Zidian YAN 晏资典
Rust-like elements often appear in my art, like scars, negative effects, etc. My thinking in using these elements is: when we’re faced with some issues, recognising their existence and balancing their relationships with us is precisely what we should do.
As a young artist in the field of contemporary art, Zidian YAN aims to consider the social situation by combining his visual language and the realisation of philosophy.
YAN hopes to break with the constraints of traditional Chinese aesthetics and explore the future context of the Art world by communicating through a combination of Western and Chinese culture.
He wants his works to build a world of “Poetic Utopia”, and his main artistic intention is to promote “poetic revolution” and “rebuilding life”. He, therefore, regards artwork as a reflection of intention and the content involved in it as evidence of his artistic concepts. He also believes that, as a medium, the form of artwork is merely about presenting meanings.
晏资典作为一名当代青年艺术家，其致力于通过视觉艺术语言与中西哲学 话语进行融合，从而表达当对下社会环境思考。并希望以东西方文化交流为手段，摆 脱中国传统审美的桎梏，并对艺术世界未来的发展语境进行探索。 他希望让作品进入到一个“更为诗意的乌托邦世界”，并以“诗性的革命”以及“重塑生 活”为创作的主要意图。他认为，艺术作品其实是一种意图的再现，作品所表达出的内 容才是艺术观念的见证，而形式仅作为传达观念的介质存在。
The names would be abbreviated as “Ifance” (Ifance FAN) and “YAN” (Zidian YAN).
Ifance: Could you tell us how did you organize your work and life? Like, what have you been up to lately during the pandemic? And was there any aspect of your work and life that has changed by the pandemic?
YAN: During the pandemic, I spent most of my time painting at home, and my social life was less than normal. Recently, I’m trying to change myself and breaking through some limitations, in order to explore some new views. The change might be that I had more awareness of the crisis, just as a Chinese old saying goes, “If we live with sorrow, we would die with happiness”. Therefore, being in such a serious circumstance, all of us should inspire ourselves to be more aware in order to deal with the challenge.
Ifance: Could you tell us about what kind of impact the pandemic might have on your art creation? such as the changes you‘ve experienced or discovered? or what could be taken as your Pivot during this period?
YAN: If we just talk about art creation, I have to say that actually, it might have more positive impacts. As the result of lockdown which directly caused by the pandemic, I’ve spent a quiet period at home by creating some oil paintings, or reading some poetry masterpieces and anthologies. As for my Pivot, it might be more about the new things that happened during this period, such as the process of engaging with the new stuff or new friends and understanding and accepting them as time went by. This was also presented in my paintings I’ve created with my heart.
Ifance: Just mentioned that you read a lot of poems and anthologies at that time. Could you share them with us?
YAN: Yes, in particular, there will be more poetry anthologies recently. Like” Thus Spoke Zarathustra” by Nietzsche, and “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau. Interestingly, they were also in the stage of solitude in their lives when they wrote these masterpieces. Meanwhile, I’m reading books by Xiaobo Wang and Rainer Maria Rilke.
Ifance: During this special time, what has impressed you the most? does it have any connection with your intention of the artwork?
YAN: The thing that impressed me most was our attitude toward the pandemic. After the outbreak, we instantly implemented the lockdown strategy to control its spread. This attitude also could be found in the process of art creating similar: when we discovered a problem, the thing we need to do is not avoiding it, but to recognize it and solve it, I also express this opinion in my works.
Ifance: What was the source of inspiration for these works? And when did you start two conceive it? What kind of relationships are involved among them?
YAN: The idea of the artworks mainly came from the phenomenon of the pandemic, my mood state, and the poems and articles I’d read at that time. Ideas could emerge in every moment of living a life. When these artworks were finished, virtually, it was not the same as its conception at first, because it’s varying with my feeling and thinking during my process of creation.
Ifance: From the bonus scene in the video, it can be seen that you’ve changed to another idea just before creating. Why does this happen? What kind of information do you want to express by this?
YAN: The idea appeared after Easter. At first, I was focusing on experimenting with new materials to make a breakthrough of the scenes, and after attempts, I found that it was quite good. Therefore, this bonus scene was created and wasn’t public until one year after the outbreak. What I wanted to depict was not only that we were all affected by the time and the destiny, but also the clear moonshine, the bright sky, the endless sea, and the stars covered the sky, they were all in my mind.
Ifance: Have you ever counted how many artworks were created during that time? Which one do you like best? What do you think should be the most difficult part during the whole creating process?
YAN: There were nearly 30 artworks, not just paintings, but also performed with the form of conceptual art and installation art. My favourite work is The sunshine is falling like dust when we are breathing quietly.
The most difficult part of the whole creating course was my mental issue. This was due to the fact of my standard of taking an artwork as completed because I wouldn’t think an artwork as finished unless I’ve passed the hurdle that emerged in my mind during its creation.
Ifance: Did these works capture or record the changes or influences that appeared during the pandemic? Could you tell me which one gave you the deepest feeling during the creation? and what its story was like?
YAN: It is true that these works recorded the changes in my thoughts. Cutting off the prosperous moon on the earth and my thought of never contacting initiatively was the most impressive one for me because I am not an active person in life and relationships, I always miss some of my friends, but wouldn’t contact them on my own. I can only miss them deeply in my mind.
Ifance: Who are your favourite artists?
YAN: There are four artists. The first one is Anselm Kiefer, and then Joseph Beuys, Olafur Eliasson and Anish Kapoor.
Ifance: I have noticed that you’ve used the creating methods of paintings, installations, sculptures to reflect on the difficulties and considerations in your life. Is this the focus of your art creation? What are you thinking of when you selecting different methods to perform creation? What is the relationship between these artworks and your other works?
YAN: There are many ways of expressing my thoughts, and my focus is to purely express and vocalize my mind through those works. The perception that emerged from the dilemma is the most inspirational for creation. There are different creative methods but the purpose is the same.
Ifance: I’ve noticed that you held a solo exhibition online last year. Is there anything you want to share with the audience from this experience? What made you want to hold this exhibition? What do you think is the relationship between curation and creation?
YAN: Well, I’d like to share but I feel that I am still not good enough, I should put more energy into my creation to present better works. Haha, the reason for holding this online exhibition was because I had nothing to do during the epidemic, so I thought that I should make an annual summary for my whole-year creations. Maybe I would hold such an online exhibition every year in the future. Art creating is like the arm, and curatorial work is more of overall planning, summing up, like joints.
Ifance: Since your first exposure to art, or before the special period, has your perception of art been changed? Is there anything you want to say to the artists? Especially the ones who are still in school.
YAN: My ultimate goal hasn’t been changed for more than ten years, what changed was my attitude towards the “rules of the game”. I want to say that, “This road might not be as easy as you imagined, so if you’re taking Art as a pure belief, just try your best to live your life.”
Host: Ifance FAN
Contact Person: Ifance FAN
Planner: Ifance FAN
Text: Ifance FAN
Translator: Jiaqi GAO
Proofreading: Calum BAIRD