In his career of three decades, Wei Ligang (b. 1964) has sought a universal language of abstraction based on the linear and spatial compositions of Chinese writing, a language capable of embodying the complexity and expansiveness of contemporary human knowledge and existence. His signature “magic squares,” which preserve the structure and strokes of Chinese characters and hark back to the pictographic origins of Chinese writing, are one of the earliest examples of a distinctly personal language in contemporary Chinese art. Wei Ligang generalizes the continuous cursive calligraphy of the 17th-century Shanxi calligrapher Fu Shan, applying it to the seal, clerical, and Oracle Bone scripts of antiquity to create the distinctive script styles of epigraphic mad cursive, “gold-ink cursive,” and “shadow cursive.” Wei Ligang is also the author of a celebrated body of calligraphy-informed abstract paintings.


Wei Ligang’s art is a unique fusion of systematic thought and sensibility, delicacy and spirituality, exoticism and naturalness. His wide-ranging inspirations include ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, industrial civilization and modern machines, European castles and palaces, contemporary physics and astronomy, and the structures of animals and plants. He employs the bright colors of gold, red, and blue, and uses acrylic paints to increase substance and texture. In these respects his art differs from traditional Chinese calligraphy, which typically is monochrome and privileges fluency.


Wei Ligang was born in Datong, the first capital of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534) and home to the famous Buddhist grotto shrines of Yungang, which instilled in him a fondness for the grandeur of Han and Tang-dynasty art. Wei’s father, an art-loving railroad worker, inspired his interest in mechanics and calligraphy. At age 17, Wei entered the mathematics department of Nankai University, where he honed his logical and analytical skills. As President of the university calligraphy society, he came under the mentorship of the local masters Li Henian (1912-2000), Wang Xuezhong (1925-2013), and Sun Boxiang (1934-) in classical poetry and epigraphic scripts. Wang Xuezhong, an early pioneer of Modern Calligraphy, was especially influential to Wei.


After graduating from Nankai in 1985, Wei Ligang became a teacher at a normal school in Taiyuan and immersed himself in the legacy of Fu Shan, a fellow Shanxi native. In 1995, he relocated to the Old Summer Palace in Beijing as a professional artist, and thereafter increasingly engaged with abstract painting and international contemporary art. Over the 90’s, Wei gained prominence as a young pioneer of Modern Calligraphy, participating and organizing a number of influential exhibitions in the field, including Bashu Parade: A Review of China Modern Calligraphy At The End of 20th Century in 1999 in Chengdu. A committed educator and the founder of the International Shuxiang Society, he believes that Chinese calligraphy will reach an unprecedented height within this generation. He aims to develop “writing” (shuxie) into an art form capable of embodying all phenomena and things in the universe and a way to construct “pure structure itself.”


Wei Ligang was the recipient of the 2005 Asian Cultural Council Dr. Joseph K. W. Li Arts Fellowship. His works are in the collections of the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco; British Museum; Cernuschi Museum, Paris; Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle; National Museum of China, Beijing; National Art Museum of China, Beijing; François-Henri Pinault Family, France; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; among others.

1964           Born in Datong, Shanxi Province, China


1981           Studied under renowned Tianjin calligraphers Li Henian, Wang Xuezhong, and Sun Boxiang
1985           Graduated with a major in mathematics from Nankai University, Tianjin, China





          Vice-President of Modern Calligraphy Art Association of China
President of International Shuxiang Society


2005           Asian Cultural Council Dr. Joseph K. W. Li Arts Fellowship



Wei Ligang: Luminous Birds, Gajah Gallery, Singapore


The Opening Exhibition for Wei’s Private Museum, Jiangxi, China

            Beyond Three Perfections, Ireland Dublin Castle, Ireland

Thinking Ink, Gajah Gallery, Singapore


Songs of the Phoenix Mirror, Ink Studio, Beijing, China

            Universal Things Examine: Wei Ligang Retrospective 1996-2016, Being 3 Gallery, Beijing, China




          Wei Ligang Solo Exhibition, Françoise Livinec, Paris, France
Wei Ligang: Imperial Gold, Michael Goedhuis, London, UK
Wei’s Ink Garden: Wei Ligang, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong S.A.R., China
2014           Wei Ligang: Chinese Palaces, Michael Goedhuis, New York, USA
2012           Zao Jian: Wei’s Shu Xiang, Being 3 Gallery, Beijing, China
2011           Banquet of Magnificence—Shu Xiang@Wei Ligang, Being 3 Gallery, Beijing, China



          [Gold · Unicon] 2010 Graphimage by Wei Ligang, Contrasts Gallery, Shanghai, China
New Ink Painting by Wei Ligang, Michael Goedhuis, London, UK




          Wei Ligang: The New Ink Painting, Goedhuis Contemporary, New York, USA
Calligraphy performance, Chateau Penthes, Toulouse, France
Han Palace vs Egypt Pyramid: Wei Ligang’s New Solo Exhibition, Being 3 Gallery, Beijing, China
2007           Zhi Kan: Wei Ligang’s Calligraphy Art Exhibition, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China





          New Works by Wei Ligang, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong S.A.R., China
China in Ink & Wash: Exhibition of Wei Ligang’s Works, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China
Cursive: Yin Mei’s Modern Dance (with participation of Wei Ligang), Queens College, The City University of New York, New York, USA



          On the Journey—Wei Ligang’s Art Exhibition Tour In Hongkong and Shenzhen, Artist Commune, Hong Kong S.A.R.; He Xiangning Art Museum, Shenzhen, China
1999           Rongcheng Diaries, Longdexuan Gallery, Taiyuan, China 
1996           Insects: Chinese Characters That Itch, Songfengxuan GalleryBeijing, China



          Touring Exhibition of Calligraphy, Paintings and Seals by Wei Ligang (Third Exhibition), Nangong, Taiyuan, China



          Touring Exhibition of Calligraphy, Paintings and Seals by Wei Ligang (Second Exhibition), Nankai University, Tianjin; Tsinghua University, Beijing; Nangong, Taiyuan, China



          Touring Exhibition of Calligraphy, Paintings and Seals by Wei Ligang (First Exhibition), Nankai University, Tianjin, China 




          Art West Lake, Hang Zhou, China


          Changing China: Contemporary Ink PaintingMichael Goedhuis, New York, USA



          Metamorphosis: China-Italia Biennale, Being 3 Gallery, Manet Art Museum, Beijing, China
100 Ans de Steles (One Hundred Years of Steles), Françoise Livinec, Paris, France 
2015           The Avant-Garde in China: Ink Art, Michael Goedhuis, London, UK
2014           Memory: China-Italia Biennale, 798 Space, Beijing, China







          Insightful Charisma: Shanghai Himalayas Museum Inaugural Exhibition, Shanghai Himalayas Museum, Shanghai, China
Visual Variation, West Lack Museum, Hangzhou, China
Beyond Black and White—Chinese Contemporary Abstract Ink, Pearl Lam Galleries, Shanghai, China
Beyond Abstraction, Poligono Gallery, Marbella, Spain




          Ink: The Art of China, The Saatchi Gallery, London, UK
The Way of Writing, Zendai Contemporary Art Space, Shanghai, China
Italia-China Biennale, Villa Reale, Monza, Italia




          The Art of Writing, ArtForum in der Kurhaus Kolonnade, Wiesbaden, Germany
Expression of Chinese Contemporary Art, Today Art Museum, Beijing, China
Fine Contemporary Chinese Art Since 1981, Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong S.A.R., China






          Art Singapore, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Art Basel Miami Beach, Miami Beach Convention Center, Miami, USA
Calligraphy In Context, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China
Art Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Art Palm Beach Art Fairs, Palm Beach County Convention Center, Miami, USA




          The Orchid Pavilion: The Art of Writing in China, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels, Belgium
Ink Painting and Calligraphy: The Third Abstraction, Contrasts Gallery, Shanghai, China






          Fine Art Asia, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Hong Kong S.A.R., China
Zeichen Im Wandel Der Zeit (New Ink Scene), Berlin National Museum, Berlin; Dresden National Art Museum, Dresden, Germany
Ink, Not Ink: Chinese Contemporary Ink and Wash Art Exhibition, Shenzhen Art Museum, Shenzhen, China



          Reboot: The 3rd Chengdu Biennale, Chengdu Tomorrow’s Fine Arts and Technology Gallery and Museum, Chengdu, China
2006           Chinese Ink Painting Document 19762006, Nanjing Museum, Nanjing, China











          The Act of Writing and of Non-Writing: The Open Space for Chinese Calligraphy, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China
2005 Seoul Calligraphy Biennale: Rhythm and Diffusion, Seoul Metropolitan Museum and Seoul History Museum, Seoul, Korea
Construct the Ink Map: A Joint Exhibition of Contemporary Calligraphic paintings by Wei Ligang, Yang Xiaojian and Xu Jie, Museum63 Artist Commune, Hong Kong S.A.R., China
Construct the Ink Map: A Joint Exhibition of Contemporary Calligraphic Paintings by Yang Xiaoneng and Wei Ligang, Today Art Museum, Beijing, China
Crossing Boundaries - Works by Asian Cultural Council Fellows 2005, Lee Gardens, Hong Kong S.A.R., China







          Chinese Characters As Resource, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney, Australia
Chinese Character Confuse Situation, Today Art Museum, Beijing, China
Nominees’ Exhibition of Chinese Calligraphy, Jiangsu Traditional Chinese Painting Institute, Nanjing, China
“Calligraphy of 2” Bi-Exhibition: Jat See-yeu—Classical HK · Wei Li-gang—Contemporary Beijing, Museum63 Artist Commune, Hong Kong S.A.R., China



          International Modern Ink Art Exhibition, Shaanxi History Museum, Xi’an, China
Space on the Move, Red Gate Gallery, Beijing, China
2002           Brushes with Surprise: The Art of Calligraphy in Modern China, British Museum, London, UK




          Zero Degree: Contemporary Art Exhibition, Bridge Art Space, Beijing, China
Dimensions of Chinese Character: A Group Exhibition of Four Chinese and International Artists, Chaoyang Cultural Center, Beijing, China 



          International Documentary Exhibition of Calligraphy, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, Taiwan






          Bashu Parade: ’99 The Review of China Modern Calligraphy At The End of 20th Century, Chengdu International Conference and Exhibition Center, Chengdu, China
East Abstract Paintings Exhibition, Creation Gallery, Beijing, China
Abstract Paintings Exhibition of Wei Li-gang, Zhong Ru-qian and Xiao Feng, Creation Gallery, Beijing, China





          Academic Symposium and Exhibition on Developmental Strategies of Modern Chinese Calligraphy, Gaoyou Museum, Gaoyou, China
New Expressway: A Salon of Calligraphy, Shanxi Provincial Federation of Literature and Arts Building, Taiyuan, China
1997           Exhibition of Seven Yuanmingyuan Artists, Songfengxuan Gallery, Beijing, China 
1996           Three-Person Show, Songfengxuan Gallery, Beijing, China
1995           First International Calligraphy Biennale, China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China
1992           Joint Exhibition of Calligraphy from Shanxi, China and Saitama, Japan, Nangong, Taiyuan, China 



          Joint Exhibition of Calligraphy from Nankai University and Kagawa University, Nankai University, Tianjin, China


François-Henri Pinault Family, France
Cernuschi Museum, Paris, France
British Museum, London, UK
Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, USA
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, USA
Crow Collection of Asian Art, USA
Origo Family Foundation, Switzerland
National Museum of China, Beijing, China
National Art Museum of China, Beijing, China
He Xiangning Art Museum, Shenzhen, China
Red Cross Society of China, Beijing, China
Today Art Museum, Beijing, China


Last Updated: December 2016