The experiences of childhood
often exert an important influence throughout an artist's life
Zhiwei Tu was born in a poverty-stricken
mountain village in Wengyuan county, Guangdong province, China.
His painting, Lunch (1984), depicting a peasant couple who were
taking a lunch break by the field, probably embodies some impressions
from his childhood.
Among people living in remote
districts (in contrast to city-dwellers), there still remains
many of the old tales and legends. This is perhaps one of the
reasons why Zhiwei Tu in his later career has been interested
in historical events. But it is more important to note that he
has been, in his art, seeking the expression of the honesty,
naivety and primitive vitality inherent in the people living
in these remote districts, which can be seen in whatever he depicts
in his historical paintings, and portraitures of the Tibetans,
the oriental and the occidental, even in rendering of nudes.
Tu received his BA and MA degrees
from the Guangzhou Institute of Fine arts, and served for seven
years as an art assistant professor at the same institute. Some
senior professors in the institute had gone to various countries
to make study of 19th and 20th century western art including
Realism and French Impressionism. By learning from them, Tu laid
a solid foundation in his basic skills and the use of colors.
In 1987 Tu came to the U.S. to
make further study of oil painting and was granted a second degree
of MFA at Drake University in 1990. There he was greatly encouraged
and inspired by his advisor Prof. Jules Kirschenbaum. In the
process of studying contemporary American art, Tu has gradually
formed his own style. His work has been exhibited many times
and has won several awards including three golds and one silver
Collected in this album are mainly
figure paintings by Tu. Most of them have been done in the last
ten years [1986-1996- ed.]. Some were conceived more than fifteen
years ago, however.