natural development of the universe. Taoism emphasizes the concept of “Yin” and “Yang”, a balanced polarity of the two opposites working together to bring harmony to nature and man. Taoism promotes the oneness or unity of man and universe. For the ideal living in a society, the five elements in the ancient Chinese philosophy--water水, fire火, wood木, metal金, earth土are considered equally important in terms of regulating energy “qi.” Energy “qi” is essential in all walks of lives in nature. The aim of Chinese Fengshui study is to regulate the five elements of air so as to achieve balanced ‘qi” for the ideal, prosperous living.
Feng Shui Fish (Arowana Fish). Placing a fengshui aquarium inside a Chinese resident’s house is believed to draw good luck to a living space. The motion and sounds of the bubbling water as it moves throughout the fish tank is generally believed to activate or increases the positive energy flow in a living space, which brings the area good fortune, wealth and abundance. The water symbolizes the flow of life, of growth and freshness of living things. An Arowana Fish especially brings more than beauty, eternal prosperity and abundance into a living space. An Arowana Fish or “jinlong fish” image in the painting is an auspicious sign, like placing a real fish hanging on the wall.
Dragon Waves. The conception of “Dragon Waves” bears roots in the ancient metaphysical thinking significantly the thoughts of Laozi and Zhuangzi. One aspect of the metaphysical thinking is that all mountains and rivers contain spirit. The interdependence of heaven and earth is also emphasized by Taoism. The aesthetic preference expressed in Dragon Waves features “the inner spirit of mountains and rivers.” In this picture, Pu Wei depicted a Dragon like overviewing the earth from above, with its shining elegance ---this splendor reveals both mountains and rivers do contain inner spirit, and the painted shapes of tree branches looking like veins, roots spreading or a map ……all stirring boundless imaginations in the viewers.
Zhang Jia Jie (the must-see scenic area in China, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage in 1992). Landscape painting was esteemed high through decades in the ancient Chinese art history and is still regarded as the highest form of Chinese painting now. The Mountains and rivers have always been appreciated for their visual and inspirational splendor based on the Chinese cultural practices. This painting featuring Zhang Jia Jie, belongs to a typical Feng Shui class painting: Lotus Mountain, looks like a sword pointing toward the blue sky, high and magnificent, with crystal fresh springs flowing endlessly. Pu Wei brings out the gorgeous mountain landscape by Color of Surupa painting techniques.
Asura Custodian Condor –Asura, a Hero, from Sanskrit, meaning one of the Buddha gods. This painting, through the artist’s transcended mind, describes a Buddhist story of the ideal interdependent living of all creatures in universe---- Sea heaven waves, the magic condor flying, elk dotting, dolphin jumping, and lion’s roaring, The painting serves as a portal through which all viewers can appreciate the beauty of an ideal Buddha’s kingdom where all things in the nature and universe are deeply connected and interdependent. Taiji, the ultimate source, embraces both microcosm and macrocosm , and their interconnection demonstrates the ideal kingdom for living.
(Translated by Dr Ruth Lingxin Yan, Director of Library Services, Allen College, Barrett Library, UnityPoint, Iowa, USA.)