Pu Wei was interviewed exclusively by Salvatore Russo, a famous international art critic in Italy, and published in the International Contemporary Art Magazine (7/8 issue, 2022, Art Now Media, Italy ). Here is the full interview content about Pu Wei’s artistic path of "The color of Surupa".
1. Would you like to tell us how your love for art was born?
I am a self-taught painter. When I was 3 years old, I saw an artist painting brightly colored paintings, and I immediately had the idea of wanting to paint. From then on, I used chalk to scribble on the ground every day. In the following twenty years, without the guidance of teachers and without professional training, I have mastered the skills of traditional Chinese painting through self-study. This is a primitive and self-growth process. I have formed a very personal aesthetic concept. As a result, in school, the art teacher gave up teaching me and let me paint freely, no one could change me. From a professional point of view, I am a person with no artistic future, so that I never thought I would become a painter. I majored in educational technology in college and then worked as an educational television editor. I almost stopped painting before I was thirty.
2. Your “Color of Surupa” series is of considerable critical interest. Can you explain us your artistic evolution, linked to this really very innovative series?
In March 2011, I had a wonderful dream: a monk in a red robe handed me a paintbrush, this dream awakened my painting passion that had been dormant for many years, and I felt that there was a powerful force pushing me into crazy painting situation. It took me nearly two years to complete the artistic transformation of others for decades. I went from the most basic traditional Chinese fine brush painting to ink and wash, from figurative painting to abstract painting. After I tried a variety of Eastern and Western techniques, I think these technologies are still binding me. So, I decided to completely overthrow all past experience and skills and create a way to express my innermost feelings freely. Until 2013, a new style of painting began to take shape, but at that time almost no one could understand my paintings, I was questioned and criticized by many professionals, and my works were not eligible to participate in any professional exhibitions. I'm confused, I don't know what my drawing is. After a period, in another dream I was told that my painting called "The Great Perfection" painting. I searched for information based on these two dreams, and the result surprised me, my new painting style came from the Great Perfection Dharma (the Dzogchen Dharma) of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism. In 2016, I officially named this new painting style "The color of surupa", which is a brand-new type of Chinese painting rooted in the eastern philosophical system and Chinese cultural ideas. On the thoughts level, it is a huge leap, and it is an upgrade of the dimension of mental imagery. Of course, the corresponding expression techniques have also brought revolutionary changes.
3. You are certainly a point of reference among contemporary Chinese artists. I find your painting technique very interesting. Would you like to illustrate it to our readers?
Yes, my technique is capricious, it changes with my mental imagery, the only constant is the mind method of Great Perfection. The Great Perfection is a very advanced system of meditation on the deepest, subtlest, foundational levels of mind. “Mind” refers to the unbroken mental activity of cognitively engaging with objects, described from another point of view as the mental activity of giving rise to appearances (mental holograms). Regarding the Great Perfection mind method, it is difficult to explain accurately in words. It is a very subtle method of projection and manifestation of mental images. I have built a theoretical model to describe this mind method, which is not its essence, just a superficial metaphor:
This is a holographic, three-dimensional circular space representing an infinite, borderless universe. The center of the circle is my heart. When I empty my heart, my whole being merges with the universe, and my heart resonates with the universe at the same frequency. At this time, this circular space becomes my consciousness space.Taking white circle as the center, the place closest to the center of the circle belongs to the visible area, and the farthest place is the invisible infinite space. The concentric circles that expand step by step represent the consciousness dimension from "like image" to "unlike image", and the blue line represents the length from visible to invisible. The longer the radius of the blue line, the larger the space covered and the more information and energy contained. "Unlike image" has a much higher level of consciousness than "like image", contains more complex information, and carries more energy, so we cannot use a certain information to name an "unlike image". For example, abstract paintings are difficult to name. If the consciousness dimension is further escalated, we can continue to enter the invisible void space, where "without shape" has appeared. This is the highest aesthetic state revealed by Chinese Taoism - the great form is without shape. This circular space is filled with rainbow light, which is the top-level energy light of the Great Perfection of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, and is invisible light. When I use the Great Perfection mind method, I am in the energy field of the rainbow light. As my consciousness increases, from the visible area to the invisible space, my empty heart, like a mirror, reflects the void image of a higher dimension, this is the projection of mental imagery. According to this model, the dimension of consciousness must be upgraded so that we can perceive areas from the visible to the invisible. The unknown territory of the art of painting is still vast, and the road that the artist explores has no end. When my conscious dimension reaches the invisible space, techniques are no longer a problem at this level, nor are they important, I can use all possible techniques and express all possible images.
4. Looking at your works, we enter a dimension that coincides with esoteric images of the soul. Universe, nature and life enter into a relationship that I would like to define extraordinary and at the same time an integral part of each of your paintings. Do you want to talk about it?
I appreciate your use of the word "dimension", which is a topic that must be touched in my painting creation. In addition to painting, I have had a hobby since I was young. I have a strong interest in Eastern philosophy and traditional Chinese culture, and this interest has never stopped. In Eastern philosophy, there are many discourses on spirit, consciousness, and mind, as well as a large number of methods and paths of mind training, which can help us achieve resonance with nature and life in harmony. One of the methods: meditation, is a method and path that allows our consciousness to transcend the real world, and our mind can connect and merge with the higher dimensional universe space. The universe, nature, life is intrinsically connected and follow common universe laws. Such as: light, peace, harmonious, warmth, calm, joy, relaxation, happiness, purity, etc. These feelings are frequencies, are fluctuations, all of which are "love" energies. Meditation opens the door to connect with the universe, from where the energy of "love" comes. I like to express the relationship and state between the universe, nature, and life, and I am happy to establish a connection with the higher-dimensional universe and transmit the energy of "love" to the audience through my works. Many facts have proved that people feel the shock of their thoughts through my works and start a dialogue with their hearts; People who have experience in mind training read my work and think that they have met it in the subconscious before; Monks can quickly enter a state of meditation by viewing my works; People with headaches see my paintings, and the pain is immediately relieved; Irritable people see my paintings, and their hearts are quickly calmed; Children with pure hearts cheered and cheered when they saw my paintings; People with a high level of spirit regarded my paintings as spiritual totems..., Of course, some people would be afraid and resist when they saw my paintings, these are normal phenomenon. Resonating with the energy frequency in the painting can give you a positive feeling. If you are not in harmony with the energy frequency in the painting, you will have a negative feeling. There are other deep reasons for this phenomenon, and I will not explain it here. My works are purely spiritual artistic expressions, belonging to the metaphysical category of spiritual supremacy.
5. Each Artist in the course of his life has Masters of reference. Do you want to tell us yours?
I have great respect for the Chinese painter and educator Mr. Lin Fengmian (November 22, 1900 - August 12, 1991), who was the enlightener of modern Chinese art and one of the pioneers of modern Chinese painting integrating China and the West. He changed the form of traditional Chinese painting, integrated the techniques of modern western painting, and applied light and color to traditional Chinese ink painting， which not only showed the artistic spirit of Chinese painting, but also created a new artistic style of Chinese painting. His technique has deeply influenced me and prompted me to continue to explore the expression methods of light and color in Chinese painting.
6. I have repeatedly compared your Art to the birth of the phoenix. A painting that is born from the ashes of the past to find a new life in the present. What do you think about it?
It's an incredible coincidence that your insight is so profound and your metaphors are so accurate. More than ten years ago, in the early days of my creation of "The color of surupa", I was called "Flame Phoenix" in my art circle, symbolizing my rebirth from the traditional Chinese painting model with a long history. I gained strong spiritual power from the thoughts of Eastern philosophy and Chinese culture, created an artistic style completely different from traditional Chinese painting, and enriched the expression of contemporary Chinese painting. The phoenix is reborn, and the soul is immortal. The artistic thought of Chinese painting advocates "harmony between man and nature". No matter how I innovate my painting style, this thought has always been my eternal creative soul. I think that every artist is like a phoenix, always adhering to the spirit of innovation and creation on the road of artistic pursuit, burning himself, dedicating himself, this process requires a lot of hardships and suffering, and finally can be reborn from the ashes, obtain the sublimation of life. Artists use their souls to paint a magnificent and beautiful picture of human society, and jointly create a splendid human art history. Artists are a respectable group, and I am fortunate to be one of them. I will continue to create more works and transmit more energy of "love".
7. Seabed, birth of the universe, beauty of a mother nature to us all. How do you choose the themes and names to give to your works?
My mental imagery is a random, accidental, and instantaneous appearance. When I start to paint, I can't determine what it is. I have to give the title according to the image finally presented. The painting medium I use is very thin, absorbent and permeable Chinese painting rice paper. The fluidity of water makes the rendering of ink and color in an uncontrollable state. The image on the paper is constantly changing, and it will automatically appear natural wonderful shape. In this process, I try to minimize the traces of artificial processing. These images, which are composed of vague, scattered, shapeless, contourless, various color points, shadows, shades, light and dark elements, have approached the void scene of higher dimensions. This is the highest aesthetic ideal of Chinese Taoism that I pursue—the Great form Is without shape. My painting is a process of exploring the unknown, and I won't see the result until the end. I have no rules on how to end the painting, it's all based on feeling. For the finished work, I can continue to overlay and expand if needed. This kind of mental image comes from a higher dimension of consciousness, and the information content is large, which cannot be summarized by a clearly topic, so I hardly make any propositions, and usually use the date of the end of painting to number. But sometimes I have to name it out of necessity, in order to give the audience a guide. In fact, the naming process is very difficult for me. My mental imagery paintings have holographic characteristics, and the viewing direction cannot be determined. I constantly rotate and look at the paintings, trying to correspond to a possible image that exists in the real world, so as to determine an easy-to- understand name. My paintings are images naturally presented on rice paper. The frequency of my consciousness resonates and interacts with the frequencies of the universe, nature, and life. There will be paranormal phenomena and telepathic miracles. The images displayed on the rice paper can correspond to various scenes in nature, and sometimes I will name them according to the corresponding scenes, I'll also add some humanistic connotations to clarify the theme. Actually, I am reluctant to name it, because once it is named, the consciousness dimension of the painting will immediately drop, so naming is not necessary. I want to give the freedom of naming to the audience. I cannot underestimate the artistic observation and appreciation of the audience. The audience often sees more connotations than me. When they read my paintings, they usually go beyond my original intentions. Many different conclusions and interpretations they would draw from seeing a painting. I think that if a painting can carry more people's cognitive information, it means that the painting has stronger energy and higher dimension. So that I judge the quality of my work based on the capacity of the information, a work with dozens of interpretations is definitely better than a work with only one answer.
8. Your painting is made of great concentration and precision. What are the feelings that "envelop" you while you paint?
You are a rare great art critic who can see the “energy” in my works, it always "envelop" me around when I paint. This question goes deep, and I am willing to tell you the truth. When I start to paint, I can instantly go into meditation, my heart is like a container full of water, which contains all past experiences and skills, all life's troubles, emotions, desires, chores, etc. Before I start painting, I have to empty all of this water so that my heart is like a cleaned mirror. At this time, I returned to the state of a newborn baby, soft, pure, and clean. Gradually, various light spots, colored lights, rainbow lights, illusory lights and shadows and images appeared in my mind.These things are very high-energy frequency or wave. I want to tell you for sure that consciousness is an energy field that can transcend the real world to establish connections with more high-dimensional spaces, and can change the physical properties of surrounding matter, producing frequency resonance and interaction, and appear paranormal phenomenon, which we call telepathy. The media of Chinese painting are all derived from natural materials of plants, animals, minerals, rocks, etc., which carry the life energy that has passed away, and there is also life energy in the water, which constitutes the media energy field. When my consciousness reaches the higher dimensional space, the light and color with high energy and high frequency will enter the picture along with my creation, and of course the top-level energy light of Great Perfection- rainbow light is everywhere, this is the consciousness energy field. My mental imagery originates from a higher dimensional space, which I call the space energy field. When I connect the three energy fields, there will be interactions. I use the Great Perfection mind method to activate the life activity of these energy fields. This is what eastern philosophy says, "Everything is Spiritual". When I started to paint, I entered a state of emptiness, and a relatively vague image began to appear in my mind. This was the first mental imagery projection. I randomly splashed ink and color on the rice paper. Under the action of the flow of water, ink and color randomly combined, blended, superimposed, penetrated, and generated gradient. These living and spiritual media moved freely, formed automatically, and appeared on the rice paper the ever-changing, natural and mysterious image. The process of transferring the mental imagery to the paper image is the second projection of the mental imagery. During the whole process, I was a conductor of the concert, using my consciousness to guide the water, ink, color, light and shadow to play the symphony on the rice paper. Each medium element freely exerts its own playing talent, and my consciousness interacts with them. On the rice paper, there will be appeared automatically scenes that I did not expect, similar to the natural state of the universe, nature, and life, and including some are extremely esoteric images. That is when I interact with the media energy field, the consciousness energy field, and the space energy field, resulting in supernatural phenomenon and telepathy miracles. In some places, I will do some manual intervention and guidance with a brush. When the carnival of the concert was coming to an end, I used a brush to do the final processing to enhance some details to make the picture look more artistic, refined and more perfect. After some mental imagery pictures are completed, they can continue to be expanded. I will add some humanistic elements, such as symbols of spiritual totems, images with cultural meanings, tantric Mantras Sanskrit, natural scenery and objects so on. It can be said that half of my mental imagery paintings are completed by supernatural life spirituality. These automatically appearing, rich and complex images, I think are some esoteric structures that carry energies and information that we don't know about. The "Esoteric images of the soul " series is an image record of my mental imagery projection, many of which I cannot define. For better understanding, I summarized as follows: The mental imagery is projected twice, the first in the mind and the second on the rice paper; A natural ecology is constructed through the mind method of the Great Perfection, which activate the life activity of all energy fields, and can change the physical properties of surrounding substances, resulting in supernatural phenomenon and telepathy. Similar to the principle of computer, the first step is to collect images by the mind, the second step is to download images by all media; the third step is to store images on paper. The esoteric image is a state of natural existence. It does not need to be created, but needs to be searched, waiting for us to discover. The technique of painting is not important, manual intervention should be minimized, artificial traces should be faded, and the image would be infinitely tending to a natural state, showing its nature. The mental imagery picture can be used as a background image to continue to expand, adding the painter's subjective creative concept and humanistic ideological connotation, and the final work is the perfect combination of natural energy and conscious energy.
9. The chroma, and therefore the color, is a fundamental component in your works. How do you choose the shades to include in your works. Color helps you feel good. How important is it to you?
Color is very important in my works, which is the core of “The color of surupa”. When I paint, the general color theory does not suit me, the light and color I perceive are derived from my mental imagery projection, and this light and color are not affected by natural light. At any time, I can draw on cloudy days, sunny days, bright light, dark light, and even under the changing color lights of the stage, because the light and color projected by my mental imagery are definite and unchanged, and will not be disturbed by the external environment. According to the light and color projected from my mental imagery, I blend the corresponding colors, and let the various colors and inks blend naturally on the paper to produce a superimposed effect. Chinese painting pigments are transparent colors. After the colors are superimposed layer by layer, they will mix, penetrate and change with each other to produce various chromaticities, gradations, hues, shade and shadow, and automatically generate geometric multiples of color combinations. Therefore, in my paintings, it can be seen that the composition of light and color is extremely rich and deep, whether it is cool color or warm color, it can achieve harmony in the end. This is the result of the reconciliation of natural forces. There is a phenomenon worthy of study. There is a big difference between viewing my works with the eyes and viewing my works with Camera lens. Under the Camera lens, the light perception in my works is brighter, the chromaticity is more saturated, and the color gradation is richer. If you zoom in the photo infinitely, you can see countless images, the subtle details are too rich, but these differences are invisible to the eyes. Why does this visual difference occur? Perhaps, the reflected light seen by the eyes is different from the light projected by the mental imagery in terms of frequency and wavelength. The light and color projected by the mental imagery have exceeded the sensitivity range of the eyes. For this, I admire you very much. You actually see rainbow light and colored light that others can't see in my paintings. You have a pair of sharp eyes like Camera lens.
10. You have become a truly international artist. You have won tons of important awards. Do you want to tell us about your artistic career?
In April 2018, I participated in the New York Artexpo for the first time. Since then, I began my international artistic career. In August 2018, I participated in the Summer Fine Art Exhibition London, UK. My work "Between Heaven and Earth" was selected as the poster for the exhibition, which was exposed in the London art medias, and was reported by China Xinhua News Agency (CNC WORLD) and China Education TV (CETV). In December 2018, I participated in the Paris Salon des beaux arts, France, and my work "Golden Land" was exhibited in the Carrousel of the Louvre Museum. In the following years, I participated in many international art exhibitions: Winter international art salon in Strasbourg; Tribeca Art + Culture Night in New York; Mantua Contemporary Art Biennale; Art Biennale in Barcelona; Basel Miami Spectrum International Contemporary Art Exhibition; San Diego Contemporary Art Exhibition; Norman Biennale in Italy, and other international art exhibitions in Portugal and Switzerland, etc. I have won many international art awards: 2019 Italian Botticelli International Award; 2019 Artist of the Year Award; 2019 Velázquez International Award; 2020 New York Contemporary Art Star Award; 2021 Best Modern and Contemporary Artist Award; 2021 won the international high recognition art award - Michelangelo David Prize, awarded by the Accademia Italia in Arte nel Mondo Associazione Culturale. For three consecutive years 2020, 2021, 2022, I was selected into the Italian international authoritative art yearbook "Artisti"; 2020 and 2021, was selected into the "Global Art - International Art Encyclopedia" in Italy. In addition, I have also been reported by China's influential art media, websites and TV stations. In my artistic career, I am honored to be a member of your artist team. By participating in the art events organized by you, more countries and people have seen my paintings. You are the first great critic who introduced to “The color of surupa” in the world. Here, I would like to thank you in particular for your extraordinary contribution to the promotion of international cultural exchanges, and to enhance mutual understanding and communication between Eastern and Western art.
11. Each Artist has a secret related to their art. You have a secret related to your art, which you have never told anyone, what would you like to tell me?
Of course, it was the mysterious dream realm that inspired me to create “The color of surupa”. One day in March 2011, in a dream I flew over a high mountain and saw a Tibetan temple built on halfway up the mountain in a distant. I flew close to the temple and walked to the red tall wooden door. At this moment, the wooden door opened and I was greeted by a monk in a red robe, who handed me a paintbrush and told me something. This dream opened the prelude to “The color of surupa”. About half a year later, when I was browsing the web, I accidentally saw a photo, which surprised me. The scene in the photo was exactly the place I flew to in my dream last time. It was the Tiger's Nest Temple (Paro Taktsang) in Bhutan! In this Tibetan Buddhist temple built halfway up the mountain, there is a cave where Padmasambhava（Guru Rinpoche）, the main founder of Tibetan Buddhism and the founder of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, meditated. Two years later, I was told in my dream that my mental imagery paintings called "The Great Perfection" painting. Through understanding, I learned that The Great Perfection is the highest practice method of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism. Over the years, I have painted a lot of mental imagery paintings, some of which I don't even know what they are, but I got answers in my dreams, and from this I learned a lot about the mind.
12. Your works have been exhibited all over the world. Is there a place where you have never exhibited where you would like to exhibit?
Although I created “The color of surupa” and I am the first artist to apply the Great Perfection mind method to contemporary art, but from my experience along the way, I feel that “The color of surupa” has its mission, and its Birth, growth, and development have their natural routes, where it will go in the future, what will happen, and who it will meet, I cannot subjectively set it, nor can it be foreseeable. Therefore, I have no special requirements for the place of the exhibition. If conditions permit, exhibitions can be held anywhere, and I am happy to participate in more exhibitions so that more people can understand and recognize “The color of surupa”. Now, there are many channels and platforms to display art works such as online exhibitions, virtual exhibitions, digital exhibitions, video exhibitions, NFTs, metaverses, etc., I also would like to try in the future.
13. In the world of contemporary art, most of the great artists are all men. But I think things are changing. Testimony of this is the last Venice Biennale, which had the presence of many women. What do you think about it?
Artistic exploration requires perceptual thinking, and scientific exploration requires rational thinking. Our real society is a material world dominated by scientific thinking. For a long time, people have been advocating science and preferring to use rational, logical and reasoning scientific thinking to explore the field of art. Follow the logic of reasoning from 0, 1, 2, 3, 4... to 10, which is the natural advantage of male thinking. Therefore, in the current trend of artistic exploration led by scientific thinking, a large number of outstanding male artists must emerge, and they have created a brilliant art history. Just imagine, if we return to the origin of artistic thinking and use perceptual, divergent and jumping artistic thinking to explore the field of art. Jumping directly from 0 to 10, leaving some blank space in our minds, what will happen? This is the natural advantage of female thinking. I think there will be many unknown areas waiting for female artists to explore, In the future, female artists will perform better and better. But the reality is that female artists have always been in a disadvantaged position. This is an unbalanced and abnormal phenomenon. Their artistic creativity should be respected and recognized, so this situation should be corrected and changed. In my opinion, whether it is male or female, whether it is rational thinking or perceptual thinking, artistic exploration has no gender distinction, and requires balance, fairness and diversity, so that human artistic creativity can be fully displayed.
14. We can consider you the ambassador of Chinese painting to the world. How has Chinese painting changed over the years?
Chinese painting is one of the oldest continuous artistic traditions in the world. Contemporary Chinese painting is represented by Chinese literati ink painting as the mainstream. There are established brush and ink specifications and modeling rules. A large number of artists are engaged in the creation of ink painting. Beginning in 1990’s, a few Chinese artists began to explore and reform ink painting, trying to create a new style of expression. The "Chinese Experiment Ink and Wash" and "New Ink and Wash" movements emerged. Today, ink painting has gone through the stages of classical ink, modern ink, and new ink. “The color of surupa” is another new personalized style after the new ink painting stage: Using the traditional ink and wash medium unique to the East, a new creative method and path has been developed, which has fundamentally brought about profound changes in techniques and forms, and created a new expression style of Chinese painting.
15. Almost all artists are dissatisfied with their works. They always go in search of perfection, and each work must always be the best. What relationship do you have with your works? What do you think of the artistic journey you have had up to now?
For my figurative painting, I will have unsatisfactory works, because figurative painting has many visible reference objects for comparison, so there will be imperfections. For my mental imagery painting, each of my paintings is an image captured in a specific time and space, which is random, accidental, uncertain, non- repeatable and irreproducible, and there is no reference object for comparison. It is the perfect product in that specific time and space. I think every painting of this kind is my only one and my favorite. The Great Perfection mind method is subtle and esoteric, difficult to grasp and popularize, and I am destined to be a solo artistic journey. At present, besides painting, I occasionally do some artistic thinking, summarize some theories, and participate in some artistic events. I think “The color of surupa” is a kind of painting with its own destiny. It has already been born, it being there, and it has entered the international artistic vision, I will follow it with my heart, and let everything return to its natural nature. This is my " The Great Perfection " artistic journey.