Saturday, September 12, 2015

Quayside, 12x12

It's been two years.....
.....since I was last in Maine, but I will be there again soon.  Later this week, so lucky me.  As I was walking along it was the vibrant color in the evening that struck me, quickly followed by the simplicity of shapes.  It had to end up in paint.

The same thing happened the other day when I was walking down Seattle's Second Avenue and happened to cross over to see what was so interesting in the Patricia Rovzar Gallery.  Z. Z. Wei was having a one person show of his large evocative landscapes.

Their impact kept me mesmerized long enough that the ferry left without me.  Terrific pieces.  I came home and looked up his website, saw more work but, if it hadn't been that I had just seen his paintings in person I wouldn't have been half so impressed.  His website is HERE.

I kept searching the web for more about him and came across an interview at Triggerfish which is one of the best interviews of an artist I've read.....or maybe it just hit me where I'm currently at.  Some of the things he says remind me of the lessons I learned from Sunny Apinchapong Yang, who I was fortunate enough to study with several times.  A link to Sunny is HERE.

Among many other things, Sunny taught me to not take it all so seriously.  He said it once as he was flinging a demonstration painting into the woods.  "I suppose now I'll have to go pick it up...." but he was laughing.

 In this interview with Steve Parker Z. Z. Wei says things which also give me a fresh take on it all.  I encourage you to go read the whole interview but here is a segment that said volumes to me:

SP:  That’s fascinating, thanks. It sounds like some sort of shamanistic relationship with paint. Does the paint represent part or parts of yourself in that process, or do you think it has some objective life of its own?
I’ve been wondering how I would describe you to someone who had never seen your work. Do you have a name for what you do? I mean as in do you in any way see yourself as part of a school or a movement? Who have been your biggest influences or mentors? We mentioned Giorgio de Chirico a while back. What other artists do you like or see as important? I know that’s another big question.
ZZ: I am not familiar with “shamanism”, but for sure I am not“possessed” when I paint. I like the scientific, analytical approach of your questions, but I might disappoint you. My answers are likely allegorical/fabular. I think that my relation with paint is more like life’s relation with air. Is it parts of a whole? No. Can they be separated? No. (This is oriental thinking.) I think you have a difficult task. We don’t know each other and at the same time I am a person without “stories”. I understand stories are a big part of any article (even so for articles about art) and I am sorry that even the materials I can provide you are also scarce. I always feel strongly that artists are on the back stage of their work. It’s enough to just enjoy my work. If you like the eggs, it’s not necessary to meet the hen that lays them.
I don’t belong to any schools or movements. (I know that art history, especially history of modern art, is mostly about the evolution of schools and movements.) I am merely an “individual” living in today’s world, who enjoys painting. I express my feelings, and I hope to move others. I know it’s comfortable to “swim with the flow”, but I prefer those styles that are different from what’s trendy, and the artists with unique artistic skills and feelings. The list is actually very long, and should include roadside graffitis and shop signs of some country stores. Let’s just forget about listing the names. Once we start labeling, we are limiting and restraining ourselves. As a poet, you must be agreeing with me that we learn about art not just from art history. Life and living are what’s most important.
As for mentors, I think my father, an unknown art enthusiast, is my most important influence. The reason why I say this is not a “gesture”, but is based on facts. Because of him, I am passionate about art, nature, painting and reading. In my childhood, only when I was painting and reading was I allowed to stay up late way passed my bedtime. He taught me that art has to be “real”—to truly express one’s true feelings, not as a tool to obtain fame and wealth by pleasing the crowd with bombastic words and deeds. I think it is the traditional value of the Chinese scholar gentleman of his generation. Arts (in the forms of string instruments, strategy game of go, Chinese calligraphy and Chinese painting) are their required accomplishments and important part of life. Of course, it won’t be practical in today’s society. Art is still my “occupation”.  (Maybe they were a group of people who didn’t have to worry about their means of living.) However, my father’s belief in honestly expressing oneself still deeply affects me. It enables me to remain independent from the often massive and momentous, “populars”. Behind the Dazzling forms there are often commercial hypes. Obscure terms and theories are usually created in need to fill the void of substance (or lack of contents?). What do you think?
That strikes a whole keyboard of chords with me, especially his comparison of paint to air.
Hope you enjoy that interview.  I hope to meet him someday.  
I'll post more when I return.

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