Interview:Artist Jin Feng on Rhetoric
Source:City Weekend Author:laurafitch Date: 2011-04-06 Size:
In “Rhetoric,” currently on display at Art Channel, he returns to painting, though his concentration in conceptual works is still clear on his canvases. We already reviewed “Rhetoric,” but we asked Jin Feng about the story behind the artworks.

 We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Jin Feng, an artist known for his conceptual artwork and performance pieces, which netted him the 2010 Chinese Art Critics Annual Conference Best Artist award. In “Rhetoric,” currently on display at Art Channel, he returns to painting, though his concentration in conceptual works is still clear on his canvases. We already reviewed “Rhetoric,” but we asked Jin Feng about the story behind the artworks.

In “Rhetoric,” you paint images from different settings on top of each other. How did you choose these images?

I searched through the news for stories in China, and pieces in the international press that had some sort of link to those stories. I wanted to juxtapose these events in my paintings, to create a sense of irony through the selection and placement of these events together. For example, I painted a picture of a very fat woman in China standing on a scale, and paired it with an image of a very thin woman, which was from a story I found about models who were too thin being barred from entering a fashion show in Milan. My paintings in this show are all like this. China is still developing, and is caught between looking to the outside world for ideas and making its own path. Everything is interconnected. I want to show how these events that happen in different places in the world connect and influence each other.

In each of your paintings, you as an artist are choosing which stories to contrast, which ones to put together. If you were a journalist, which stories would you choose to tell?

I don’t think I’d be able to choose. I don’t look at the stories from that perspective. I choose to contrast the stories that other people have chosen, that create a narrative that I work with.Each of the paintings has Chinese characters scratched into the surface. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to make out what they are saying. Are these characters random?They aren’t random. They are verbatim pieces of the news reports that I drew inspiration from for the paintings themselves.

Why did you choose to begin painting again after such a long time doing performance and conceptual pieces?

I originally studied painting in university, and decided to try my hand at it again.

Your paintings still have a very conceptual feel to them. What are your thoughts on the conceptual art scene in China?

The term “conceptual art” is a Western term, and I hope that “conceptual” artists in China can find their own way, and create their own genre. Chinese artists have been able to learn a lot from the West in terms of technique, but each place has its own culture, and artistic temperament. My art is political, and it’s very deeply connected to the culture I come from. Art cannot exist without the culture that has created it. It took years for Western art traditions to develop from the Renaissance, and years to form a cohesive idea of what conceptual art is. In China, art has developed quickly, and under different political and economic circumstances. Therefore I think it’s difficult to label my art under the Western term “conceptual,” even though I deal with concepts. Perhaps we need to think of a new term!

[Editor] Lola Xu

    Artintern