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Interview with Yuan Yuan


- The framework of each composition is often large, but you also pay incredible attention to the details of every surface, for example, floor tiles or tiny tiles of showers or pools. Where does this intense interest in mosaics and patterns come from? Early memories from childhood, perhaps?

Nature exhibits many paradoxical forms; beautiful but deadly; small yet aggressive; big but gentle. Using big framework to depict small objects reflects that observation. Moreover, I also believe in the concept of strength in numbers. The small items such as ceramic tiles organized in a very tight formation in a hugh number, in my opinion, convey a sense of power. Furthermore, like Minimalism in visual art , I am also trying to inject as much emotion as possible to geometric abstractions in order to maintain a neutral position. Small ceramic tiles with their simplicities and easy artistic manipulability seem to satisfy such objective.
For a lack of abilities of some artists who can quickly and playfully capture the essence of the subject with short quick strokes of paint, I would have to take a long time to finish my work. My paintings certainly echoed the merticulous nature of their creator.

- You seem to have a fascination with showers, pools and water. The atmosphere often seems humid, dripping. It is also claustrophobic and quite melancholic. Is this what you want to achieve?

Yes, actually I use oil to imitate water, but unlike water, oil will never dry out. Rice paper can also produce such effect. Before I start to paint, I will thin the oil colours. Then, I will cover the canvas with layers of wet paint. In this way, layers of paint bodies will bond every well. It is a very classic painting technique.
I like water very much. My studio is located in Hangzhou, which has a very wet climate, especially during the raining season. Humid weather and gray sky somehow provide me with a certain level of comfort. But, the reality is that it is very hard to have a studio of your own. I have moved three times in a year; a record! I do have a group of moving company friends whom I meet very often. Although I am a man of optimism, I can't help to fell depressed sometimes.

- In all your works, it is as if a stage is set, but there are no actors. There are never any people. Do you want to hint at a human presence by eg the dripping water? Or perhaps the thousands of little tiles, all identical, hint at the millions of people in China?

I want to use traces of human activity to hint the existence of man. Therefore my paintings do not often involve natural sceneries. What attracts me the most are the evidences of human activities in abandoned places. For instance, if I find a piece of scrap paper in an uninhabited house, however insignificant, i will examined it very attentively , because it might contain a record of a human activity, perhaps a thought.
I often arranged small ceramic tiles on canvas. it is my habit . Everyday I spent a lot of time to tidy up my studio, because if a tool is not in its rightful place, I can't begin to work. I am a very detail oriented person. But as soon as I start to work , the process will go very smoothly. This characteristic flaw does not seem to affect my creative work. As an independent artist in china is less interested in my work, no one will want to improve you.

-  I wonder if you are trying to convey a sense of passing time, of history and transition in your paintings? Or do you just want the viewer to focus on the visual effect of the patterns you depict?

Of course, the focus of my painting is to convey a sense of time passed through visual effects. Clearly time is something we can not physically touch but constantly feel its presence. My hope is that when audiences are focusing on the visual effect of the patterns depicted, they could also sense subconsciously the passing time embedded in those patterns.

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