Artwork’s Tittle: Blue Ribbon
Material Used: Oil on linel
Studio Based: Liverpool, UK
Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
The characters in my paintings derives from myself. My painting process is, I first imagine the character, then I take a picture of myself with the pose I want. After that, I draw a sketch on paper before I work on canvas. I’m inspired by my childhood memories living in the rural southern China, where tropical plants grow and all kinds of wild animals live. The core of my works comes from a game I used to play as a child. In the games, me and my friends would play different roles with different identities, such as a doctor, a lumberjack, a snake catcher, a father etc. These roles with different identities are the main elements in my work. I am hoping that through painting, I can continue this game.
How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?
Memory, Identity, Connection.
Could you share with us some insights on your painting diptych ‘Blue Ribbon’, (2022)? Is there any particular story behind this new work?
There isn’t much story behind this painting. I paint simply through my memory. I remember a game I used to play when I was a child. In English it is called Cat’s Cradle. So two people use a string to form different shapes, each building on the last. This game is just where The Blue Ribbon starts. The Blue Ribbon is also something else in my memory, a gift wrapping ribbon, a bookmark in a diary. I think what matters is what is on the other side of the ribbon. Everyone has a different answer.
Visually, there is a strong repetition of ribbons on your canvases; where does this fascination with this piece come from?
The ribbon here can be understood as rope. In the place and the time I lived during childhood, rope was a very important item. Many things in our daily life needed to be tied and fixed with rope, we would make our own rope too; therefore it was a necessity at that time. Though the rope is very often seen in my paintings, my real intention is not really about rope itself, but to imagine the invisible thing that is tied to the other side of the rope.
Male figures seem to dominate your body work; is it a current motif or is there any particular reason for concentrating on male representation on your canvases?
The male figures in my paintings are based on myself. On the one hand, my paintings is an expression of MY world. On the other hand, my body and my pose are the most accessible material for me to use.
Do specific artworks have been created by random experiments in your studio or do you usually come up with a particular concept or narrative in the very beginning of your artistic process?
Play House is the framework of my painting theme, I usually use myself as the medium to play myself as different professions and identities, these people usually come from people I know in my memory, when the framework and roles are available I can start to build the painting content.
What would be the best way to exhibit your work?
All I need for my work is a white wall.
Can you mention any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?
Balthus. Rousseau. Caravaggio. Piero Della Francesca.
What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space look like?
My studio is located in a Victorian building in the centre of Liverpool, England. My working space is about 55 square meters, with a vaulted ceiling and large windows. This is my first studio in the UK, it is also the studio I have always imagined. It has made it easier for me to paint and create.
Which are your plans for the near future?
With a solo show coming up in London, I will also attend two art fairs, two art residencies and two solo shows in 2023.
All images courtesy of the artist