5 questions for Liao Zhixin
We talked to Guangzhou artist Liao Zhixin about his work on view at SinArts Gallery in The Hague, and in particular the wall filling piece 9 Days
1- Tell us something about the title of this work
a. For my work, 9 days which I made last year (2018 red.), I formulated a nine-day plan. I was living like a machine during these nine days in April. And I had a rigorous timetable that stipulated what I needed to do in those nine days: It was an experiment that if I was a medium, like a machine, would it be possible to mimic 100% another painting instead of creating that painting? Can we be accurately copy ourselves?
2- Can you tell us something about the process?
a. For nine days I would go to the studio and make a 32 x 42 cm plaster cast every day from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. I made the objective conditions as strict as possible: working for one hour in the same spot in the studio, eating the same food from the same supermarket, using the same mold (the canvas), with the same weight of plaster powder and water, etc.
artist image taken during the making of 9 Days
3- What are the most important questions you are asking with your artworks
a. In the cast works, I use plaster to mimic a painting to explore the existence between paintings and illusions. If we restore the painting to the most essential and primitive state to observe and realize, what might the painting be? Baudrillard says the question was neither to imitate nature nor how to emulate or copy readymades, but how to use the "true" symbol to replace real things accurately. Combining my works with what Baudrillard said, then if "true" is a canvas, then the "true" symbol is my cast, and if the "accurately replace" metaphor is me, then what is the real thing? What I want to discuss in my cast works is whether accuracy or inaccuracy as a form of representation blurs the precise boundaries between the real and the fictional world.
4- By education you are a painter, how does this work relate to your education
a. I want to shift my thinking on the issue of painting. When "painting" is no longer the icon of painting, how do we look at it? In other words, when we talk about painting, my first intuition is to observe the unusual texture of color; or the impressive composition; or how the content conveys emotions to people, etc. But if you think about it longer, when it comes to painting nowadays, its form has entirely changed beyond the fixed icon description that I was always taught as a student.
I’m interested in the very complex relationship one can have with an object or painting and how it can lead us in many different directions. As an extension of the painting, I try to create inaccurate imitations, emblems of painting as it were, to show paintings dissolution, much like the shelling cicada.
Painting is not only static watching and passive contemplation. It has a strong connection with today's media. Painting is still a significant or important medium in contemporary art today. In the past, people feared photography and mass communication, thinking that it would diminish our perception of art. Walter Benjamin already wrote about the loss of the original due to technical reproduction in the 1930s. But it led to the conceptualization of painting towards a new language structure and the transition to surrealism and psychology. There are also contemporary artists who use photography to imitate paintings, such as Jeff Wall, his concept is to use photography as a reinterpretation of the classical painting in Western art.
5- you are asking a lot of the viewer.
a. Not necessarily. In the end I do however rely on the viewer's inaccurate perception and readings of the work. I guess it is like Liubai(留白) in Chinese ink painting, which refers to an empty space left in the painting by the artist intentionally. I’m asking the audience to observe, be patient, toquestion what they see. But I try to keep the work open and Inviting.