Photography Maxwell Tomlinson

4 chinese artists you need to know

For The Radical Issue, we met four brave, visionary artists from China showing at Frieze London.

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Mar 26 2018, 7:10pm

Photography Maxwell Tomlinson

This article originally appeared in The Radical Issue, no. 351, Spring 2018.

Tang Dixin

When someone asks you to describe your work, what do you say? This world forces me to live in a certain way, so I impose my force upon it in return. You do both performance work and painting; how do these two relate? That day when I saw the train heading towards me I could see the driver very clearly, and I jumped into the gap between the railways, and the train passed over me. This tremendous thing enclosed me. I heard the cacophony of the wheels rubbing on the railways. Saw the sparks being carved out of them while the train was breaking. My body was like a musical instrument lying there resonating. The train stopped, and I saw a woman sitting on the subway platform looking at me climbing out from underneath the train. I created this minute using my body and the setting of that particular moment. When I recall it now, I can only describe it, not embody it for you. The theme of the issue is about breaking the establishment. Discuss... I don’t want to be stuck in the old world or create a new one. I don’t believe in anyone’s traditions, or in a prosperous future of technology that will solve all our problems. I just want to constantly traverse and investigate the essence of each particular moment.

Xinyi Cheng

How would you describe the themes of your work? I am fascinated by emotions, desire and power, and the relationship between them. What do you like most about painting? I love how physical it is. How looking at a painting can emotionally overwhelm you. Would you describe what you do as political? Everything we do is political, the way we choose to live, to eat, to travel, and love.

Chen Zhe

How would you describe the themes of your work? A quest to understand the complex and transient experiences that we all share. Do you think people in the west stereotype art coming from China? Of course they do, just like we can’t avoid to not stereotype art from other cultures. But is this a problem at this age? I don’t think so. What do you think the most important things happening in the art world today are? Belief has been shattered. We have only uncertainty.

Lu Pingyuan

What attracts you to using text and narrative in your work? In stories everything can be perfect. What are the most important things happening in the art world today? This is the information era. Things spread across the world in a short time and then get replaced. We are “present” in the information at any time, and we are spying on each moment like ghosts.

Credits

Photography Maxwell Tomlinson
Grooming Shiori Takahashi. Photography assistance Rory James Cole. Grooming assistance Megumi Sano