“the standard” of Chinese esthetics with the contemporary society Yangmian’s interview
Time: 8:47 pm on Mar. 2nd, 2006 Venue: Cantonese Restaurant on South Huajiadi St. Beijing Interviewer: Liwei and Hanweihua H: I have an art album of your former art works. As for the strength of itsinfluence and spread, the effect of art works in the professional living art exhibition is a far cry from that in the album. This is a very interesting album. Besides, it is very unique in the circle of the contemporaryart. I wonder this album at hand must be “the standard” of esthetics in YangMian’s eyes in 2003. Then what about in 2004? Now it is already 2006. How about your latest findings? Y: I have the habit of straightening out“the standard” of aesthetics brought up from the society in the coming year. Normally, I narrate itfor the last year. Today I’m going to narrate “the standard” of Chinese aesthetics for 2005 and accordingly to put forward some questions. H: May I know how long have you been doing like this? Y: Three years. H: However, the recent three years have been stormy and astounding even a little “abnormal”in Chinese art market Among the subtle changes on the aesthetics in the last three years, which one do you concern most? Y: However, I don’t think it is abnormal or weird among Chinese art market. On the contrary, I think it is extremely normal. And I hope it will become much better. The last three years or even earlier than that, Chinese was in the state of moving forward very quickly. But if moving forward is so fast that it might raise some problems in the society. Although we have good teachers in China, we don’t have good disciplines. If this cannot push the society moving stably, the rest of aspects in China are probably the same, so is the standard of esthetics. Take the standard of beauty as an example, what kind of appearance is for a girl to be the most beautiful in China? If the movie star named Linyu Ruan is a typical model in early 30’s in China, what about now? Y: I pointed out three things in one of my essays in 2003 that need more attention. First, it was obvious that we saw many movie stars from Kerea march into the product spokesman field of advertisement since 2003. Secondly, the economy of beauty played a significant role in Chinese economy in 2003 that is a year of the beauty contest. Third, the advertisement on many media was full of cosmetic surgeries at the end of 2003. At that time, if you were brave and rich enough, nothing can stop you from becoming beautiful. Where the problem of Chinese esthetic towards Chinese female lies? We’ve seen the changes of Chinese esthetics in these years, though. First, we adore international famous half-blooded movie stars such as Sophie Marsu and Phoebe Cathy for all their orient favor granted by god. They are very popular in China. Compared with their appearance, Chinese movie stars can never live up to that standard. Because our nose can never be as high as theirs; our double-fold eyelids can never be as deep as theirs; our eyes never as big as theirs, our lips never as sexy as theirs, our bubby never as plump as theirs and so on. Actually this is not fair if we compared them together. It is even very strange. It shows that the current Chinese esthetic I mentioned above has already gone far away fromour own genetically traditional standard. That is exactly where the problem lies. Why should our esthetic lean forward like that? We should think about it, I think. The artist has to rethink it, so do we. Therefore, I’d like to put my art works esp. into wherever the aesthetic standards go with Chinese standards. It may provoke those who share the same view on Chinese aesthetic standards to think. Every year we will review it once. This is why I held this exhibition and why I invited them in. Y: Nowadays, in the advent of the standard of esthetics I mentioned earlier, it is no doubt that the it has already had a huge impact on us since there are tens and thousands of cosmetic hospitals established in the name of Korean surgery technique. Almost all of the girls you meet on the street would like to go for the cosmetic surgery; at least they would like to do the double-folded eyelids. Nearly all women nowadays about forty years old have their eyebrows done in the beauty salon. I ever asked one girl about her feeling of her tattoo on her eyebrows. She told me that it really hurt while the needles repeatedly made circles on her eyebrows exactly like tailoring on the sartorial machine. However to get rid of the tattoo is much more painful than to put it on. Y: Cosmetic surgery makes every beauty looks the same like Korean. There is no difference at all. Their noses are the same since everybody picks the same model. However, we need to establish our own Chinese esthetic standard. We should have had more nose models like No. 2 nose or No. 3 and so forth. One of the function of the art aims to put forward your opinion on the issue of the current social esthetics and to help people rethink or discuss about “the standard” of esthetics and let it go back to be comparatively normal, esp. from the social meaning point of view, it is crucial. For instance, I’ve been doing this since 2003 by selecting 5 typical models as annual esthetic standard from the advertisement for people to discuss. I’m serious about it and I promise that I will keep doing it every year. When we look back on our art works or art album in 20 years, then we can see clearly that Chinese esthetics must be changed during the 20 years and “the standard” is uncertain and changeable in China. Perhaps young people follow Korean fashion this year then Thai fashion next year and will most likely change to Singapore fashion in the future. But when will they discover their true selves and follow their own true selves? As for Chinese girl, most of them traditionally think a beautiful girl must be white-skin-oriented since white skin can ignore the rest of defects. But don’t forget we are yellow race. My art works and the things I’d like to do must have something to do with the society, that is to say, contemporary art is, to some extent, the reflection of the current culture itself. H: Well, is it your cutting point? Y: Yes, you are to the point. L: The standard of Chinese esthetics changes obviously and it goes more specific in recent two years. But it makes no difference during the last three years. Your art seems to present in the state of being sweet by using the hue of light color. But a critic is behind the scene. Is it a critic in a sweet way? Is it required to show in that way from the “standard” sample itself or art itself? What leads to attract the attention of the society or the artists? Y: Now let’s talk about the meaning of art. It contains two aspects. One is the art towards the society and the current culture. Another is the art towards the art itself, that is, the history of the art. Y: One of the most important points in the contemporary art is the concept of the art, I think. One of the functions of our art is to drive forward the history of the fine art, even a little. Sometimes you have to doubt whether the art reflects the times or not when the art you represent has nothing to do with the society. For example, No steel no modern architecture, there never be. The modern art always goes hand in hand with modern industry, let alone the current culture. Today, does your artwork have to be shown as exciting as the society itself? Ok, let me give you an example. I read a report on an exhibition of American museum early on; Jeffrey’s big reviewing show called “The brilliance of fifty years”. Among them, there were a series of Jeffrey’s artwork. His neo-expressionism was truly exciting. Can you guess what would it be like in the next exhibition held by an American young man? Hundreds of people were eating pig’s inside in the hall. It was thrilling, wasn’t it? Eating pig’s inside is unacceptable in America, but it is acceptable in China. How different the norm of different societies is! When facing the current situation of our society, I have to represent my art in an acceptable way and put my opinion on that phenomenon in a critical way. H: You mean doing that here? in chengdu ? in China? Y: Exactly. You can see almost all of my artwork appears to be close to perfect and concrete. Everyone asked, “Who’s this? ” “Who’s that? ” They seemed to sound uncertainty. That’s just what I was trying to do so. I wonder who he might think it could be and why. All of them asked me the same question why I put that stroke on the picture? I answered it thousands of times. H: Why? That’s for labeling on your art? Y: Not at all. This is not a signal, nor a token. I’m thinking that one thing we need in our art is an access for the audience to get inside of your art and meanwhile for the artist himself to communicate withhis audience. At the moment, I’m more like a sponge to absorb their opinions. Instead of answering their questions one by one, I would like to kick the ball back to them by asking what he thinks it is. Some says that stroke is very exciting; perhaps others may think it as another stuff or something related to advertisement; the funniest answer of that stroke is to be thought as using a dagger to get what other people like most in a rude way. Ten thousands of people may have ten thousands of opinions. What my artwork matters is to get as many opinions as possible from my audience. At least there are a thousand of comments on it. That is what the contemporary art makes sense to the society. H: Then that is your original thoughts, right? Generally, the audience sees a style as your token through your way of dealing with the image of your picture or your concept you are trying to convey through your picture. No matter how the comments from audience are, good or bad. Anyway, the relationship between the audience and the artist is special. Y: Sure. It is easy for the audience to regard the contemporary art as stylism; so the contemporary art is tricking. L: The cover of this art album is tricking too. Y: The stylismis exclusive to the artist of the modernism. The stylismin the artwork of modernism means nothing today. Actually I don’t want my artwork to be very visualized. When I think I need a finishing touch in my art, there’s one in the picture. If not, there’s nothing in it. The important role this finishing touch plays is to provoke my audience to think what I want them to think. L: This is the process of how the stylismfades away in the contemporary art; and it is not the point today. Y: We often ask if the artwork is connected with the society when discussing about its significance. I wonder if I as an artist could use my special personal ability to contribute to the process of the construction of our society. If every artist thinks like this; if everybody in China thinks so. Our society will definitely make a huge progress. L: This is eveyone’s conscience and responsibility for the society. You, as an artist, found there was such a big issue brought to be concerned in your field. You are virtually putting forward a social question. H: As far as everybody knows, everything should start from one. If starting from 3 and 4 without one and two, it is obviously abrupt. Unlike China, the art history in the west was also blank about hundred years ago but still was formed systematically later on. Perhaps the other non-European countries might be the same. However, Chinese artists have a word to explain it: your artwork must be related to your society, which guides the artists grow up fast. What makes you have such a way of thinking? Did your education you got from the university influence you on the style of your artwork? Y: No, it didn’t. For me, education in the university is simply compulsory. It is very risky for a good artist not to teach. The reason I said that is simply because art education and art itself are combined into one. They are too close. No one could teach a good student if he doesn’t have a good concept on the art. Talking about the issue of being on-the-spot, to my understanding, on the spot in here refers to contemporary. What the contemporary is driving at? It is not the exhibition hall. In fact, it emphasizes the connection between the modern society and the art. H: Then it is formed during your study? Y: Oh, now I’m too old to study. H: In the early stage of your study, you must have a solid basic on the art. Y: It was very tiring when I studied in Contemporary Chinese art in the university. Before doing that, I must spend a very short time finishing the course that was supposed to be taken about 20 years in the west. In the very beginning, we can simply understand the art history through the text; no evidence at all. During that time, we have to digest what we’ve learned from the art history then define our own artwork. Some students decided to finish their own artwork that only related to the art history or Chinese art history after that. However, I found that there was few artworks in the art of modernism in Chinese art history. In addition, few artists chose this field. Although Academic thoughts on it are not intense, you cannot deny it. If I’ve never had such an experience, I refuse to accept it. That is another issue. You know there must have been the modernism to the present since it started from classicalism on the basis of academic frame. Some say no. Then you have to experience it by yourself through your own feelings. In fact, you have to know to how to deal with the relationship between the art history and the society and your own art. But before doing that, you have to take the following options into your consideration and you’d better integrate them all. What kind of artwork are you trying to make? What makes sense to your artwork? What’s the meaning to the art history? H: I can tell easily from your work that you are very sensitive to the contemporary critics. From the shape of the 90’s architecture your comments on, it becomes a popular topic as everybody talking about the shape of the Chinese building just like a person often put his hat on. And I found it is just presented in your painting, I wonder it must be your speculation existing along in your artwork. Y: Yes, it is. Sometimes we are over-simplified. For example, a house in ministry of communications needs to be in a Chinese style. What would the Chinese style of building be like? Is a Romanesquebuilding with a big roof very Chinese? Definitely not. Early on the 30’s we’ve seen lots of houses like that. Even now we can still see the buildings with grey bricks in Sichuan University. They look very simple. It is a mixture ofGothicwindows andRomanesquepillars together with Chinese grey bricks and tiles. Why I said it over-simplified partly because we didn’t build our traditional Chinese essence into it. Neither did Chinese esthetics. It seems that Chinese esthetics feel like being classical. One of the features of classicism is being perfect. On the whole, Chinese society always expects to be perfect and thinks perfection is beauty and vice versa. H: Is it a matter of education? L: The definition of being classical is to respect the classical art and learns the traditional methods. To my understanding, being classical means it cannot innovate. If someone thinks one thing is beautiful, then he just put it together with something else without doing anything new. As a matter of fact, not being classical is a reverse of being classical, that is called rebel. Why don’t we think of a better way of engrafting to make a good bunch of flowers by ourselves? Y: We may think it beautiful at the beginning when we bought the house. Then we may not like it any longer later. This is due to the lack of Chinese esthetics. Furthermore, nobody guides us to go through the history of Chinese esthetics. We don’t know what would the contemporary esthetics be like. The answer to this question is beauty of having a property right of knowledge. H: To sum up, it is the direction of education that counts. L: So does the society. Y: This is the whole process of social learning in which our education is more like a small bunch of flower found in a huge nursery garden. What is on earth the education relevant to the esthetics here? In the broad sense, Chinese esthetics is lack of democracy. Let us narrow down simply to the layer of spirit, I think, Chinese artists should be more practical and provable, which may have a big effect on the society. Why is everything including TV program shown in a text way very important in China? Our daily life is always in the state of the text. Even the TV program we watch is processed not alive. So is education. We never prove the information we get that is true before we take it for our knowledge. That’s why I often ask who he is and what you think he is on my advertisement. You know what, all advertising has been done in the studio before it is on TV. Nobody in real life could be as perfect as one on TV advertisement. And he will never be. If we use advertisement as our standard when buying cosmetic products, we will never be satisfied. Like a flower in a huge garden I took as an example, we always focus on a small flower, make it bigger and think the rest of flowers the same in the huge garden. That small point is exaggerated to cover up the facet. Text is so focused in China that it does harmful for us. I think, there is one important reason. Because there aren’t any concrete objects displayed esp. for the history of Chinese civilization in the museum or in the exhibition. What impressed me most is that there is a Germany museum in Mulihei where there are lots of stuff like planes, ships and cars. Everything there is anatomical. You can clearly see what the whole process of making cars looks like. If you need a trademark of Benz, you can get it simply by pressing a button. H: The whole process? Y: Yeah, exactly. The trademark of Benz will be in your hand with one coin. What if we had such a museum when we studied Chemistry and Physics in high school? We would just go and study while we had fun. But the truth is it takes us nine years to learn the theory only. The way of our education is in the text way. In other words, it is mechanical memorizing. H: Examination-oriented? Y: I call it text-oriented. It is in a text way and needs to be recited mechanically. But where are you going to prove it without any text. H: What about yourself in the school? Y: There’s no exception for me. I did well when I was in school because I spent a lot of time memorizing. Now I’m a teacher. I told my students that don’t follow suit as we did in the past. If they spend all their time on finishing their homework, they will definitely get nowhere. But if they have broad interests, they can go for any interests they like in their spare time. Then they can have that knowledge in store for any trade they would like to get involved in the future. L: Did it have anything to do with your experience in that museum? H: Although there are a comparatively big proportion of successful artists in Sichuan University of Fine Art. Few artists become famous in the end. My question is what brought you to the stage of being successful and how? Y: Well. I don’t think I make a hit though. H: In the eyes of bystanders, of course, you are. Y: Ok, I have to admit that I’ve been working so hard to be an interesting artist and to make my art meaningful and driving for both the art history and the society if possible. There is still a long way to go, but I won’t give up. H: Setting a goal is very good when you are in school, isn’t it? Y: Certainly. Sichuan artists, to some extent, can always succeed in others’ eyes. If I belong to one of that group also in others’ eyes, I have to say there is a good art tradition in Sichuan. So is the contemporary art in Sichuan. All the artists are both friends and competitors at the same time. H: It seems that this standard is much higher. Y: Yes. Just because of both friends and competitors, we will spare some time together. Although everyone is doing his own art, he won’t be alone on the way to pursue his art. Because there are many people like you standing aside with you to support and in the meanwhile to compete. H: Who influenced you most in the course of your study? Y: I went to university a little bit late. At that time, I was 23 years old. Actually many teachers and I are of an age. L: I knew it was very hard for one to go to Sichuan University of Fine Arts in those days. Y: I was so lucky that I started to rub shoulders with young teachers such as Xiaogang, Yesuai and Wanglin at the end of 1993. Also, they are the most interesting artists in the university. Moreover, Chinese contemporary art began to be active and was in a multiple history era at that moment. H: What brought you to be with them? Y: My dedication to pursue the art, I suppose. Other than that, they are always willing to help the young to grow up since we were in school. When the contemporary art had a turn for the better, Zhangxiaotao, Liaoyibai and I held a show called “Personal Experience” on purpose to go against another show “Chinese Experience” designed by Wanlin together with many prestigious artists like Xiaogang, Yesuai etc. At that time, we were in our twenties and they were in their forties. The show did matter to me. On one hand, it realized one of my dreams of doing an art show. On the other, it untied a knot of my personal emotion on an unforgettable time. Then I gave that artwork a name “The Sacrifice of Water lily” referring to the death offer a sacrifice towards beautiful life. It was a hit at that time. H: Was it an important show in the university at the time? Y: Yes, it sure was. Since then, I started to do more new things. H: It indicated that you started to convert the theory to forming your own art, I bet. During that time, Xiaotao and you were much closer, weren’t you? Y: We are good friends and we are close. I started to pay close attention to tradition at the time. H: What led to your change? Was it a word, a conversation or something? L: An art methodology, at that time, we all agreed that one should first solve his own problem by his artwork and then solve the problems for the society. As it said, my friends were happy for me because I did first solve my personal problem through my artwork. And then, it must be much easier for me to face the current Chinese culture and to do whatever art, I think, it is more meaningful for the society. There’s not personal emotion put in the art any longer. H: When did it start for someone like you? Y: In 1997. H: There must be a big gap between classicism and contemporary art, right? Y: Right. I remember there was an artwork that compared the tradition with the present earlier in 1996; the painting at that time was relatively bright and gorgeous. Besides, Chinese advertisement industry was not fully developed. Therefore it was not easy for us to get information or resource to do the advertisement. H: If my memory serves, the bright-colored painting was not the main stream in 1996. If your painting had a tendency to be like that, it must be considered vulgar. Y: Yeah. Someone made fun of my work by judging it as vulgarity. But I said that my work was neither gorgeous nor vulgar. It was elegant instead. In fact, I did an artwork of graduation in 1998. In that artwork, I tried to compare living reflection in traditional culture with that in modern culture. The idea was originally from Zhoufang’s “The lady with her hair clasps” in Tang Dynasty, in which it reflected the angle of the nobleman’s life in Changan road. In order to finish my graduation artwork, I took a lot of girls’ photos in Chongqing. And at that time, the contemporary art emerged on. It was the right time I did my artwork and meanwhile I was very pleased to meet Harrison. All of a sudden, I as a student had done pieces of artwork, I think, good to be shown. And I, together with Xienanxing and Zhoutiehai, were lucky enough to get the award for No. 1 contemporary art and comments on our art. The award was only given to those who were under 35 years old. H: Now you became popular than ever before. Y: Well, three of us have clear direction of the art. But we are different. H: Each of you has different and independent thinking. Y: Yes, indeed. Some are trying to solve international problem; some are more pure academic; some care about the history of fine arts. However, what I care is to solve the Chinese problem. Three of us set the different goals. We’ve been doing that and will continue it on. H: Your painting reflects the real you - your delicate appearance with your critical way of thinking and talking. It seems right that painting is consistent with the artist himself. Since one always reflects his recognition of the society through his painting. Y: I don’t care about the result. What an artist should do is to run after his art with a lot more freedom and hardworking. H: It has a clue from the painting “charming the standard” that your major is in oil painting. On the whole, it was good. But for some reason, the portrait in the painting is not good. What’s for? Why was it like an examinee’s painting? Y: I myself am analyzing it while we are talking. Now I would like to bring forward a question of image painting. I personally think, the academic direction of image painting applies itself to the vague limit between image and painting. What’s the definition of image? Image art uses an image language, a shot language and a video language creating independent and flowing spaces. H: Bring out a false image? Y: However, painting uses a painting language to complete the component reality in which there are many ways of language to solve the problems of the composition, the component and the image if it is a concrete art. But In my accomplished paintings, I hide the elements and skills of painting as much as possible to produce the space language of painting. I use two dimensional painting skill to create the uncertainty of space. H: Is it the choice of your language? Y: Yes. H: What’s your skill in painting? Y: As I mentioned the above, I try to hide the elements and skills of painting as much as possible to produce the space language of painting. This is the academic direction of my art. I use two dimensional painting skills to create the uncertainty of space. That’s why any kind of composition of a picture in my painting is possible. H: Then you just compose your painting go as you pleased. Y: Yeah. Any kind of composition of a picture is fine with me. H: Well, how about the text style? Y: Of course, the text style is not like that. But for myself, I can do whatever I like to do in my paintings; even I can simply draw one hand in it. L: My first impression of your artwork is a series of portrait I called. You must ask why I have the feeling like this. For there were many artists taking up with this portrait by showing their own concept. As far as I know, the source of portrait comes from image. And I found yours looked different, which might give critics some fresh idea. Y: Actually I’d like to compare notes with critics about academic issue. However, everybody should be interested in the issue we are going to discuss. Now it seems hard to have so many people all together to discuss. You know, people in the academic discussion are elite in the art market. They can see through all of your tricks. Then what are we going to do? Do it in a bright way, of course. People might think so. But no one will speak it out publicly. There is one thing that needs to be clarified; it would be very shallow and terrible if someone confuses the artist of information with the artist of image. Image painting is not that shallow at all. L: Nowadays, making the edge effect of a painting less clear and blurred catches on. Do you ever have intention to keep your artwork distance from it? Y: In the pursuit of individualizing my own art is of utmost importance. I’ve been doing it since 1997. So has everybody else. The reason everybody does so is because early in 1997 the edge effect of a painting is not smooth at all. L: It seems that the art style in the art market like yours is prevailing in this year. Y: Also in 1997, many people drew advertisement and signboard. Most of them don’t know what’s the link between advertisement and painting. They simply regarded drawing advertisement as a job not a pure art. Let me ask you, what do you think of a linkage Andy’s artwork with the print of his artwork? Andy’s artwork is an academic issue, however, his print is a commercial issue. L: The style of your artwork upon your graduation is like that. Y: Yes. L: The style of art had already been shown by Wangguangyi and Liuwei earlier in 1997. What inspired them at that time? How do you think? Was it from mass media? Was it from pop art? Furthermore, what do you think the link between mass media and pop art? Y: To be frankly, the style of Wangguangyi’s artwork was ripe at that time. You can strongly feel pop art there. So was Hamilton’s. But at that time what they cared much about was the state of their own spirit, what’s going on there in their daily life, what’s happening and what’s about to happen on the big change of the phenomenon of the culture. It was the new explanation of history itself. However, we are not. I’m not going to comment anything critically here. What I’m trying to convey is that we should care about the thing happened right there right now. Talking about the history is historian’s job. I didn’t mean being a historian is not good. Historian does make a contribution to our society. But my point here is to let you know what kind of artist you are going to decide to be. L: It is the process of exploring and asking yourself for. Y: Keep on exploring it! L: Did you publish your artwork when you were in the university? Y: Yes, I did. And I got the award of No. 1 Chinese Contemporary Art. L: It is said that you cannot get any high marks or even graduate if you don’t follow your teacher’s teaching system in some colleges of Chinese University of Fine Arts. Isn’t it? Y: As I went to university a little late, Wangdatong, of my age, was our teacher. We spent a lot of time together chatting and eating. We became friends. The things went well when I was a student. L: Wangdatong, his work “shine after raining” was your tutor for your artwork on your graduation. H: Is he the teacher who has become very famous during the Cultural Revolution? L: Yes. It’s him. He named his artwork as “shine after raining” relevant to the Cultural Revolution. At that time, Gang of four was collapsed. If you were in Chinese University of Fine Arts at that critical time, you would do whatever your teachers told you to do. H: Fortunately, I was in Sichuan University of Fine Arts. One out of eight big universities in China, Sichuan University of Fine Arts is exceptional. Teachers there are allowed not to follow the route that was supposed to go. Moreover, they can even “make a mess of ” their artwork. L: The students in Guangzhou University of Fine Arts are totally different from each other. One student one way of painting. No style, no tradition at all. But their teachers’ recommendation played an important role upon their graduation. Y: The relationship between the artists in Sichuan is like friends. We appreciate each other; we encourage each other and we compete each other. L: Now almost no one in Sichuan University of Fine Art does like that. H: That is too hard to be like that. Ok, let’s go to another simple question. Did you drawing the painting by hand or by slide? Y: By slide. There’s no shadow in my painting. Anyway, the component is not the academic direction of my art H: You must paint most of time by hand in the past. Y: Most of them are done by slide since 1999. Y: Painting by slide is more flexible. You can do as you like. If you want to transform something in the picture, you can. You might as well keep it in a former way if the result is not good. H: What if the others also choose the same resource of image and do the same through computer? Y: First, it won’t happen. Secondly, don’t be afraid even if it does happen. From the art point of view, everybody could do it. It only matters who creates the value of the art. H: Yeah, that’s true. Would it be a pity if you gradually give up the way of painting by hand you used to take in your university? Some people might ask. Y: I won’t give it up. As I mentioned earlier, I just cover it up. Did your tutor have any special requirement of your graduation artwork? What should it be like? H: It is only required that we need to create the art value ofour own. L: Is it? Y: Yes. We are never asked to draw what we should draw. L: Had you ever held a big exhibition when you were in school? Y: I only had it once. But it is not a big exhibition. H: When did you start your style of art? Was it in 1997? Y: It was long time ago. But it becomes more and more apparent now. H: There must be a direction that guides you to go through your opinion. Y: What really hurts is because normally you cannot reach “the standard” of beauty. H: Is this your original thought? Y: Yes. Visually I use two dimensional painting skill to create two layers of space; a background is behind. I also draw the graphic painting of the construction. H: This is called “reverse-painting”. Basically no one knows how to do it. Y: We can define the art widely. H: Now the society is changing and expanding and more tolerant. However, if it was seven or eight years earlier from now or went back to the times of impressionism, painting by slide is not regarded as pure art. Y: It is evident that the society is changing that to regard someone selling eggs as “a businessman” in 1980’s. But they are now only called “vendor”. L: When was your first time to participate in an important big show? Y: The first one? L: Yes. Did it have a significant impact on your future? Y: My first personal show was in Chengdu Art Museum in 1997 and meanwhile it was also a special show “personality series in the urban” designed by Wanlin. There was another show “Personal Experience” made by me and other two classmates before graduation, which is very important to me. L: When did you start to sell your artwork? Y: The first time was in 1998. My biggest picture about 220*70cm*9 size sold USD 6300. L: Wow! It’s a big deal, huh? Y: I told them that I was awarded the Chinese contemporary art in 1998 and I had a pleasure to meet and chat with Harrison Simon who had ever written for a few contemporary artists including me. One year later, I began to collaborate with Chinese Art Gallery. L: What about your graphic painting of architecture? Y: I started it in 2000. L: So is your portrait painting, right? Y: Yes. L: You started your portrait painting when you graduate? Y: Sure. L: Continue it on till now? Y: Since then, my art became more and more flexible. H: Most of your artwork is shown in two-dimensional way. What’s next in the future? Y: I will keep it on until one day I think “the standard ’of Chinese aesthetics becomes normal. I often told my collectors to collect one for each year on a series if they have an eye for art. H: Every stage? Y: Sure. One for every stage. All his collection would be the mirror of the changing of Chinese esthetics history. It must be very interesting esp. for those who want to have an art museum. L: Ok, let’s revert to the art market. You know, there are many channels to support artists like media, art gallery etc. in the art market. Which one do you prefer, art gallery and auctioneer in China or abroad? Y: I’m in favor of doing whatever we could do to improve the system of Chinese art market. In the past, most of our artwork had been sold to abroad. Basically those overseas collectors won’t sell them out again. From this point of view, it is a good phenomenon. But it is also not a good phenomenon. Why? You must ask. It is because there are few sold in china. The things changed last year, though. But it is still a big issue in China. It is big but more importantly, what we can do now is to catch more Chinese people’s eyes by our contemporary artwork and to let them realize how important contemporary art is for now. Only contemporary art can pave the way to international art market. L: In terms of the function and the influence of collection either in China or abroad, what’s the difference between them and which one is bigger and more important in your mind? Y: Compared with Chinese collectors, overseas collectors pay more serious attention to the value judgment of the artwork and they have a liking for contemporary art plus Chinese culture when they buy it. However, as for a good Chinese collector, they are very ambitious that they hope what they collect can make a difference towards the Chinese art and push it ahead. Therefore, we hope more and more Chinese collectors can undertake their responsibilities to set up a better system for our Chinese contemporary art. After all, only Chinese ourselves can push on our own art and culture. But now we still lag far behind. H: If China is like America, anything related to paper or text that is thought to be a good thing in China must be rising. Y: Since there is a lot of fake artwork in the market, it is essential for us to do is to improve the system esp. for the procedures of identification. H: Which art gallery has a closer collaborating relationship with you? Y: It was Shangart before. H: Was it the same one with Zhoutiehai? Y: Yeah. I think they did a good job. H: Are you going through the Chinese esthetics for 2006 now? Y: No. It is for 2005. H: Does it make any sense if the standard of Chinese esthetics you put a question to is not taken seriously in the society or cannot be solved in the society? Y: Even if I know many problems cannot be solved. But I think raising a question like that for the artist is a matter of their attitude towards the art as well as the culture itself. Actually it is also a question of sociology that needs everybody to solve it all together. As for myself, I don’t have any personal problems. The reason I did that is because I want more and more people to realize the truth. Maybe others can have their ways of doing that. H: Which part of your artwork, do you think, attracts your audience? Are they more interested in the painting itself or anything else? Y: From collectors’ angle, I think my artwork is exceptional and unique. You know what, it is very hard for an artist to make a breakthrough today in such a good Chinese art history; even it is small though. One collection stands for one period and so artist makes art history more colorful. The current artwork is just an art phenomenon, but who knows, maybe it would win a place in the art history. However, from the ordinary’s angle, it has nothing to with the art history. Perhaps he identifies with your value of academics and society. Or your question makes sense to him. Then he bought it. Anyhow, there might be many other reasons for them to buy your artwork.