The Poems that View the World with Heart

—Understand the Paintings of Zhang Wanli through the “Window”

Zhang Wanli was born in 1957 in Kashgar, a border city of Sinkiang, China. Being a child, she loved doodling. And in high school, she started drawing sketches in the cities and learning from several artists, such as Liu Xilin, Maimaiti Iti, and Huang Dalai.She also participated in several joint exhibitions by local artists. After graduation, she worked on art propaganda in local Bureau of Education and Department of Propaganda. She moved to Vancouver, Canada in 1990 and continued her work of paining and art education there.

Her works are delivered in various forms, including prints, comic books, illustrations, mural designs, oil paintings, propylene paintings, and ink paintings, with contents of figure, landscape and still life. Although her style changes slightly as time passes and her experience accumulates, but her advocation for simplicity, and her preference for surreal, mysterious and strong colors have never changed. And she still loves going out and drawing sketches for figures in the real life.

She is good at arranging the colors and textures of the vases of flowers, fruits, desks and interlining. The contrast of shapes and colors naturally presents her feminine love for beauty, and the transparent flash of sunlight always reflects the pleasure in the bottom of her heart. Later, she enlarged the window appeared into a meaningful linear framework, and drew the rotation of seasons with the different cultural flavors to express her unique understanding of life. Surprising, almost in every painting, there is a flying apple. According to the artist herself, she was like a flying apple after leaving her hometown, because everyday was a “poetic cherished twist of happiness and anxiety”…She has use the apple as a symbol of spirit, and the windows as “the eyes to see the world with heart”. I applaud her for this poetic phrase, because she keeps her pure heart even in the foreign country. That’ what Yang Xiong in Han Dynasty called “the pictures of the heart”. As Shi Tao put it, “paintings, is the reflection of hearts.” In Wanli’s first exhibition after she returned China,she is showing us the poems that she views the world with her heart, the Chinese culture that has integrated into her blood.