Ji Wenyu and Zhu Weibing


Painter, Instalations, Ji *1959 Shanghai and Zhu *1971 Heilongjiang
Husband and Wife (2003), Live and work in Shanghai

The Couple fabricating Soft Mountains, 2005

This artistic couple collaboratively create soft sculptures, toys made to represent China’s contemporary culture. Ji Wenyu and Zhu Weibing were born in 1959 and 1971 respectively, and both are graduates of the Shanghai Art & Crafts School. Their delicately balanced works owe much to Zhu’s training as a fashion designer and art professor, while Ji previously worked as a painter. Their social and political critique of China’s command-consumer economy is plain to see in their works, which have been exhibited all over the world.

As the two tell the tale of how they began working together, their closeness is obvious as they finish each other’s sentences. With their artistic enterprises and an 11-year-old lovely daughter, Ji says their collaboration never stops. “We are at the studio together and at home together and in both places we are always busy. When we are at home, we always discuss the arts, and sometimes also our daughter will participate in our discussions while she is doing her homework. We are immersed in this lifestyle and for us, it’s completely natural.”
Photo and text vantageshanghai (2012)

Ji's previous Life and Paintings

Happines for the Children, 1959

The Tree Making Money, 1993

Mona Lisa in China, 1995

Expose Your Intimate Antics, 2001

A Good Lanscape Needs a God, 2001

Shanghai's Good Food, 2002

I like the way in which Mao Zedong spoke.
Comment on his work by Ji Wenyu, Aug,2000
“I want my works to be unique. Coming straight from the heart, they have abandoned all affectation and so are necessarily natural. They come from my individual and unique experience of life and so they must be unique. I want my works to be interesting and possess a feeling of the times. Everyone is limited by the times in which one lives and it is impossible consider things disengaged from the environment in which you exist, just like Michaelangelo, Rembrant, Wharhol, and Beuys we too are unable to resolve some of the problems we face. "Pen and ink follow the times!" Therefore only people who break free from conventions are able to have interesting experiences and seize the times and culture of the times to produce new art. It is my desire that my works possess a certain integrality. I want to be able to coordinate the creation from concept to production so that any contradictions and sentiments as well as conceptual changes in the work can achieve a kind of integrality. To achieve this requires an understanding of art and true emotion. I want my works to be everyday and easy to understand. I don't like to feign profundity. I like the way in which Mao Zedong spoke. Every sentence he used was easily understandable and yet he was a great leader. The first goal for my works is that they be easy to understand. But naturally, I can't force people to like them.

Jin Wenju's and Zhu Weibing's Cooperative

Let Hundred Flowers Bloom

Let 100 Flowers Bloom, 2005

Growing up in a Baby Carriage, 2007

400 Delegates Holding Flowers, 2003-2007

Zhu Weibing and Ji Wenyu have been making textile-based sculptures together since 2003. [They worked for four years on the third above installation]. Their delicately balanced works owe much to Zhu's training as a fashion designer and art professor, while Ji worked previously as a painter, incorporating Western Pop art. In their soft sculptures, the artists comment on consumerism and social aspirations in post-Cultural Revolution China. With People holding flowers 2007, the artists have selected a subject that contains potent symbolism for Chinese culture, recalling Chairman Maos dictum which preceded the bloody purges of his Hundred Flowers Campaign of 1957. Using the flowers symbolism, the artists contrast the de-individualizing effects of mass consumption with the subservience of the individual to the state under communism.

Views from Shanghai

Watching the View, 2005

Despite Ji’s sardonic pose, there is something touchingly sentimental about the panel 'Watching the View', wherein a small figure stands on the balcony of his faceless apartment tower and gazes at distant mountains with an almost proprietary pride. The petty aspirations of Shanghai’s striving classes are easy to mock, but Ji reveals a gentler sympathy with the tower dweller, realizing a fantasy of affluence and autonomy beyond the dreams of his younger self.
From artnet

The Real View
The exhibition took place at ShanghART on Moganshan Lu lane in Shanghai in 2005

Another view: Moganshan Lu arts area, a collection of reconverted warehouse galleries along Suzhou Creek in Shanghai [the low buildings across the creek]. Rotting industrial debris and sullen apartment complexes lend the new art district an air of gritty authenticity, but don’t be fooled -- plenty of money is being made here. On a recent Friday evening, the complex was nearly deserted except for a few security guards, maids and the odd curator, wilting in the sticky heat and mosquito eddies.