Shen Ling’s solo exhibition “Flowers and Birds” was unveiled at the Hive Center for Contemporary Art on August 16, 2014, it presents Shen Ling’s recent creations in oil painting themed on flowers and birds, and it is also a response to the aesthetics of Chinese classical poetry. Before the opening of the exhibition, Shen Ling permitted a special interview with CAFA ART INFO and talked about the origin of the exhibition, her artistic understandings in different stages and themes, and also talked about the common themes between the upcoming exhibition and Chinese poetry, traditional aesthetics.
Mrs. Shen, How do you do? You have rarely hold an exhibition, so that the exhibition “Flowers and Birds” which is about to be held at the Hive Center for Contemporary Art has some characteristics that are a causing concern before the opening, please simply introduce the exhibition, including the origins, scale and clues to the exhibition, etc.
Shen Ling: An exhibition needs a mental state and an opportunity to exhibit. Sometimes I am immersed in painting so that I don’t want to interrupt it, and sometimes I am not satisfied so I want to wait for it to be perfect, in a word, to hold an exhibition is a combing through of work and a summary for me. It is unexpected to hold an exhibition at Hive Center for Contemporary Art, but sometimes that is life, which is an unexpected visit.
When you studied you participated in the exhibition held at the National Art Museum of China, which is rare for a student, in addition, you became famous when you were very young, you became a representative of the “new generation”, how did this experience impact on your later art road?
Shen Ling: The only influence is that I am always recommended for exhibitions and the experience, but I think no matter how much encouragement that was yesterday.
Your early creation focused on the surrounding people, scenes of life, and then private subjects, is this due to your mental state, your preference with enjoying and be concerned with your simple and ordinary primary life.
Shen Ling: I have always been a rather perceptual person, and it is a normal state that directly faces my own mind.
There are many descriptions of the subject of “love” in your creations, and many artists are also involved in the subject, as a female artist, do you have a different perspective or thinking in the expression of this subject?
Shen Ling: It’s a release rather than being depressed, it is beautiful rather than nasty, so that women should enjoy such a gift.
About the painting subjects, there are a large number of subjects of flowers and birds on show at the exhibition, could you tell us why you change the subject, and what are the differences between this kind of creation and the previous one?
Shen Ling: I have not attempted to draw flowers and birds, this transition is natural. On the one hand I am a middle-aged woman, and I become gentle, on the other hand, my studio is near Luoma Lake, so that I have to go by the lake to the studio every day, and on the roadside small wildflowers always draw me so I stop to blankly stare at them, I love their reckless blooming, as we all know, one will have a feeling for a person after they have been together for a while, so do things. I am often moved to tears. As Mr. Shen Congwen said, it is inevitable that the beautiful makes a person sad.
The title of this exhibition is “flowers and birds”, when we talk about “flowers and birds” in the Chinese art field, it refers to “flower-and-bird painting” in Chinese painting, are there any similarities between your creation of oil painting and the aesthetic spirit of Chinese flower-and-bird painting? (Or do you emphasize some difference?)
Shen Ling: It is the idea of the curator to entitle it flowers and birds, I don’t think there’s any relationship between them, but he insists on it.
I find the names of your works are very poetic when I see them on the internet, such as “Fallen Flowers in Floating Water”, “Grieved Over the Years, Flowers Are Moved to Tears”, “Autumn Wind”, what do you think of the relationship between your oil painting of flowers and birds and Chinese classical poetry?
Shen Ling: Realm is important in both oil painting and poetry. Realm includes not only scenes but also the state of mind, such as joys and sorrows. Just as Wang Guowei said, the poet must despise the external things, so he/she can freely describe scenery in the poetry, while he/she must pay attention to the external things, thus he/she can share happiness and depression with flowers and plants. Whether by writing or drawing, it is impossible to leave the portraying of realm.
Your oil painting has been always on the road of emotional expressive painting of intense colors, will you try to explore the combination of oil painting and traditional Chinese aesthetics?
Shen Ling: As an easterner, some potential things will unconsciously appear.
Wang Yuping and you are a couple, very much in love, you have held exhibitions together, his image also often appears in your paintings, are your ideas consistent with each other in the artistic creation of related issues? Or are there any differences?
Shen Ling: Nietzsche once said that, I loved the literature written by blood, we both agree on it. The differences come from the trivial matters of life.
Could you choose a few key words to describe your creations in oil painting?
Shen Ling: Refuse to be artificial, express the true temperament.
On August 12, 2014
Translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO.