Show Preview | Z.Z. Wei

Santa Fe, NM
Manitou Galleries, July 24-August 7

Z.Z. Wei, Crisp Autumn, oil, 48 x 48.

Z.Z. Wei, Crisp Autumn, oil, 48 x 48.

This story was featured in the July 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art July 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

Midsummer is a glorious time of year in Santa Fe. And one of the most beautiful places to enjoy a balmy evening is the indoor-outdoor location of Manitou Galleries on Canyon Road. With its traditional adobe architecture and flowering garden, it also provides an ideal spot for viewing some 15 new paintings by Beijing-born, Seattle-based artist Z.Z. Wei. His latest show opens with a reception welcoming the artist himself and guests from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on July 24 for wine, hors d’oeuvres, and live music.

Like the setting itself, Wei’s oils capture the very essence of the desert Southwest—not just the rugged, sun-scorched landscape, in bold forms and blazing colors, but also the dramatic interaction between nature and mankind. “As you stand in front of one of his paintings,” says gallery marketing coordinator Matt Mullins, “you get a sense that he builds them up layer upon layer, as if all the geologic forces of the region are at work.”

Wei has, in fact, steeped himself in the geology of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado, traveling their roadways and gathering his impressions—not through photographs, quick sketches, or plein-air studies as some artists do, but entirely in his memory. Then, back home in his studio, he “composes ideal landscapes in my head,” he says, and painstakingly transfers them to canvases ranging in size from as small as 8 by 10 inches to as large as 6 by 6 feet.

Idealized though they may be, however, Wei’s works do not overlook the presence of humankind. He incorporates images of monolithic adobes, or he might cross a scene of valleys and mesas with a slash of roadways, tire tracks, or tractor-cut furrows. “I am fascinated by the organic form of adobe structures, as if they just grow out of the earth and have their own lives. I am also always interested in both the power of nature and the strength of human beings,” he says.

“Above all,” Wei adds, “I keep exploring the relationship between the two.” And that last observation may, in fact, offer a bright ray of insight into the compelling title of this particular exhibition: Broken Boundaries. —Norman Kolpas

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Featured in the July 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art July 2015 print issue or digital download Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!

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