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Founded in 1979, October Gallery, in central London, exhibits innovative, contemporary art from around the world. For over 40 years, October Gallery has pioneered the development of the Transvangarde - the trans-cultural avant-garde.


Tian Wei

Tian Wei was born in Xi’an, the first imperial capital of China, and original starting point of the Silk Road, which played a seminal role in linking East and West together in a complex network of trade and reciprocal exchange. Steeped in the histories of Chinese cultures, Xi’an is rich in museums, including the famous Beilin Museum, whose ‘Stele Forest’ represents the most important repository of Chinese calligraphy in existence. Tian Wei left China for Hawaii, in 1986, to pursue a career in the arts. Upon completing his MFA in Hawaii, 1990, he subsequently settled in California. After years of travelling back and forth between America and China, he has been based in Beijing since 2011.

Both theoretically and formally, Tian Wei’s work constructs a bridge between things that appear as dyadic opposites, binary poles or complementary pairs. This perspective of Yin and Yang is deeply embedded in Chinese thinking, and the artist’s frequent reference to Classic texts such as the I Ching (The Book of Changes) and Tao Te Ching appear as quotations in minute script patterning the background upon which larger semi-abstract cursive shapes are drawn. On trying to read these lines as Chinese characters, however, anyone familiar with Chinese poetry, painting or philosophy is bound to be frustrated, since the conundrum of interpreting the meaning of the flowing shapes can only be resolved in English. The lines, in fact, spell out simple English nouns, adjectives and phrases such as ‘Myth’,‘Red’ and ‘Money Makes the World Go Round.’ These carefully chosen words give the viewer access to the artist’s lived experience of both Eastern and Western spheres. In one of these large-scale works, the word ‘Sex’ stands out as bright red gestural daubs, on a canvas of the same colour, its thick impasto brush strokes layering the surface with tiny shadows. Drawn with great freedom, the brush strokes are sharp yet sinuous and though enigmatic, the lettering is ultimately comprehensible to any viewer who reads English.

The separation between English and Chinese aesthetics deepens into hermeneutics which quickly spirals out to include much larger universal questions about reality, Life: Death, Being: Absence etc. To the Chinese way of thinking, this inevitably returns us to the concept of Tai Chi – the Great Universal level that includes both Yin and Yang and indeed contains everything that exists. In talking about his work Tian Wei has described the
‘perspective of looking at two sides of a coin at the same time. What fascinates me most is that there can always be a switching – perhaps even a continuity - between both sides.’
Tian Wei’s artistic vision is not one that divides or separates the East from the West but one that integrates both, and for this reason it is both timely – and timeless.


Tian Wei

Title of Untitled









Love of the Beloved



Form of Formless



To be - or not to be

Money Makes The World Go Around

Tian Wei Biography

Born in Xi’an, China 1955, Tian Wei received a scholarship to attend the University of Hawaii in 1986 where he graduated with a MFA in 1990.

Solo Exhibitions
2018    Tian Wei, October Gallery, London, United Kingdom
2014   Tian Wei, October Gallery, London, United Kingdom
2012    Mind - Tian Wei, MOCA Shanghai, Shanghai, China
2008   Oil paintings by Tian Wei, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guang Zhou, China
(Curated by: Fan Di'an , Director of the National Art Museum of China)
2007   National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China
(Curated by: Fan Di'an, Director of the National Art Museum of China)
1992   Municipal Gallery, City Culture Affairs Dept, Puebla, Mexico
    Brannstein/Quay Gallery, San Francisco, California, USA.
1990   From Mainland China to Los Angeles: Wei, Tian Painting and Drawings from 1980-1990
Armory Center for the Arts, California, USA (Curated by: Josine Ianco- Starrel, former Director of the Municipal Art Gallery of Los Angeles)
Group Exhibitions
2018   Artists and Their Books/Books and Their Artists, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, USA
2017   Transvangarde 2017, October Gallery, London, UK
2016   Chinese Whispers, Kunstmuseum, Bern, Switzerland
2014   Secret Signs: Calligraphy in Chinese Contemporary Art, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Original Home: An Exhibition of Contemporary Art,Jia Pingwa Museum of Culture and Arts, Xi’an, China
2008    Shanghai MoCA Envisage II, Butterfly Dream, MoCA Shanghai, China
Material Link - A Dialogue Between Greek and Chinese Artists, MoCA Shanghai, China
Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection, BAMPFA, University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, California, USA
Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, Spain
2006   Entry Gate: Chinese Aesthetics of Heterogeneity, MOCA Shanghai, Shanghai, China.
    Living Furniture, Busan Biennale, Busan, South Korea
1992   Galleria Finarte, Nagoya-city, Japan
    International Mail Exhibition, Armory Center for the Art, Pasadena, California, USA 1992
Painterly Painting, Armory Center for the Art, Pasadena, California, USA
1991   Exhibition 3, Art Rental & Sales Gallery at LACMA, Los Angeles, California, USA
    Los Angeles Area Contemporary Artist Exhibition (Organized by Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Medical Awards, Pasadena, California, USA
1989   Hawaii Chinese Artist Show, AmFac Exhibition Hall, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
    Annual Eastern Arts Festival, AmFac Exhibition Hall, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
1971   Five Northwestern Province Fine Arts Exhibition, Shan’xi Museum, Xi’an, China
2017   Artist in Residence, Getty Research Institute, Los Angles, USA
1993-94    Cultural Grant, Cultural Affairs Department, City of Los Angeles, California, USA
1989   First Prize, Hawaii Art Annual Competition, AmFac Exhibition Hall, Hawaii, USA
1988   First Prize, Annual Eastern Arts Festival, AmFac Exhibition Hall, Hawaii, USA
1982   First Prize, Shan’xi State University Students’ Calligraphy Competition, Xi’an city, China
1982    Second Prize National University Students’ Calligraphy Competition, Beijing, China
1971   Youngest Artist Award, Five Northwestern Province Fine Arts Exhibition, Shan’xi  Museum, Xi’an, China

M+, West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, USA MoCA Shanghai, China
Sigg Collection, Switzerland
National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China
Art Division, City of Santa Monica, Santa Monica, California, USA
Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, Hawaii, USA

October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3AL Tel: + 44 (0)20 7242 7367