An Interview of Dong Xiaozhuang and Emilio Carrasco Gutierrez Author:Wu Yongqiang Date: 2012-09-12 Size:
  Wu Yongqiang(hereinafter referred to as Wu)The project -- “Duo Art, One World” of Dong Xiaozhuang is in the second stage, and this is also the second time of Dong Xiaozhuang to cooperate with foreign artists. I have heard about the origin of this project, but I don’t know muc

  Wu Yongqiang(hereinafter referred to as Wu)The project -- “Duo Art, One World” of Dong Xiaozhuang is in the second stage, and this is also the second time of Dong Xiaozhuang to cooperate with foreign artists. I have heard about the origin of this project, but I don’t know much about it; maybe I don't get the real comprehension about Mr. Dong, so I want to know his conception; why you want to start this project?

  Dong Xiaozhuang (hereinafter referred to as Dong): I should start with my own experience. I liked to go around and get much knowledge when I was young. From 20 years ago, I had my first visit abroad. Then I went to a lot of countries, to communicate with people there. When I know more, I found that communicating between cultures still had a lot of questions even now we are in the information era, people in this cultural background may misunderstand another culture. For example, western and oriental, they always misunderstand the opposite culture. So here's my observation. In spite of different reasons of the conflicts between countries, different districts, different cities, culture misunderstanding is still an important reason that cannot be ignored. Among the foreigners I met before, many of them misunderstand Chinese culture. Just as I went to other countries to learn the foreign cultures, I also want foreign artists can come to China to learn Chinese culture, to improve the culture exchange.

  Especially when I found that many international elites in art circles and intellectual circles had a big misapprehension about Chinese culture, I start to put forward my query about individual judgment, and I tried all I can to invite them to China to do some cultural projects together. In 2010, I invited the famous international art master Martin. R. Beayens from Belgium to machinate a China-Europe creative works collection. I had known about Martin more than ten years, and he also took exception to Chinese culture, and Chinese traditional culture, like Chinese painting. After he got touch to a lot of details of Chinese culture by himself in China, he was moved finally. Because of the cooperation and appreciation between us, we start to have some communications; Martin had an increasing interest in Chinese culture at that period. On the way to Dujiang Weir, Martin proposed the cooperation project of “Long Living Lotus”. By his way and by my own way, we painted every work together. Through the cooperation, we want to learn the differences in mental, art and culture, then to get a better communication. This was the beginning of the whole project.

  Li Yongzheng and Zhao Mi(hereinafter referred to as Li and Zhao):This project is not a communication on the normal artistic layer but from a deep experience.

  Dong: Right. Li Yongzheng and Zhao Mi are the first people who know about this activity and they concern about the whole process all the time. They suggested that I should continue this project with artists from the five continents , and there is a theme to be born:‘Duo art ,One World’. Of course ,the theme of cooperating with Emilio could be named:“Duo art ,one world—From America”.

  Wu: So, When did Dong meet Emilio? Meanwhile ,we know ,there are many countries in America with many artists ,why do Mexico and Emilio to be the country and artist that are selected in the project -“Duo Art ,One World”?

  Dong: Like the way we met everyone in our life, the acquaintances among artists are also occasionally. I and Emilio, we knew each other for a short time but soon we became intimates. Emilio is an artist worthy of respects. I increasingly believed that the communication between human is not judged by the length of time but by the depth of understanding. We are just mind acts upon mind. The fact just proves this, when I put forward this plan, Emilio readily promised. So this is not the choice made by me, but by us.

  Wu: The acquaintanceship of Dong and Emilio is a fate, this fate will make us to generate associations on some coincidence. For example , whether it more could represents culture of America or not from the geographical position and history of Mexico , so that “Duo Art ,One world” would deserve its name. If this fate without planning ,the resonance between you must be the nature creation. Dong has told us about his thought, now ,I want to know how does Emilio think of Dong’s suggestion?

  Emilio (hereinafter referred to as E): It’s my pleasure to receive Mr. Dong’s invitation, so I readily promised and come here soon. It’s no doubt that nobody would refuse this invitation. Mr. Dong is a noble man and noble artist; I believe that I’m a great artist, too. Two different men came together to experience a creation process because of the same goal. There are always difficulties, like a new road we never pass through. I know that a lot of unknown things in the road, it is full of challenges. But we all know that unknown things and challenges make us more excited. Challenges mean opportunities and windfall and surprises. It’s no doubt that the result of this cooperation is important, but the experience is more important. I think it’s also a wonderful experience for the viewer, they can see more things like persistence.

  I always deem that the concept of the artist and the way to express the concept both are important, there’s no exception to Chengdu artists or Mexico artists. The new and meaningful way for artists to communication is by acts of creation. I was born in Mexico, a city with a long history. But I’m not a traditional artist; I know the importance of opening and communication. I has been a artist for 34 years and form an own art language, I hope to share it with my friend. I believe that the cooperation with Mr. Dong will inject new vitality to my art language and make it more powerful and to deliver more human emotional things.

  Till now, the two artists have worked together for half an month. Did they prepare some detailed plan or made an outline after they made this decision ? Trough the cooperation, Dong, are there some differences in cooperation with Martin for last year ?And how does Mr. Emilio think of this cooperation?

  Dong: Without any plans. When I was cooperated with Martin, I had a lot of plans, a lot of questions. And that, a rational and precisian person with western culture, with a oriental who is taken care by Chinese medicine, they have so many difficulties in communication, tangled and combed, finally solved. And I was so thankful to the cooperated with Martin, because of the experiences; the cooperation with Emilio becomes easier. We are both involved in our works; we put forward questions and solve them every minute, so they will not be abstract questions. Emilio is a noble person with good moral quality and conduct himself modest and gentle, we are in good relationship and we have the similar art perception. There is no burden when I decided to cooperate with him, even though we did not have a conversation face to face. My son Yifei and Emilio’s daughter Lina, they arranged everything on the internet. They both can speak English, so they can communicate by language.

  E: I saw Dong’s work before, it’s amazing. And he is so nice! A man with this generous laugh, who will deny that he is a good person? Does this flatter each other? (Laugh) —Because we will spend a long time together, so it’s very important that the person is a good person or not. I want to say that we spent a happy time together. We always put the works we just did in front of us, and ask each other: Good or not? Just like old friends. Sometimes we disagree with each other, and sometimes we do tacit cooperation. No matter in which circumstances, even we have strong conflicts, I like my time here. Now, more times we agree with each other than conflict, we feel that we are in the condition.

  Li: How do you think about the difference between co-creation and individual creation ? I heard Emilio mentioned about immutability of artworks, it seems that he really pay attention to this problem. So, Emilio, how you think of immutability of artworks? Especially on co-creation? And how to approach “Immutability” in your co-creation?

  E: Like the tea mug on the table, it was full of tea this afternoon, now empty. All the tea are tossed out. I just like the tea mug, even though I don’t know the result of out cooperation, I give up all the things I had known, then put new things into it. I don’t know what should be put into beforehand; this action relies on the process, because we create things in the process.

  Dong: This process is full of cruel beauty. Because we don’t know the theme, we always erase what we just have done, then solve the problem. Erasing, is because we think it’s should be better, and need to start all over again.

  Li: The judgment stander of both of you are not same , your opinions are difficult to be unified, so, whose work should be wiped away ? Moreover, I am interested in a plot, in the process of painting , how is your feeling if your parts were wiped away ?

  E: I erase his work, he will not be angry with me, and so do I (smile!). Actually, in my own creation process, I will come across some problem, too. My way to solve the problem is try to avoid it. It doesn’t matter that Dong erases my work, I just create new one. Just like my own way, we never have any bad conflicts.

  Wu: From the two artists’ conversation, we should know , there were no communication, no common ideas ,no definitional themes or forms before they started to create ,they were just guided by painting trace. If it could be understood as :Both of your communication have leeched on to a unplanned process . Of course ,there is a basic tacit understanding : Allowing their parts were wiped away by each other. No matter who do it ,just following a fate and without complaining, then getting positive affection through negative, and combining this creative process with communication, right?

  Li: Like trial marriage?

  Wu: Yes, trial marriage.

   E: Colors, passion and life, these are always in our creation process. I feel that the result is coming soon, and I believe that he feels the same as me. I think maybe after one week or two weeks or until the day I go back to my country, we can draw any pieces without being erased. But these are alright. Painting is like playing, Picasso, Cezanne and Van Gogh, they were painting all their lifetime. The process is the most important. And I really believe that, after one week or two weeks, it will be different even though there are no essential changes.

  Zhao: I think, perhaps Emilio doesn’t understand the meaning of Chinese “Drawing meeting”, “Drawing meeting” means many people get together and create artworks, but most of them just are acting -the whirl of society. When I heard this project, I think it may be an international “Drawing meeting”. But until now, I know there is big difference with my image. Dong has organized many activities ,and actually, this kind of activities is a subtle culture clash that emerged by created behavior. I wonder ,does it looks more like behavior art or more like painting? I think in this activity ,conception has surpassed finishing these works, I want to know Dong’s opinions.

  Dong: Even though it is called “Duo Art, One World”, it still as you and Li Yongzheng suggested, I will focus on the cultural survival experience. The process is more important than the value of our works. Tow individuals with different cultural background to abandon all the selfishness and personal considerations to immerse themselves in the creation, we hope to create a new spiritual language beyond the power and the cultural estrangements. And it can perceives the source and value of life. This ideal has pertinence to culture. Even though we are living in a high-tech era, we still have impulses to review the countryside life. This is not to pursue the old things, but to release the love to the ground and humanity and witness the inner spiritual demands of looking for self-conscious. No matter to cooperate with Martin or Emilio, every creation process is a journey for communication beyond cultural differences and self-liberty. The purpose is to pry into human secrets and regression to Garden of Eden and reacquaint love and truth. It has nothing to do with the high-tech, crowd city and busy life, and human will never abandon it. Because art is a language for all the people, it can be a way with penetrating power for people with different cultural backgrounds to communicate and get the spiritual liberty.

  Zhao: Are there any conflicts in your cooperation? How to communicate with each other in different


  Dong: Of course there are conflicts. I have written down in my dairy. When we are happy, we express our feeling by gestures, his boxing and my Tai Ji. Actually there’s another space—mental space for us to express our feelings. Just with colors and figures, no languages. The premise is totally emptying you. When we are creating, it likes we enter a mental space that can tolerate each other. When we draw the first line, our emotions are mobilizing to make another one to fellow. We keep painting when we have feelings, until all the things had been painted, we are speechless. The feelings are like music rhythm, spreading and harmonic, sometimes leisurely, sometimes suffering, but they blend each other in the canvas.

  E: The purpose of creating languages is communication. Many times, however, the more you use languages, the more confusion you are. Non-languages communication, a new mode of communication using by Mr. Dong and me and through lanes and colors, is better than using languages. Overlapping or erasing each other's colors, we can touch the deep heart through the colliding of red and black. In recent years, as far as I am concerned, there is no more questions about art. But cooperating with Mr. Dong generates a lot of new problems. It is grievous to solve the problem of arts; nevertheless, it is also filled with charms. Seeking joy amid hardship is the reward that non-languages communication gives us.

  Li: I have some more questions .Emilio said he also modified these works, it means, Emilio has his own art-standard .so , Is it a chance for him to apply this standard after Mr. Dong erased his parts ? And is it same with Dong? I have been thinking , whether both of them would still kept their styles or not even they created on same piece canvas?

  Definitely, the artists judge the works of art from their own standard. It is impossible for me to become Mr. Dong, so does Mr. Dong. As to me, the meaning of our cooperation is not extinguishing each other's personality, but producing new products by using our own individuality. When Mr. Dong negates my works, I have another world in my mind, I have a background of Mexico, I have my ideas. I think Mr. Dong is also like that.

  It supposes to be. However, Mexican culture seems very tight; there is no vacancy in the painting. This time, Emilio changes this style and leave a space in his painting.

  Wu: From Li Yongzheng’s questions ,they remind us to think about the problems of artists’ art background and experience. Emilio and Dong . I noticed, Emilio’s graphics always related with America aboriginal culture, Dong Xiaozhuang’s graphics related with the Yi nationality in a certain period( during eighties and nineties).So, Dong, do you think this experience will has some effects on the communication between you and Emilio?

  The understanding of world is full of confusion. We cannot get an answer easily, no matter what we ask, religion, race, right or people. Because I still believe that you can learn more by traveling a thousand miles than by reading a thousand books. When I can afford to maintain my basic needs and have spare cash, I always travel around the world, hoping to find and touch the substantial thing from the different cultures. Comparing with modern culture, I prefer to awe the ancient cultures, which are mirror bright and are connected with dreams. Provincialism was popular in 1980's. While all the people seek the feeling of roots through appearance, I began painting to discover spirits. Maybe the reason for that was once I suffered from mental harm. Because of my family's background, I was subjected to political discrimination in my childhood, which becomes a shadow in my memory. At that time, the print door i created reflects the struggle of my inner world. There are many kinds of door in the world; they all conceal a kind of life, a period of spiritual process. So the preventative door is not the real door. Until now, I still believe, there is some basic recognition connecting with spirit, no matter how senior they are. For example, we associate blood when we see red color and death when we see black. All these originate from ancient thought, however they all entrust color to spirituality and symbolic value. In 1989,i hold an art exhibition in National Art Museum of China, meeting the famous painter professor Wu Xiaocang, he was very excited when he saw my painting, and specifically wrote an essay and said that my painting revealed our national spirit, but his paint about Yi nationality is lack of something. In my opinion, all these benefit from my life experience and spiritual sensitive of visual elements of shape and color. In 2008, when I saw Mr. Emilio's work in the first time, I hold some powerful enjoyment for him. In Emilio's eyes, there are some mysterious similarity between culture of Mexican aborigines and culture of Yi nationality. The essential thing is "man is an integral part of nature and animism, so when I saw his painting, I feel home and relaxation. This is an affluent spiritual memory of an old nation which I can touch from vision. The paints which we cooperate reflect the natural mode of the modern romance of men and women. They tangle with each other freely ,however all these have nothing with sexuality but a symbolic spirit that all men have to release their tension and masks and bring back to themselves, observing the basic meaning of life.

  Wu: Dong’s words have raised some questions about art, original culture and spirituality, and he also gave us personal and insightful answer, which really gave me some great inspiration. Now let me change a point ,and I want to know how do you think of the relation between art creation and native culture.

  E: sometimes I dress the traditional clothes of Mexican aboriginals and eat the traditional food. I am with the Europe blood even though my ancestors moved away from Span. I was born in Mexico and studied in Spain, so I mixed various cultural elements. But Europe culture influenced me more. And so did the contemporary Mexico culture. I haven’t learnt the aboriginal culture formally, but I was influenced by it. For example, my works are in the style of Teotihuacán.

  Dong: I am not a Yi nationality, too. But I have lived in Pan Zhihua which is next to Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture for 18 years; I always spent my time in Liangshan, so I became a mixed person, half Han nationality and half Yi people, which seemed that I was a Yi people totally in my blood. I am not agreeing that Yi culture is an outdated culture. In the angle of civilization, I even thought that Yi people are more civilized than us who are living in high buildings, driving a car and talking with a telephone because they know how to cherish human’s emotional value. Even though they are poor, they host gusts with the most expensive things they own, pigs or something else. I am deeply touched when I think of them. Maybe some works of me seem to be different, but the qualities of the orthogenetic culture still the same, they are full of Yi people’s ground, lives and songs. This is my theme and style; try to express the spirit of the original days.

  Wu:In Chinese art world, “Contemporary art” is not means “art in this age”--- in our times, but means avant-garde art. On the other hand , talk about the meaning of avant-garde art ,it seems that there is a long distance between theory and practice, difference of people’s understanding cause theory appears blurring. Emilio ,could you tell me what is the contemporary art in Mexico? Meanwhile ,is it very important to your creation?

  E: Contemporary art is important for the developing of Mexican art. Contemporary art makes the traditional Mexican art and the whole Latin America art worldlier. From 1979 to 1981, I worked for Boyce as a member of EN. In those three years, I did installation instead of painting. I began to do the mailing art 27 years ago . Without any suspension, there are a lot of my mailing art documents in the world. I wonder that if I can call it contemporary art. Maybe it doesn’t matter whether it belongs to contemporary art or not; the point is whether it has the optic angle of contemporary art or not. And painting is another way of creation. It depends on the different stages of life, just as I said to Shen Shaoming, the famous international contemporary artist.

  Li: Is it possible related with age?

  E: Probably……

  Li: These days ,Crag’s exhibition has been hold in Chengdu Contemporary art museum, It is displaying traditional sculptures. It is said these works are related with his age , and his works will return to the traditional with his growing age.

  E: Time and age can be the reasons, but the state is the most important reason. I still try a lot of things now, just like reading a book, in which every page is different. Since we have mentioned the book, I want to say that I am doing some works by the way to make a book, and there are a lot of words in it, but these words can’t be read.

  Wu: At last, I want to know how many times has Emilio been to China? You’re expecting more Chinese people to appreciate your works, right? In addition , do you want to introduce this project to your country ,and let more Mexican know this cooperation between you and Dong?

  E: I have been to China 5 times; I have gone to Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian and other cities. This is the second time to Chengdu. I really hope that more people can know my art, including Chinese; I really hope more Chinese can understand my art through this activity. And I would like to introduce this activity to Mexico, it’s my pleasure.

  Wu Yongqiang famous commenter

  doctoral supervisor of Sichuan University

  Aug.24th, 2012

[Editor] 常霞