Wei Wu’s gem-studded illustrations explore topics of society, femininity, and friendship

Recently, Wei created a project titled Gu’er Yuan, a Mandarin title that translates to “the wishes of the orphans”. Conceived from her experience volunteering at a children’s home, she sought to portray the scenes from the perspective of orphans. The decision was made “to draw social attention to this vulnerable group through these images”, she says. “I’ve always used metaphors to express feelings and abstract things in my paintings and looked from the perspective of a certain group or audience when thinking about what to draw.” The work is both playful and naive, yet mature enough to represent a host of different meanings that go beyond the surface level of the work. And that sums up what Wei does best; she creates joyfully aesthetic pieces that house a multitude of different narratives.

In female relationship, this series raises the bar for its illustrative style as it crafts busier scenes filled with powerful characters, vibrant palettes, and moving stories. Created on an iPad, the project delves into “the rich inner world of women and their complicated friendship,” Wei says. This is the first time she’s told the story from a female perspective, crafted through the creation of pastel-haired characters who are covered in beads, gems, and placed in different positions. “female relationship explores the two sides of female friendship: sometimes filled with love and peace, but sometimes with pain and betrayal. Myopic, another piece from his extensive portfolio, delves into Wei’s past. The concept is derived from the “fear of a ‘fuzzy world’ in my childhood”, she adds. This “fight” with fear was depicted through an “adventure of my wonderland discovery” crafted through sharp buildings, towering objects, and a tangled jungle she attempts to traverse. “Like Alice in Wonderland, I too was exploring my world.”

Above all, Wei hopes that her works will arouse a feeling, and says that she will never stop exploring the relationship between man and society, “at least for now”, she concludes. “I think the work is successful if it provokes thought, for better or for worse.”

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