Shifo Art Community Annual Exhibition 2018
May 19 - June 19, 2018
Shifi Art Comumunity Gallery, Zhengzhou, CN
After twelve years of precipitation and nirvana, in 2015 the new gallery of Shifu Art Commune was opened, in 2016 the “heritage” was forged ahead, and in 2017 the annual exhibition was “full of spring colours”. 2018 is the new beginning of Shifu Art Commune’s pursuit of dreams and blossoming. The only way to live up to this beautiful time is to bloom hard!
In a sense, the Shifo Art Commune Annual Exhibition is a bridge for Shifo artists to communicate internationally, and it will prepare and pave the way for the Shifo International Art Conference. With the completion of the campus, the Shifo Art Commune will take on a new attitude to welcome the new art tide.
The 2018 Shifo Art Commune Annual Exhibition selects a wider range of works: installation, video, sculpture, mixed media, as well as oil, Chinese painting and watercolour, aiming to present a more comprehensive picture of the artist’s creative state in the past year. The exhibition is a microcosmic record of one’s travels to other countries, as well as an individual view of the outside world.
|19 May 2018 – 19 Jun 2018
|Shifo Art Community Gallery
Shifo Art Community Gallery
Science Avenue 1
The Enigmatic Reality Cross-section: On Li Feng's Artistic Practice
Li Feng pieces together glimpses and ambiguous cross-sections of reality, using a visually complex and multi-layered language that invokes both truth and illusion to delve deep into forbidden territory.
In Li Feng's dying moments and within restricted settings, opposing forces engage in a dangerous and mysterious negotiation. For tempting objects, he uses stern compositions in an attempt to suppress the information that incites desire, delaying the pleasure of recognition and exploring paths of divergence.
Li Feng's practice is a tireless pursuit of the self. His pursuit of observation is transformed into a dimension of de-visualization, and from the naked meaning, it rises to its own questioning. He elevates invisible thinking to the dimension of existence, magnifying or reducing everyday objects, sometimes revealing secrets, sometimes keeping them secret, even decoding the invisible in a candid and almost brutal way, reflecting strong absurdity. These images leave the audience confused, fascinated, and restless, sinking into psychological reflection as they watch. As they enter his various patterns, they have no choice but to allow the self to occupy their body and mind again and again.Author: Lin Jiangquan Read More
CAI / A Conversation with Li Feng: Poetry, Painting & Kaleidoscopic Perspectives / June 2023
The Chinese contemporary painter and poet Li Feng is best known for his enigmatic and versatile works on canvas, examining life’s everyday, language, and poetic ironies with acryl, oil, color powder, and other mixed media techniques. Born in 1969 in Jilin, China, and currently working and residing in Henan, China, Li Feng’s oeuvre seems to culminate to new heights over the past decade, adding even more color to his illustrious career—in China and abroad. As a result, today, we have the honor and pleasure of conversing with the Chinese artist, discussing his journey toward artistry, the correlations between poetry and visual art, and his latest series of works. Welcome to our conversation with Li Feng.[URIS id=2670] JD: Dear Li Feng, what a pleasure to have you for an interview with CAI. How have you been? LF: Dear Julien Delagrange, I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to be featured in CAI’s interview. I am delighted to share that things have been progressing splendidly lately, mirroring the bright and sunny weather I am experiencing this morning. JD: Before we start dissecting your oeuvre and the latest series of works, I would like to discuss your background and education. What was your road toward artistry, and how did you become the artist you are today? LF: I was born in a northern town in China, and when I turned one year old, my family embarked on a journey toward the southern inland provinces. Throughout this process, we experienced endless relocations, like an ever-flowing river. However, upon reaching the flat terrain of the temperate region in central China, with its distinct four seasons, I finally settled down and ceased following my parents further south. Compared to the stability of people rooted in one place, the transient and uncertain lifestyle during my early years offered a greater abundance of vivid and dynamic experiences. But with the positives also came challenges, particularly in receiving formal education during my younger years. Fortunately, everything gradually rationally fell into place. After graduating from high school, I was admitted to the university, where I pursued a major in Fine Arts. The sole reason for choosing to be an artist was love—an indescribable love that cannot be substituted by anything else. In my artistic exploration and practice, I found a profound appreciation for works that touch the hearts and souls of people, resonating with their inner essence. Indeed, I deviated early on from the conventional teachings of art education in school and embraced an open-minded approach, welcoming the vast world with open arms. JD: As our audience is predominantly from the Western World, could you talk us through the symbiosis between Chinese culture and Western art history as inspiration for your artistic practice? LF: On one hand, China has been predominantly an imperial state throughout its history. However, it is not as conservative and closed-off as people perceive it. The geographical barriers, such as the vast mountain ranges in the northwest and the southeastern sea, naturally isolated it from cultural, commercial, and even military interactions with the West. However, the establishment of the overland and maritime “Silk Roads” demonstrated the ancient Chinese people’s inherent imagination of distant lands in the Middle East and the Western world. In ancient China, the book “Shan Hai Jing” was born, which showcased mysterious writings and narrated a unique understanding of the entire world from a broad global view perspective. Similarly, in “Tao Te Ching,” Lao Tzu presented a discourse from the cosmic level, discussing the understanding and contemplation of the natural generation and the essence of humanity’s logical thinking. Numerous cave paintings in China depict interactions between China and India, the Middle East and the West. On the other hand, because I couldn’t accept the oversimplified conceptualization of Western history and culture taught in textbooks, I have privately been studying reliable books on European cultural history written by Western scholars, such as “The World of Yesterday” by Austrian scholar Stefan Zweig. It is a memoir by a European, covering Europe’s cultural and political aspects from before World War I to the entire period of World War II. Undoubtedly, the interaction and development of Eastern and Western civilizations were predominantly driven by the expansion of commercial civilization, particularly in the modern and contemporary era. However, it is necessary to emphasize that the concept of East and West is primarily political and not limited to a specific geographical region. Personally, I do not fully agree with the notion of East and West. I believe that the world is inherently unified. The practice of my artistic creation is based on this foundation as I attempt to find and construct my own identity through different stages. JD: Besides being a painter, you are also a poet. Could you please expand on your poetry and how it relates to your practice as an artist? LF: After graduating from university, I moved away from home to work in another province. During that time, I began experimenting with poetry writing, a textual art form, separated from painting but suited me better. The essence between poetry writing and painting is connected. It provided me with an additional means of artistic expression. The only frustration I had after the publication of my personal poetry collection, ” Injured Apple,” in 2006 (first edition) was the issue of English translation for poetry (as I always believed that poetry is untranslatable). However, the advancements in high technology now give me hope. JD: Would you say painting and poetry are natural allies? What correlations between both are most powerful for you? LF: Actually, I don’t believe that painting and poetry are allies. They are merely neighbors. In addition, painting doesn’t require translation, while there is a natural and significant gap between words. The only connection between them is that both painting and poetry are universal languages. JD: Your artistic practice as a painter is marked by strong stylistic heterogeneity. Earlier at CAI, we referred to your work as a natural adept or disciple of Sigmar Polke, using a vast array of symbols and various techniques. What is your perspective on your ongoing quest for new subjects, new techniques, and new series of works? LF: An object has a thousand faces, and I have tried to present different expressions through observations from different perspectives. Each stage has produced different series of works, but I will filter these exploratory results through contemplation and select the ones that are more suitable for my path. JD: Beyond the visual surface, your work discusses everyday objects, has a soft spot for the use of language in painting, and seems to be marked by introspection and an existential view of life in general. What is the starting point for your pictures, and how does it become an image? Is it a very premeditated creative process or rather intuitive? LF: Every time I enter a state of creation, it is often because a point has stimulated my brain and nerves; of course, intuition comes first. However, more than intuition and passion is needed. JD: Two important and simultaneous ongoing series are Condense the Known (2015-2022) and B Movie (2014-2023). Could you please talk us through both series? LF: The two series are derived from a unified creation, both belonging to works where pure painting takes the dominant role: one is passionate and exuberant, while the other is calm and condensed. As artists age, their perspective on things may mature, and their artistic style may lean towards minimalism. The Condense the Known part exhibits a design element reminiscent of an instruction manual and is generally smaller in size. The B Movie series, on the other hand, carries my innate passion for the world and a profound fascination with human nature. JD: What is the relation between both series? In what way are they different or similar? LF: There are apparent differences between them, but both series are my expressions of emotions towards things at the micro and macro levels. To give an analogy, one is like poetry, and the other is like haiku (short-form poetry initially from Japan). JD: You have had some great successes throughout your career, especially in your home country. What exhibitions, or even single works, are you—in hindsight—most proud of? LF: I used to feel proud of being selected for certain exhibitions, but that’s not the case anymore. Among all my works, however, there are a few that I feel satisfied with and cherish, such as “The Adventure Journey.” It was the first piece I created after fully recovering from a foot injury as if it was a concentrated release of energy accumulated over several months. JD: Besides being an artist and poet, you have also worked as a teacher, curator, and artistic director. In what way does it affect your artistic practice or inspire you? LF: Teaching work, to be precise, suits me better. Some of the inspiration for my poetry comes from this part of my life. Engaging in curatorial work as a part-time job in society has given me a particular relationship with others and society, which is like a bridge. As for being an artistic director, it allows me to view and observe the works of other artists from an objective perspective. This is highly inspiring for me to re-evaluate my artistic path. JD: To conclude, what may we expect next? LF: This year, I would love to collaborate with my friends from Shanghai to hold a group exhibition in Zhengzhou featuring both painters and sculptors. Next year, I plan to have solo shows in both Zhengzhou and Hong Kong. Meanwhile, I am also continuously exploring the art world in the West. I get to admit that the atmosphere and the level of professionalism among peers in European art still command my admiration. I am thus full of anticipation for the future! JD: Thank you so much for an utmost exciting conversation. CAI will continue to follow you closely; hopefully, our paths will cross again in the foreseeable future. LF: You’re very welcome. In life’s journey, one can live with hope and engage in meaningful activities alongside like-minded individuals, fostering collaboration. I also wish the best for you and CAI. Read More
Xipi · Character / A coversion with Li Feng / December 2014
XIPI · CHARACTER - LI FENG
Xipi Editor: Your works predominantly employ abstract symbol representation. Could you please talk about the evolution of your creative process from the concrete to the abstract?
LF: It cannot be denied that there is always a kind of person: they have friends, but they still feel very lonely deep inside. Even if they have a partner, or even get married... I feel that is a dilemma in my life. There is a part of me that I cannot share with others. Every day, I must have a period of time that belongs to myself, whether it's smoking, daydreaming, or a combination of both. In my mind, I let my imagination run wild, encompassing art, literature, and of course, sensuality. Focused yet pure, never far from fantasy.
When I was young, I constantly followed my parents, moving, wandering, and trekking. I didn't receive the kind of confined education that is prevalent today. My inner self is sensitive yet wild. While sitting obediently in a room, my mind flies outside, curious, restless, and uneasy! From realism to impressionism, from post-impressionism to expressionism, from new expressionism to new concretism, I have traveled a path of destruction.
From the concrete to the abstract? I haven't really gone abstract; I have always been imagery-based. Many people say I am abstract (because they don't understand, but in fact, in art, understanding or not understanding doesn't matter; it's just a matter of liking or not liking).
Let me make a joke: I really haven't smoked, it's they who have been smoking.
Xipi Editor: Your paintings often contain profound conceptual meanings. Could you please tell us which stage or aspect of your life experiences has had the greatest influence on your artistic creation?
LF: It seems there is a misinterpretation here.
Those paintings with clear and specific directions (political, historical subjects, cartoons, illustrations, etc.) have already incorporated the intrinsic meanings of thoughts before the act of painting itself. On the other hand, pure formal painting does not inherently convey deep intellectual symbolism. Its capacity to carry meaning is limited. Otherwise, why would I bother writing? Painting has its own limitations.
The cultivation in life, including personality, is crucial, as well as the experience of a lonely and dark life. Hu Lancheng said Zen is a state of mind. Therefore, art itself should have a purpose. Without individualism, there is no art.
Xipi Editor: How do you view the works of master artists?
LF: In general, it's hard to say. The artworks of true master artists are eternal in the realm of human spirit, becoming the shoulders and ladder for future generations. They cannot be ignored or taken lightly. The radiance of their artistic concepts and thoughts directly or indirectly influences the course of human art. However, it cannot be denied that there are also pseudo-masters, pseudo-renowned artists. From a distance, they may appear powerful and grandiose, but upon closer inspection, it becomes clear: they are merely donkeys in disguise.
Xipi Editor: Which artists' works do you personally appreciate and admire? Have they had an influence on you?
LF: Oh, there are too many to list. Chen Yujun, Cy Twombly, Duan Yuanwen, Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, Mi Youren, Antonio Lopez, Tapies, Bada Shanren, Edvard Munch, Zhang Yang, Andy Warhol...
I love all the dishes they cook!
Xipi Editor: Have you been engaged in poetry art creation recently? Apart from modern poetry, do you also write classical-style poetry?
LF: I neither write modern poetry nor classical-style poetry. I write poetry.
Xipi Editor: How do you view the concept of "brush and ink should follow the times"?
LF: Ancient people naturally wore the clothes of their own time, and they wrote in the language of their era. That was their duty, and that was their contemporary. There's not much to talk about. In today's modernized environment, if you occasionally express a nostalgic sentiment through your attire or writing, it's understandable. However, if you persistently do so, you may create a certain "distance" from the present era. Artists like Lei Ziren, Liu Qinghe, and Li Dongjun have each embarked on their own contemporary path in their works, departing from their own perspectives and contexts. They have already transcended the concept of "literati painting." Their figures, brushwork, and colors are completely different from the traditional methods. Merely depicting a few reclusive scholars sitting among pine and bamboo, repeatedly playing with a single concept, is nothing more than a gimmick or a farce. It's just an extraction of external elegance, embellishing internal vanity and vulgarity. It lacks meaningful expression and depth. You say they are nostalgic? I only see many such people completely obsessed with modern life.
When the ancients said "brush and ink should follow the times," they earnestly admonished future generations that brush and ink should progress with the times, looking forward and moving forward.
If you don't move forward, someone else will!
Xipi Editor: We define this interview as "a kind of innocence or indulgence." Now I'll ask an innocent question: Is love great? What do you think of Qiong Yao's novels?
LF: Love is ultimately a private affair.
It's a game between two individuals. It doesn't allow for a third party, and its nature is still "private." Have you ever heard of something private being great? If we were to speak of greatness, it would be limited to the greatness between the two people involved, but as time goes on, it withers greatly. The innocent one in this scenario is the bed.
As for Qiong Yao, she is someone who has never awakened from a spring dream. Her works are not for art but for shallow emotions.
Xipi Editor: How do you view yourself and your art?
LF: I am an unreliable person, earnestly doing something that is not respectable.
Xipi Editor: Personally, which type of art do you appreciate more?
LF: I appreciate works that possess a sense of purity and depth that arises from the juxtaposition of freedom and form. The power of emotion that emerges from simplicity often captivates me.
Xipi Editor: I have heard you say that you are first and foremost a poet, and then a painter. Why is that?
LF: We live in an era where few people read books and are obsessed with their phones. It feels like the country has suddenly fallen into a low-intelligence society, where social morality is declining. Most people who write poetry are reluctant to call themselves poets. But in society, there must always be a certain group of people—those who remain ignorant of the current situation, who adhere to their youthful ideals and original intentions, and who stubbornly hold their ground and take responsibility.
By continuously doing something that initially may not hold much significance for 10, 20, or 30 years, it becomes meaningful. Art cannot save anything; our obsession with art is ultimately just a one-sided love affair.
The early-blooming apricot blossoms, the late-blooming winter plum. If one excels beyond the realm of art, they become different as a person.
Xipi Editor: From your works, it is evident that you have a high level of color cultivation. Could you discuss your understanding of color and how you express your thoughts and emotions through color?
LF: Color cultivation cannot be solely isolated and discussed based on a single artwork. It is an essential element in the construction of an artwork. Personally, almost all of the color elements in my paintings are built upon subjective formation and subjective establishment. Artists like Bonnard and Vuillard have extensively manipulated objective colors subjectively. Playing with colors in the composition is about respecting the needs of the artwork. They have already ventured far in this aspect.
Xipi Editor: Mature artists often have their own unique symbols and characteristics in their works. Can you talk about the specific language in your own works?
LF: I must admit that my own artistic language is not yet mature. It only retains the internal poetic imagery and atmosphere that belong to me personally, scattered here and there, in small doses, and not intense. When I was young, I often struggled with this issue, but in recent years, through the process of artistic practice, I no longer deliberately focus on it. Water, as long as it flows, is good. It has to adapt to wherever it flows, following the concept of "naturally and spontaneously," which ultimately points to fate.
Xipi Editor: Your works involve both representational and abstract expressions. Can you share your thoughts on the expressive modes of figurative representation and formal representation?
LF: In some works, the languages of representation and abstraction coexist and intertwine. For example, in the works of artist Leng Jun, the highly representational approach expresses his own abstract concepts, using external representation to reveal the internal abstraction of the subject matter. In essence, the concepts of figurative representation and formal representation boil down to the commonly discussed questions of "what to paint" and "how to paint." They both involve the artist's inner aesthetic cultivation and personal artistic inclination, becoming the spiritual undergarments of an artist.
Xipi Editor: How do you view classical art and modern art?
LF: Classical art is an artistic system that emerges from nothingness to existence, while modern art is a new system that evolves from the existing.
Xipi Editor: How do you view the ecosystem of artists in Shangqiu?
LF: There are many individuals who prioritize theory and techniques and forget about themselves. For any artist, it is essential to sincerely confront oneself in order to engage in meaningful creation. Merely praising others' works without understanding what makes them good shows my own ignorance and lack of knowledge.
The collective timidity often mistaken for "prudence" in the realm of art is prevalent. The majority of Chinese people are like zebras and antelopes, while only a few are like jackals and foxes. This country is a forest with thousands of years of genetic heritage, where people are overly shrewd. They may bow their heads to drink water like domesticated animals but always remain attentive to the sounds of the surrounding wind.
Xipi Editor: The character of a person is reflected in their calligraphy, painting, and writing; the quality of their artwork is indicative of their character. What do you think?
LF: This kind of argument is quite popular to the point that it creates an illusion on people's lips. But honestly, I personally believe that these statements are mostly wishful thinking by humans.
To my knowledge, figures like Han Yu, Qin Hui, and even Confucius had issues with their character, yet their artistic accomplishments and talents were not low. There are also a group of "good people" artists, but if you look at their works, they often tend to be mediocre. Sometimes, even God can be careless when creating people.
Xipi Editor: Your artwork at the national exhibition, "Possible Dilemma," is a mixed-media painting. Could you please talk about mixed-media?
LF: Integrated material painting, which my work "Possible Dilemma" exhibited at the national exhibition, falls under. It has been generally classified as a subset of oil painting in mainland China, but in recent years, it has been recognized as a separate category. In contrast, oil painting has become relatively marginalized. In my view, integrated material painting sometimes interacts with oil painting and installation art, but it possesses a stronger, freer, and broader artistic language. There are almost no limitations on the techniques and materials used in painting. All ready-made objects in life can be utilized: soy sauce, vinegar, asphalt, iron, acrylic, fibers, canvas, glue, lipstick, saliva...
In the past half-century, particularly in the international art scene, painting has broken through the barriers and constraints between art forms. Interdisciplinary approaches have become a widespread phenomenon, expanding people's artistic thinking and facilitating the transformation of artistic language. In terms of material painting language, it can be divided into three levels:
Emphasizing painting as the main focus and incorporating materials through the language of painting forms.
Highlighting the texture and formal qualities of the materials to present their own language states.
Utilizing materials to correspond to spiritual language, allowing the artist's spirit to resonate with the materials and convey visual spirituality and emotional experiences.
Today, it has become challenging to fully express the contemporary human experience using traditional painting language alone. Integrated material painting, however, has helped improve this situation by offering new possibilities and perspectives.
Xipi Editor: I have read your poetry collection, "The Injured Apples," and I find that it evokes a similar abstract feeling as your paintings, permeating a gray tone. What do you intend to convey through these expressions?
LF: The carefree moments of laughter and playfulness in our youth, once filled with a carefree spirit, become the most distant memories on the journey towards the future. We all belong to a specific era, and as we enter our later years, we are abandoned by the world. The desire for immortality, in reality, leads to rapid decay. Take a look at those old buildings that were once familiar and full of vitality in our youth—they no longer exist. Junkyards are filled with discarded cars, boilers, steel pipes, instruments, all waiting to be processed as scraps... They represent the twilight of human life, bringing tears to one's eyes. While the world remains bustling with activity, my inner self is filled with endless bewilderment.
Annie Baby said, "Plant hope in your own castle, filled with imagination, and wait for despair to come." Meanwhile, Valéry tells me, "The wind is rising; live your life well."
Xipi Editor: The final question—how would you define our conversation?
LF: As winter approaches, let us witness the changes of the world together.Read More