Our Conversation Series features intimate interviews with leading experts from around the world: collectors, curators, artists, gallerists, and museum directors.
Between 2011 and 2014, I worked on a series called ‘Painting Is Collecting’. This series is about a subject that I have liked since I was young – Natural History. This series explores many basic and functional aspects of painting, because I think these are the fundamentals of painting. That is how you replace the reality with another parallel world. When you draw something, you feel that you have ownership of it. There is this basic sense of ownership, also we see how humans look at the world from their own perspective, and their desire to categorise this world. This egocentric approach of understanding the world and the basic human desires is related.
For a young artist in China, sometimes it is about fate. For example, after I graduated from Chengdu, I taught in the city for half a year, as I am originally from the Sichuan province. When I was teaching, life was very peaceful and stable. I was living very comfortably. Actually I had many ideas deep down my heart, but I did not have any desire to realise them. So I moved to Beijing, wanting to move to another living environment, because I think that my living environment and work are closely related. When art is no longer essential in your everyday life, then you may find that it is not necessary to make art. This is not to say that I must make art, but a pretty good thing to do. I was also thinking that at that time I was still quite young, it did not feel quite right.
I had this idea when I was very young that I wanted to be an artist. Firstly it allows me to distance myself from the city lifestyle. [Being an artist] is something that is unstable, and unforeseeable. You may never know what you will be next working on, and how well you would do it, or how your life would be related to your works. None of these you would know, and this is what I would prefer. I don’t necessarily know how things would turn out, or a lifestyle that is just like everyone else’s. If you close your eyes and think: I graduate, then I find an industry [to work in], then I find a job, and then step by step, then I might marry a classmate from the university, have a child, and then days passes by till my retirement, then grandchildren came along. Your life would basically look like that. Even though the details might vary, the path would is still the same. When I was young, I really did not want to live a life like that. I enjoyed the uncertainties of life, even though it might mean that my life is insecure. But I would be, because I wouldn’t know how my life will turn out.
I think that artists might be doing something for everyone else [in the society]. For the others, they work and live, each playing a different part in the society. They are very busy and tired. Artists become their (society’s) eyes, touch and even other senses. Artists would help them to understand even more possibilities, ways of understandin, and different angles to learn about the world. The world will become not as boring. [Viewing art] becomes a fulfilling experience, providing [the audience] different possibilities in sensing.
There are artists who might not be “successful”, but in some ways their works can affect many other artists, or after a long time while their works are brought up again, because of their importance and impact of those works. At that time, they might not seem to be successful. In terms of defining a “good” artist, one must understand that there are certain criteria for that. Everyone is certain of what is good or bad. But that standard can be flexible, and criteria are open-ended. When we describe what is good or bad, we have taken one step forward, making ourselves aware that there are other concerns and possibilities.
Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.
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