Xianwei Zhu

Born 1971 in Qingdao, China, 1989-1993 studied art education at Shandong University, China, 1993-1996 studied painting at Hangzhou Art Academy, China, diploma painting, 1996-2000 lecturer at Qingdao University, China, 2001-2008 studied free painting at Stuttgart State Academy of Fine Arts with Prof. Güdemann, Diploma Free Painting, 2009 Lectureship at the Merzakademie Stuttgart, Since 2016 Visiting Professor at the Art Academy Yun Nan, China, 2020 -2021 Lectureship at the Technical University Dortmund. Xianwei Zhu lives as a freelance artist in Düsseldorf, Stuttgart and Krefeld.

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When did you start working as an artist?

When I was a child I learned painting from a Chinese master, later I studied at an art academy in China and then worked as a teacher at the art academy. In 2000 I quit my job and came to Germany. There I studied painting at the art academy in Stuttgart. I have been painting most of my life as an artist and have been working as a freelance artist in Germany since 2008.

why did you start working as an artist?

It was my childhood dream to become a painter. I was lucky enough to realize my dream. Art is the language of the human soul and it is a blessing to be able to freely express the inner world through painting.

who and what inspires you?

There are many things in life that can inspire you, whether it is a poem you read, a piece of music by Satie, the experience of sitting in nature or admiring a masterpiece, an observation of the sky, a strangely shaped rock, and so on. Inspiration is everywhere when the mind is sufficiently focused.

Is there something or someone that influences you?

As a Chinese born in the 1970s, the background of that time has influenced me greatly. It was a very simple, pure time for me. When I think about the cultural roots deep in my heart, it must be the spirit of traditional Chinese culture. But I have also lived in Germany for over 20 years and absorbed a lot of Western culture, philosophy and art. This influence on me is also very important.

What materials do you work with and why?

Acrylic paints are best for me because I like to cover the picture layer by layer and they dry quickly. Compared to oil painting, the smell of acrylic is also less annoying.

which techniques do you prefer?

The most comfortable and free form of expression is the best technique. The highest level of painting should forget about technique. There is a saying by Lao Tzu that great ingenuity often seems to be clumsiness.

are there colors and shapes that you prefer?

I often use blue and brown in my work. For me, blue has spiritual properties and brown has earth properties. I like the shape of mountains and valleys. They are symbols of rise and fall. This is also where the thoughts of Taoism come from.

where do you work?

I work in Düsseldorf, Stuttgart and Krefeld. Before the pandemic, I worked in Beijing for a month every year.

do you want to say something with your art?

The theme of my paintings is the landscape, but the landscape is only the carrier. Painting is to express the inner spirit of the self. I try to understand the spirit of ancient Chinese culture and Western romantic painting at their source. I believe this source is the inner experience of nature through one's being. We are currently in a time of crisis and one should reflect on our symbiotic relationship with nature. When we are in a crisis we can draw the power of regeneration from nature - from within.

what is important to you in your work? What would you like to achieve in 5 years?

Painting brings me joy and is a challenge. Painting is the unknown, so it has always appealed to me. Painting is a path that guides my spiritual maturity and freedom, and my goal is to walk that path. So I don't plan and let things take their course.


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