China Railway Online Magazine

Set within the expansive Shanghai M50, in a quiet corner of the art district is where you will find LWH Gallery. It is small and holds intimate exhibitions. We noted that Lee, the owner of the gallery is friendly and visitors within seem very quiet. The gallery has a unique charm that draws you to explore.

Lee comes from Singapore. He is not an art professional by training. His prior experiences include running wellness centres and a lecturer in a Singapore tertiary institution. He travels extensively in Southeast Asia and around the world, and has a profound interest in social, racial and religious studies. This gallery is his personal interest. Perhaps, it is his “out the loop” of vision and open-mindedness that led him to select and showcase works that have strong emotional appeal and artistic expression. During our visit, the gallery was showing works by two highly acclaimed contemporary Korean artists.

Born in 1975, Ho Yoon Shin expresses his concept of “There is No Essence” through the paper carved sculptures in the form of Buddhas and Guanyins. Each slice of the paper craft is coated and protected by polyurethane. Each slice of paper is painstakingly built together to create an exquisite artwork that possesses strength and stability.

“There is No Essence” series of works is inspired not just only from the Buddhism philosophy, but also contains the essence of the artist’s reflections on the state of the world. When you admired the Buddha sculpture from different angles, it looks solid at times and hollow at another. It seems to suggest that when one looks at any issue or matter, one could try to see it from different angles. This may lead to a deeper understanding of the issues at hand rather than to close one’s mind to a single opinion or perspective.

Born in 1980, the works of Wang Zi Won exudes science and technology. His works is a combination of contemporary sculptures and mechanical engineering. The expression of the human sculptures is serious, evoking a ‘contemplative’ beauty about it. The artist deliberates about the harmonious coexistence of humans and technology from his own experiences.

“Through science and cloning, we are now able to repair and even enhance the human body and prolong its longevity. But how far can we tolerate the inference of science on our body without losing our true self?”, the artist questions. As such the artwork created by Wang presents discomforting issues and questions to the audience. The artist thinks that a balance and harmony between man and science could be achieved through our understanding of religious doctrines.

Lee said that the many years of travelling and his life experience made him realize the inclusiveness of life. The gallery aims to promote compassion, the embrace of diversity. “I hope that through artistic works, we can spread the message and reach out to a wider audience.” As such it is no surprise that many of the works presented at the gallery appeals and resonate with many audience. The interview concluded with him saying with a smile, “My visitors are heaven-sent, it is fate that that we meet.”

CHINA GLOBAL TIMES EXPLORES ‘THE ESSENCE OF I” WITH HO YOON SHIN AND ZI WON WANG

What’s the meaning of “I”? How should one define the essence of the self? Two South Korean artists are trying to answer these fundamental questions at the The Essence of I exhibition at LWH Gallery.

Both Wang Ziwon and Shin Hoyoon foresee a future that is a state of harmony and balance. They aim to explore what it means to be human and how humans can break free from their physical limitations.

Wang creates electrically powered futuristic sculptures of cyborgs that appear to be lost in meditation, encircled by mechanically moving components resembling halos or lotus flowers in full bloom.

The artist challenges the common perception that standards of morality are dropping with the advancement of artificial intelligence. He believes it is important for man to break free from his physical constraints in an effort to evolve and achieve harmony with advanced technology, rather than passively accept the future.

“Technology is changing our lives to the core, and I believe the integration of man and technology is inevitable. For instance, we wear glasses as our eyesight gets worse, and use cars or airplanes when we travel a long distance. I don’t find that right or wrong. I just hope to prompt people to consider these changes,” Wang said.

The inspiration behind Wang’s works stems from his interest in the versatility of robots when he was a child.

At the age of 20, he became fascinated with replaceable bodies after a car accident left him partly paralyzed for a period of time. Examples he cites include robotic replacements for an amputated hand, artificial eyes for the blind, and electrodes planted in the brains of Parkinson’s diease patient to help quell the symptoms of the disease.
“Technology is changing our lives little by little, even without our awareness,” Wang said.

He began to examine the impact of science on cyber-connected human relations, the increasingly integrated relationship between man and technology, and the possibilities of breaking free from the limitations of the human body through robotics.

The calm and meditative faces constantly found in Wang’s pieces are, in fact, portraits of the artist himself. His works start from the birth of Z, a mechanical man named after his first name’s English initial.

Taking the famous statement “I think, therefore I am” from French philosopher René Descartes as his starting point, Wang asks what it means to be human, whether a person can still be considered himself when his spirit is taken away from his body, and at what stage man’s integration with technology wipes out his identity as a moral subject.

Shin Hoyoon deliberates upon similar issues through intricate Buddha statutes built using a fine paper-cutting technique.

There is No Essence is a series of sculptures made entirely of fiber paper, each crafted meticulously by hand (pictured top). Shin cuts each layer of the sculpture and coats them with urethane to preserve the paper. They are then piled along with coated paper joints that lend strength and stability to the light delicate structure. Each work weighs no more than 200 grams, despite some of them being as tall as 35cm.

To Shin, paper is the most preferential and versatile material with which to portray the structures of society. “I appreciate the history of paper – its ability to pass down knowledge through documentation,” he said. “Using paper is a reflection of the self-inflicting act of a society which tends to advance by injuring itself.”

Shin likes to elevate the plainness of paper into multi-dimensional pieces of art so as to reflect the fundamental social and political conditions in South Korea and the world beyond.

“The present Korea is mired in chaos as it is driven by greed and money,” Shin said.

He suggests Buddhist philosophy as a means of tackling these issues. “The essence of ‘I’ is the mind. When the mind is set right, you can see right. It is vital that people cultivate their minds, so as to be free from the anxiety and agony,” he said.

SMALL TALK WITH ZI WONG WANG BY TIMEOUT SHANGHAI

Innovative Korean artist Wang Ziwon creates beautiful sculptures with mechanical moving parts. Ahead of his exhibition, ‘The Essence of I”, at LWH Gallery this month, he tells TimeOut about the inspiration behind his work.

 

Where does your interest in robotics stem from?

Since I was a child, I was interested in robots. I was fascinated by their versatility. When I was 20 years old, I had a car accident. Since then, I began to explore and research the enhancement and perhaps even the transformation of the human body.

 

Buddhist forms are common in your pieces, why is this?

I do not consciously choose to create works that use Buddhist iconography. Rather, the inspiration from my works stems from the ‘transcendence of existence from science’, exploring the possibility of breaking free from the limitation of the human body with robotics. In that sense perhaps, we share a common question on how man could break free from his physical limitations.

 

How do you choose the scale of your work?

The scale varies. They range from larger-than-life size works to small works that are about a cubic feet. The sizes of each series of artworks are dictated by my inspiration or the concept of the artwork.

 

What themes are you exploring through your art?

We are now seeing the integration of mechanics with the human body, the interference of science in transforming the body. We are now embarking on the first step of the ‘Post-Human’ era. I try to look beyond where we are at now and explore the possibilities. What are the issues? What are the impacts? What will we become? Who are we?

 

Do you believe technology can be a vehicle for spirituality?

Technology has transformed the transportation of information, including discourse on spirituality, however I do not see the body and its spirit as two separate entities. The integration of science and the human body has certainly spurred people to think about the interference of science on spirituality.

 

The facial features on your pieces are unmoving and less detailed than real faces – why is this?

The faces on many of the artworks that I have created are inspired by Buddhist art, which I find to be calming and meditative. The faces are simple as they serve a symbolic purpose. From the many exhibitions and countries that I have shown my works in, I’ve discovered that different people react differently to my artwork and that is good as it spurs discussion.

 

Do you see a positive future as man and technology become more closely entwined?

The integration of man and science is inevitable and in the short term, I think the future looks good. The limitations of the human body will be broken. The ‘space’ which we could explore and create will be extended tremendously. History has shown that sometimes man and society are not able to manage the tools that he possesses. Unfortunately, sometimes he abuses it. But then time and time again we have also learned and evolved. As such, I am hopeful of a positive future.

RENDEVOUS AT YOGYAKARTA CONDE NAST TRAVELER, CHINA

Visit LWH Gallery, Shanghai.It is currently hosting an art exhibition “Impression Indonesia”. Two Indonesian artists from Yogyakarta – Harun and Yuli, share some of the most interesting places in Yogyakarta.

 

Yuli Kodo – Classical Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta is a royal city filled with rich Javanese culture. The sunrise at the famous Borobudur is most spectacular. It is best to stay in the vicinity of the site the night before. Manohara and Tembi Rumah Budaya are two distinctive local resorts near Borobudur. Yogyakarta is renown for its batik, sculpture, ceramic and silverware. Jalan Kasongan wholesale market and Beringharjo are wonderful place for shopping. At Jimbaran Resto, House of Raminten and Gajah Wong Resto, one can find authentic Javanese and Indonesian cuisine with a cosy ambience. In the evening, one could enjoy a Ramayana dance performance at Prambanan temple. It is the largest and perhaps the most beautiful Hindu temple in Indonesia.

 

Harun – Art Pulse of Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta is the heart of Javanese art and culture. Almost every other day, there will be a new art exhibition somewhere in Yogyakarta. When I need inspiration, I will visit the Yogyakarta National Museum. The museum building used to be my school, the Indonesia Institute of Art. Most of Indonesia’s great masters have shown their works at the museum. One of Indonesia’s foremost art collect, Dr Oei Hong Djien’s private museum – OHD Museum, is located at Malang, which is not far from Yogyakarta. Dr Oei supports many young Indonesian artists who have become masters of contemporary art. The museum has an excellent collection of art covering a wide genre – certainly a treasure trove of contemporary Indonesian art.

DREAMS LOVE COMPANY BY CHOW YIAN PING, ZbBz ART

Emerging artist Zhang Zuo has found a believer in Singaporean-owned LWH Gallery, which organised his first solo exhibition

By Chow Yian Ping

 

The sun has just set on Moganshan Road and the LWH Gallery, established by Singaporean Lee Woon Hoe right by Suzhou Creek is ready to close for the day. This was the last day of 27-year-old Zhang Zuo’s solo exhibition – Solace of Youth, and he managed to sell three works.

 

If artists such as Xu Zhen, Maleonn, Yang Yongliang and Lu Yang are part of the young constellation that is lighting up in China’s contemporary arts scene, then Zhang – an industrial design graduate of Yanshan University in Hebei – is biding his time for a spot among the stars.

 

Simplicity and Solitude
Zhang was born to a family of farmers in rural Hebei. Although he did not gain admission to a fine arts programme after high school, he has doggedly stuck to his dream of becoming an artist, practicing on his own in the meantime. He went from Beijing to Shanghai last year, because Beijing was too “dry” as were his networking options. “Beijing’s winters are bleak and there is little warmth in interpersonal relations.” He concludes. “Although it’s a place I’m familiar with. I decided to stay away. I also wanted to experience other cities.”

 

In Shanghai, he took up day jobs and painted at night. He rented a small studio and gave himself the title “Su Ren” (or “Amateur”). It is a term used in the writings of Taiwanese author San Mao about a group of individuals in Paris doing the same thing as he was: working in the day, painting at night – leading all in all an ascetic lifestyle.

 

While looking for a job, Zhang had walked into LWH Gallery and it was there that he met Lee, a Singaporean who had quit his job in a multinational firm to set up an art gallery in Shanghai with his life savings. Impressed with his portfolio, Lee decided to organise an exhibition for Zhang, his first solo exhibition. The works are created using paint, watercolours and in pen, and express the lack of moorings and loneliness felt by young migrants in the cities. Zhang says he relies more on emotions than an understanding of society to paint his canvasses, as the latter is something he lacks.

 

Society Too Much For Him
The alienation Zhang feels, that is a major theme in his works, had been brewing since he left home for the big cities. Preferring a more stable life, none of Zhang’s schoolmates had chosen to become artists, even those who had gone on to study the fine arts. On the other hand, Zhang was determined to continue painting and wait for a breakthrough.

 

Living in Shanghai, the city has grown more unfamiliar and even frightening to him, he confesses. He takes heart in being able to continue with his passion, with the best success being the exhibition gig he snagged.

 

“Now I feel I have nothing to do with society, that I am a person who is not in society. I don’t seem to be able to handle things like interpersonal relationships and financial relationships in modern life… therefore, I wish to keep a distance. Perhaps, one day, I will have no choice but to go into society, to face it and even to confront it, but the time is not now.

 

As it turns out, the 500 sq ft of gallery space in LWH may have been the warmest place in chilly Shanghai for him – at least for now.

 

“There’s a saying that goes, if you feel that something is too great, too overwhelming, then you should keep a distance from it. Once I go (into society). I will not be able to see or feel certain things. I am not resisting (society), I just wish to be myself.”

 

Courtesy Of ZbBZ

大公报美术在线- LWH Gallery印象-印尼’

“印尼不仅只有巴厘岛。” ⼀一位印尼朋友感叹着说。

这种沮丧地⼼心情是可以理解的。巴厘岛是闻名于世界的 旅游景区。它的声名不时地盖过了印尼的其他地区。⼤大 多数的国际游客到印尼只是游览巴厘岛,因此对印尼⺠民 族⽂文化了解⼗十分狭隘。印尼是⼀一个拥有超过 13,000 个 岛屿的国家,巴厘岛仅是其中之⼀一。

作为世界上⼈人⼝口排名第四位的国家,印尼⼤大约有着 300 个⺠民族,每个⺠民族的⽂文化⼏几乎都受到印度,阿拉伯,中 国和欧洲⽂文化影响。最⼤大的⺠民族且在政治上占主导地位 的是⽖爪哇⼈人。⽽而⽖爪哇的历史⽂文化和⽂文化中⼼心驻扎于⽇日惹 。

《印象•印尼》展出了四位新兴艺术家爱迪 Yupri(Aidi Yupri),哈伦 (Harun),⽟玉⾥里 Kodo (Yuli Kodo) 和 华 优 Gunawan (Wahyu Gunawan) 的作品。Aidi 与 Yuli 的作品系列主题深刻地围绕着印尼⼉儿童教育的问题 。Harun 与 Wahyu 则 深⼊入探讨着印尼当今政治与社会 现象等问题。

在过去的⼀一年⾥里,我很⾼高兴可以游历印尼的艺术之都–⽇日惹,并在此拜访许多杰出的艺术家。 在我的眼中,⽇日惹是⼀一个洋溢着活⼒力并充满着多样化与⽆无限可能的艺术社区,它就像艺术家的摇 篮,源源不断地为当地的创作者们提供着灵感与养分。在当今,印尼的艺术家们所创作的作品在 更具备国际视野的同时,仍然牢牢扎根于⾃自⼰己的本⼟土⽂文化,体现着独特的⺠民族⻛风情与精髓。

我对印尼当代艺术的热情与当地国际艺术团体对印尼艺术的认可不谋⽽而合。强劲的国内经济增⻓长 始终是推动艺术产业蓬勃发展的原动⼒力。经济学家杂志曾预测印尼的国内⽣生产总值将在 2030 年超 过英国。随着财富实⼒力的不断壮⼤大,中产阶级们早已在多年前就开始了艺术品投资,不断地将⼀一 件件当代艺术品收⼊入囊中。⽇日益⾼高涨的需求推动了艺术市场的繁荣,继⽽而推动了印尼本⼟土画廊及 拍卖⾏行业的发展。苏富⽐比、佳⼠士得以及国际知名的⾼高古轩画廊都在雅加达成⽴立了⾃自⼰己的代表处。 在 2013 年,印尼艺术登陆新加坡,且特别建⽴立了印尼艺术展馆。

在未来两个⽉月的时间⾥里, LWH ⼼心艺画廊将带来⼏几位富有潜质的印尼艺术家的作品。本次名为《印 象•印尼》的展览⼀一⽅方⾯面是想为⼤大家呈现印尼当代绘画多样的⻛风格及模式,另⼀一⽅方⾯面,更为重要的 是,我们希望通过这些作品让更多的朋友了解印尼艺术的⼲⼴广泛创作,并且感受来⾃自印尼艺术所传 达出的精神与对于⼼心灵洗涤。

欢迎前来,加⼊入此次的印尼艺术之旅。

出⽣生于⽖爪哇国都的 Yuli Kodo , 成⻓长岁⽉月中充满了丰富的⽇日惹⽂文化遗产及古⽼老庆典的痕迹。 然⽽而多 年来城市化,让他们不仅失去了绿⾊色的空间,还有能够让孩⼦子们充分接触本⼟土古⽼老⽂文化的⽅方式也渐 渐流失。在这个系列的作品中,表现了传统⼉儿童游戏正在逐渐消失。已经没有从事传统的游戏操场 或宽⼲⼴广的前院,取⽽而代之的是视频游戏。原本属于家⼈人和朋友聚集的⽂文化公共空间,逐渐让位于商 场和商业办公室。

Yuli 的作品表现出我们现在的世界,⽣生活中的⼈人们都躲在⾃自⼰己的“⾯面具”后⾯面,它是我们连接,更 多的是信息数字化的沟通,缺少着实质性的情绪。尽管沟通越来越多,但更讽刺意味的是,⼈人们和 他们的⽂文化之间却产⽣生了鸿沟。因此,⽩白⾊色⾯面具的标志性表现⼿手法⼤大量的运⽤用于 Yuli 的作品中。

随着现代化建设进⼊入⽇日新⽉月异的发展,更多的⼈人失去了他们的⾃自我意识,并且“⾯面具”的⾓角⾊色在不 断偏向于低龄化。从 Yuli 的作品中,这个鲜明的特⾊色元素为作品添加不同的含义与新⾓角度。试图揭 开画中“隐意”吧 。

当 Aidi Yupri 年幼的时候,他的⽗父 亲就教导他如何播种、种植,和在 他的种植园中对不同地树⽊木进⾏行照 顾。Aidi 仿佛每天都可以听到它们 感叹、哭泣和呜咽。但最重要的是 他从⼤大⾃自然中获得了智慧。Aidi 说: “树⽊木教会了我们关于⽣生命的本质 。树⽊木和植物世界可以启发我们对 于现实⽣生活的认知,同时它们也提 供整个地球与⽣生命最根本地能量资 源。”

对于他的作品“Self Reflection(⾃自我的反思)”Aidi 提醒⼈人们,⼤大⾃自然是⼀一个美好的反思和反省的 空间。它就如同⼀一⾯面镜⼦子,观望着⾃自⼰己。交错的双⼿手由⽆无数字⺟母逐步组成,如同恭敬的学⽣生,任 何⼀一个⼈人都可以开放着学习来源于⼤大⾃自然的教诲。在他另⼀一副作品“The Inscription of Life(⽣生命 的碑⽂文)”中,关注的是⼈人们试图强迫改变⾃自然界的规律。⾄至关重要的是我们必须反思我们过去的 ⾏行为,并学会去将⼯工作、⽣生活与⾃自然和谐的融⼊入。就如同 Aidi 引⽤用于约翰• F•肯尼迪著名的诗 句:“⼈人类不应该问⾃自然能为他提供什么,⽽而应该问⼈人类能为⾃自然奉献什么。

Harun 和 Wahyu Guanawan 都毕业于印尼最优秀的艺术学院–印尼中央艺术学院。它们两的 作品探讨着资本主义与全球化对印尼所带来的冲击。Wahyu 以⻄西⽅方童话的绘画⻛风格来体现⻄西⽅方⽂文化 的⼲⼴广泛性,有如那章⻥鱼的触须,⽆无所不在的渗透现代⽣生活的⽅方⽅方⾯面⾯面。全球化滂沱的⼒力量使本⼟土⽂文 化遗产底蕴渐渐的流逝。

Harun 认为,⼈人类具有着⽆无限创造的可能性及探索性。不过所他关注是在他周围的世界⾥里,⼈人们不 幸地将这种智能没有正确的运⽤用于创造福祉。在他的许多作品中,Harun 试图传达⼈人类空旷的灵魂 和滥⽤用过度消费的⼏几乎已经成为现代⽣生活中必不可少的组成部分。通过他的作品,Harun 突出挣扎 在社会边缘和被剥削⼈人们的窘境,从新移⺠民在城市空间中忐忐不安及压抑的⽣生活。

最终 Harun 和 Wahyu Guanawan 都希望通过他们的作品,对于这些问题的境况促使⼈人们能够今 早的意识到,并充分利⽤用⼈人们伟⼤大、⽆无穷的智慧做出正⾯面的改善。

TimeOut Shanghai Spotlight Artist – Chen Shi tong

Singapore’s culture is created from a melting pot of many religions, cultures and ideas from both the East and the West. With such a powerful confluence, there is no shortage of inspirations for artists. In the last couple of years, Singapore’s art scene has developed by leaps and bounds, especially in view of all the support from the government. There is a broad range of local, regional and international art events happening in the country all year round. Hence I am confident that we as artists can ride with this wave of the country’s growing prominence in the international art world.

 

I am influenced by the use of small figures juxtaposed onto a large landscape and the play of emptiness in the composition of Chinese landscapes. I was inspired by ‘Qing Ming Shang He Tu’ (清明上河图), especially the version created by Zhang Zeduan. His composition of figures conveys a sense of communal happiness and peace in his landscapes.

 

The issues that I am concerned with are the daily things that are happening in Singapore. I see such concerns as a form of language and I transfer the language into my work. I believe that as an artist it is important to be inspired and curious about the things that are happening around us.

 

I am concerned about the rate and the way in which the world is pursuing economic development. Environmental degradation, climate change, wide income inequality and social division are arising as a result of our relentless pursuit for economic growth and development. Likewise, I also think such problems are growing as a result of people becoming more and more alienated from each other. I do not expect my works to bond people together but instead I hope to generate awareness of these problems. I may not have the power to address these issues, but I hope my works will encourage a healthy discussion.

 

Art enables me to create beauty out of negativity. The power of art is the ability to put forward social issues or new ideas in a context that spurs people to contemplate it. It will be interesting to see how others will interpret my works. In the same way that I hope that people will appreciate my art, I appreciate and welcome the audience’s viewpoints on my works.

 

I use printmaking as my preferred method in creating my pieces. My process involves creating handcrafted textures on a surface. Thereafter I add a plethora of different mediums (e.g. oil and acrylic paint) before creating the art on a printing press. As for the figures, they are hand drawn before they are printed via silkscreen. This process allows me to build up layers of interesting textures.

 

I am intrigued by the dynamic interaction between the different mediums, how the mediums play, how they are affected by the environment and by me. Every new print brings new surprises. What one sees in the final artwork may seem simple. But unlike other art forms such as oil painting, where an artist has full creative freedom and control over the medium, I share my creative process with nature.

 

TimeOut Shanghai Interview with Naoko Tosa

Japanese sound artist Naoko Tosa updates the ancient art of flower arrangement in her Shanghai exhibition Sound of Ikebana. Time Out finds out more

 

Naoko Tosa first started fusing sound and images in the 1980s, before the era of computers. Yet for the renowned Japanese sound artist, the interplay between what we hear and what we see had always held a particular fascination. ‘I was,’ she explains, ‘interested in the story and the emotions of sound and images.’

 

More than two decades later and Tosa has utilised the latest technology to create her new exhibition Sound of Ikebana, opening this month in Shanghai. In Japanese, ikebana (literally ‘living flowers’) refers to the art of flower arrangement. Tosa has created her own take on the ancient art form through four separate works. For the pieces, vibrating sound was placed beneath pools of paint. Tosa then shot the resulting bubbles, leaps, and movements of the liquid at 2,000 frames per second with a high-speed camera. The artist says that the resulting images are not only an exploration of flowers and flower arranging, but also of the perpetually transient and evolving four seasons.

 

‘The effect of the vibration of sound on various forms of paint has created stunning images,’ says Tosa of her work. ‘Many of the images are evocative of the beauty of flowers. It was creative. It was beautiful.’ It is not only visually gorgeous but technically complicated. To create the pieces, Tosa first made basslines to provide the vibrations. This was followed by changing the parameters of the computer software used to generate the sounds and designing the shape and form of the paint. ‘After that,’ she says, ‘I shot with a high-speed camera. However, what I can control is only about 60 per cent. The rest are masterful works of nature.’

 

The colour spectrum is also crucial to the works. ‘In Asia, colours have always played a very significant role in religious and cultural expression,’ adds Tosa. ‘For example, red and white were the signature colours of kimonos during Japan’s Heian period (794 to 1185), while gold and red are the auspicious colours of the Chinese New Year.’ White, gold, and red are also symbols of Japanese wabi-sabi, an aesthetic that accepts the beauty of imperfection and impermanence. Tosa hopes to use the colours in her artworks to ‘encourage reflection of our own internal “seasons” as we progress through life.’

 

Tosa, 52, grew up in Fukuoka city on Kyushu island, where her mother was a homemaker and her father the president of a company that sold machine tools. From high school, she harboured ambitions to be an artist and has succeeded: her work has been exhibited in New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the New York Metropolitan Art Museum. But this was not before she had received a PhD in engineering from the University of Tokyo. Today, she is a professor at Kyoto University.

 

Part of Tosa’s inspiration comes from three years of collaboration in Boston at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) where she was a fellow from 2002 to 2004. ‘I researched creative engineering,’ recalls the artist. ‘The MIT CAVS director asked me to explore Japanese media art and new technology. As such, I made The Art of Zen.’ The piece is an interactive study of Zen by computer, which juxtaposes the hesitations and delays of human consciousness with the immediacy of computer software. As Tosa points out, ‘technology has allowed us to create new forms of artwork that could never be possible before.’

 

In Sound of Ikebana, the traditional Japanese art form of haiku – three line poems of 17 syllables each – are also incorporated. These are sourced from masters including Yosa Buson, Matsuo Basho and Kobayashi Issa. So what is Tosa’s favourite haiku from the exhibition? The answer matches her favourite season of autumn – a time of passing and transition. ‘Looking up/A deer cries its tears/Dew of the moon.’

 

Sound of Ikebana is at LWH Gallery from Friday 7 February to Wednesday 5 March.

 

By Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore

TimeOut Shanghai Interview with Chinese Artist – Zhang Zuo

Zhang Zuo hails from a small rural village in northern Hebei province. Born in 1986, his work, usually ink and paint on paper, relays the journey of migrant youth through images of birds and trees. Ahead of his first solo exhibition, Solace of Youth, Time Out finds out more

 

Your work reflects on the angst and joy of migrant youth in China. Why is this important? 

I am reflecting on the present state of my country and myself. There are many young people like me who migrate from villages to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. According to an official survey in 2011, of the nine million who migrated to the cities, four million of them are aged 20-34 years old, accounting for 47 per cent of the migrant population. This figure is set to grow. For the millions of youths who move, their objectives are very similar: to seek a better life, to find a decent paying job, to pursue their aspirations. Most of them came from villages where conditions are harsh. When they arrive in the city, although many are unprepared for the challenges, they wait it out despite the uncertainty. They endure the struggles, and bury their desire for the familiar, for their family. But they persevere knowing that the journey will be long – for this is the spirit of youth. For our generation, we did not suffer under the revolutions, we have benefited from the grace of development. Although we struggle, we know that this is our time. It belongs to us.

 

What do you want to convey with your work?

I know some people say my paintings express the beauty in sadness, but I do wish that people could see hope from sorrow. I believe there is hope in the city.

 

Which artists have you been most influenced by?

I am influenced by different artists at different stages of my life. When I was a kid, my first contact with Western art was through paintings by Matisse, and I emulated them countless times. I also like Edvard Munch’s works and hence in my works there are moments of shades of grey. Once I took an interest in sculptures from the Sui and Tang dynasties. Later on, I appreciated the grace and arrogance of works by Chinese artist Zhu Da. Most importantly, my life experience affects me.

 

Your first move from home was to Beijing and while there you worked in a company that creates mass-produced artworks to sell. Did you feel that compromised your creativity at the time?

It is a reality of life. I bear no grudges. Imagine a person who has just graduated from a fine art course, goes to Beijing’s Songzhuang artist village hoping to pursue his artistic creation but needs a stable income. Working in a painting factory is probably the best option. He can paint, earn an income and perhaps create his own works in the evening. Those mass-produced paintingshad minimal impact on me, but the job allowed me to better understand myself and sharpen my creative endeavour. I value the importance of inspiration; I appreciate the role of technical competency.

 

In 2010 you joined the army…

I always feel people should try different things, have different life experiences. The rules of society differ from the rules in the military. I wanted to express my gratitude and appreciation to my country. Another practical reason was that afterwards I was able to repay the student loan that I took up. The pay was almost equivalent to three years of my family’s crop income.

 

Finally, what do the birds in your paintings represent?

The birds represent the many young people who are like me. I believe that every artist sees themselves in their own works.

 

Solace of Youth is at LWH Gallery from Friday 10 to Tuesday 28 January.

 

By Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore

That’s Shanghai Interview with Zhang Zuo

Last October, Wuhan-born Zeng Fanzhi set a new contemporary Asian art record with the US$23.3 million sale of his painting The Last Supper at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. The news confirms that there’s gold in these hills. But new artist Zhang Zuo is unimpressed by the growing cult of personality surrounding Mainland contemporary artists.

 

“There is no such good thing as a good artist in any form,” Zhang declares. “There are only good pieces of art.”

 

Born in a small town of roughly 1,000 people in Hebei Province, Zhang’s artistic journey has been a pure one. His debut solo exhibition, Solace of Youth, opens at LWH Gallery in m50 on January 10, and he’ll be milling around on weekends eavesdropping to hear the audience’s unfiltered thoughts on his work.

 

“I feel very fortunate,” he says. “An artist I knew, Mo Xin, recently died, and he didn’t get his first exhibition until his late 60s.”

 

The mixed-media show features nearly thirty pieces centering around the experiences of modern migrant youth in China. It’s an experience that Zhang knows too well.

 

“Unlike my father and forefathers who had a very intense history and experienced a great deal, I was born in good times,” he says. “I wanted to record this era. Although there’s a lack of revolutions, there are still challenges.”

 

“There’s a huge gap between migrant youth’s aspirations and what reality is able to provide. Traditional education and cultural values have failed to catch up to give these young people the tools to survive in this new reality.”

 

Zhang’s artistic journey began before kindergarten. Growing up in a poor and toy-less household, he spent his childhood routinely cutting out cartoon characters painted on instant noodles packages and pasting them on discarded paper.

 

Although he studied design at Mei San University, Zhang’s heart was in art. At 24, he moved to Beijing’s creative haven Songzhuang – a move he says he didn’t dare tell his parents about – where he survived on menthol cigarettes and four buns a day flavored with bottled minced meat sauce. Days were spent painting in an unheated concrete slab with fellow aspiring artists.

 

To make ends meet, he took a job at a company that specialized in mass produced artwork where he developed the ability to paint four works a day. Despite seeing his peers succumb to the stability day jobs provided, Zhang was passionate about his artistic life of drinking, smoking and creating.

 

“I was very raw, rough and arrogant then,” he says. “I wasn’t scared of anything and didn’t think about selling any of my paintings.”

 

Things changed in 2010 when he joined the army as a way to pay off his school fees – “My military income was the equivalent of three years of my family’s annual crop” – which left little time for art. Doodling any chance he got, Zhang left the army two years later with much more discipline and determination.

 

He moved to Shanghai last March to be closer to his girlfriend, and works and lives in a 15 square meter apartment in Pudong where, he says, “I eat, sleep, drink, smoke, paint and … (smiles cheekily) on that floor.”

 

While he misses the ability to mix with locals and kindred spirits in Songzhuang, this city has been kind to him. This exhibition is an accident as he first approached LWH Gallery to see if they were hiring.

 

“As a gallery, we mainly feature Southeast Asian art, but I believe that we should nurture and give back to society,” says LWH founder Woon Hoe. “Being in Shanghai’s art district, we should provide a platform for young aspiring Chinese artists.”

 

Impressed by Zhang’s earlier dreamscapes, Woon requested larger pieces for a solo show. Over the past few months, the theme emerged with work encompassing ink, spray paint and other mediums.

 

“The birds represent migrant youth and the barren landscape symbolizes the harsh environment they struggle in,” Zhang says. “This will probably be my most innocent and honest exhibition as I’m not tainted by commercial thinking.”

 

By Andrew Chin