BEIJING -- Hidden in the back of a longtang in the former French Concession, but separated from the rest of the alley by a large wood paneled door, this gallery's exhibition spaces have been immaculately refurbished.
A quaint courtyard out front distinguishes the gallery from many of its more sterile brethren throughout Shanghai. Zhang Wei is a contemporary artist who has dabbled in many forms of media including graphic design and fiction writing. However, this show, curated by Jeremie Thircuir, focuses on a single series called "Qi Baishi vs. Marilyn," which juxtaposes the American sex icon with the master calligrapher and artist, Qi, who worked unrecognized well into his 60s. The style of the series combines a derivation of Qi's fanciful watercolor figures and contrasts this with voluptuous and at times lewd images of Marilyn.
Using the digital collage technique, Zhang thrusts together images of the popular and the scholarly¨Cconcepts that we think of as mutually exclusive. Forcing the viewer to reexamine preconceived notions of Western and Eastern icons, Zhang crosses barriers of time, space and culture to create a light and witty, yet thoughtful effect. Using oil on canvas, the artist distances his personal approach from the watercolor world of Qi and from the photography and film that made Monroe famous.
And so, even though he combines outside influences, Zhang simultaneously retains his own identity as an artist.