Xing Wanli 邢万里: Shape Of Memory

Xing Wanli 邢万里

Artwork’s Title: Shape of Memory

Materials Used: Oil paints

Studio Based: Chengdu,China

Xing Wanli, Shape of Memory, oil on paper, 38 × 54 cm, 2020

Can you tell us about the process of making your work?

Usually I draw many pictures at the same time and have them done almost at the same time. The advantage of this is that they are different paintings but in some ways they are related. I’m used to using the medium of oil painting to do my work on paper. The oil on the paper is very fluid and dries faster than linen, so I can make some adjustments to the frame in a short time.

Sometimes I will choose a picture as a reference and express my intention by doing some deformation on it, and sometimes I will draw something from my memory without relying on any image.

How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?

Variable, Liquid, Slow.

How did you come up with this new painting idea? Is there any story behind this work?

My latest paintings were inspired by Haruki Murakami’s novel “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.” This is a very interesting novel, keep reading will keep me alive to a certain extent in life and painting. Of course, more or less my personal ideas are involved in it. In short, the current state is like a grinder, a lot of things will be thrown into it, and I am not sure what will be drawn eventually, but many new ideas will emerge in the process.

Do specific artworks have been created by random experiments in your studio or do you always come up with a particular concept or narrative in the very beginning?

I have a vague idea in my head before I start drawing, but I rarely do some sketches, I like the feeling of making mistakes on the paper. By doing this, I try to avoid the inertia of the painting process.

Is there any particular theme that utterly triggers you to engage your art with?

I think there are three points that can help me with my painting creation. The first one is through reading some literary works, which to some extent are the source of my imagination. The second is to use a lot of pictures that I collect on the Internet, which will give me some very interesting ideas. The third one is my memory, which is abstract. Every time I want to recall something or someone, it is always vague, and it is this vague state that provides me with the opportunity and courage to make mistakes in painting. I am not a person who likes to pursue refinement and perfectionism.

Large or small scale canvases dilemma; are there any kind of standards that drive you to decide which surface length is better fitted for your final painting visualisations?

Most of my paintings are not very large, so I paint several at once, which ensures some connection between them. Once in a while, I try to draw on a larger scale, which is certainly a big challenge for me. It can take months of constant adjustments and changes on paper or canvas. It’s also a long process of self-examination.

What would be the best way to exhibit your work?

I have been trying to better display some of my works in some venues. In my previous exhibitions, I will use a variety of materials to integrate my works, so as to achieve a unique atmosphere that I want to reflect. The exhibition mode will change as the subject of my painting changes.

Can you mention any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?

Luc Tuymans and Francis Bacon are the two artists that I pay close attention to recently. Although their paintings seem to be very different from each other, they have their own perception and attainments on the application and processing methods of images in painting. In addition, I was very impressed by El Greco. I like the special light that emanates from his works.

Do you ever wonder if additional work was needed, when an artwork’s making process is finished?

I am not sure when a work will be finished. Sometimes I will finish a painting in a relaxed state. Sometimes I will be very upset when I don’t know how to proceed.I can only put them in a corner and take them out again in a few days or months. But for some paintings, the longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to repaint them, which is something I’ve had to deal with recently.

What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space look like?

A large area of my home is my studio, which is more convenient for me to work.

What does your mum think about your art?

My mother told me to stop drawing in such dark colors. She probably likes bright and pretty colors

Which exhibition did you visit last?

Due to the outbreak, I only participated in one group exhibition in Xi ‘an, China, last year, and some exhibitions may have to be postponed until the second half of 2021.

Which are your plans for the near future?

Keep reading, keep good mood, keep the passion for life, continue my painting creation.

Additional Paintings

Xing Wanli, Sputnik Sweetheart, oil on paper, 38 × 54 cm, 2019
Xing Wanli, Red elf, oil on paper, 79 ×110 cm, 2019, 复件
Xing Wanli, Seed, oil on paper,38×54cm, 2018, 复件


All images are courtesy of the artist

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