Shen Wei – In Black, White and Gray presents a rare opportunity to experience contemporary genius at play. Perhaps best known for choreographing the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremonies in 2008, where dancers quite literally drifted and rolled their ink-soaked limbs across a life-sized scroll, the sheer breath and scope of Shen Wei’s art culminates in his upcoming show during Basel Miami week.
Born into a classically-trained family of creatives in Hunan Provence, China, Shen Wei was immersed in the study of Chinese opera performance techniques, calligraphy, and Eastern and Western painting before gravitating to modern dance as a teenager. From his earliest dances, he was interested in creating “a total work of art.” Whereas his overwhelming public success in performance has preceded his presence in visual arts, for Shen Wei, there is no separation in mediums – one cannot overshadow the other. “I was not taught the arts separately and I don’t separate them in my work.”
Shen Wei prefers to paint alone in his studio outside of Manhattan, and completely submerges himself in solidarity to get lost in the process. He wants to “capture and focus on moments of transference… to reveal the journey of dance-making and art-making, to live in each performance.” Painting, dancing, or designing are simply his tools of choice to express thoughts and emotions.
In Shen Wei – In Black, White and Gray - the artist’s first major visual arts debut -11 canvases will be unveiled alongside never-before-seen choreography. Described as a study of contrasts between light and dark, turbulent and tranquil, the parallels that Shen Wei has created in this body of work inspires a symbiosis between painting and dance. He blends cultural influences and blurs boundaries to offer a new form of understanding, where it's not just about black and white, or the thing and its opposite.
Presented by MDC Museum of Art + Design and MDC Live Arts, Shen Wei – In Black, White and Gray opens from December 5 – 7, with five free performances open to the public at the historic Freedom Tower in Downtown Miami (600 Biscayne Boulevard). The exhibition of paintings will remain on view through February 1, 2015. For more information, visit www.mdclivearts.org.
Contributing author Inez Suen