Art Interview - Artistic Language and Personal Expression

Art Interview - Artistic Language and Personal Expression

Artistic Language and Personal Expression

Interviewer: Winston Loi (Art Agent)

Interviewee: Xu Bin (Artist)

Location: Xu Bin's private studio, filled with his artworks and objects of inspiration

Time: Afternoon of June 19th, 2024

• Winston Loi (Loi): Mr. Xu, thank you for joining me today. Let's start by discussing the artistic language of visual art. What do you think constitutes artistic language in this context?

• Xu Bin (Xu): Mr. Loi, it's a pleasure. I believe artistic language, in its essence, is the tool and method an artist employs to express their thoughts and emotions. It encompasses visual elements like perspective, composition, lines, and color choices within a painting, forming a deeply personal visual vocabulary. I believe an artist's artistic language is highly individualistic, a defining characteristic of their artistic style.

• Loi: Observing your paintings, the impact of these visual elements is evident. Your use of composition, lines, shapes, perspective, space, and color possess a unique quality. Could you elaborate on your approach?

• Xu: Absolutely. Take my recently completed piece, "Kiss of Life III," as an example. The selection of each visual element is deliberate and crucial to my creative process. I've incorporated vibrant, luminous colors – the pinks and oranges of the figures, the golden hues of the environment – not just for visual impact, but to echo the theme of "life" itself, a vibrant life force. Simultaneously, I've introduced cooler blues and purples to subtly allude to the presence of "death," reflecting the eternal philosophical theme of life and death's intertwined dance. I tend to avoid dark colors, especially earthy tones, maintaining a high level of luminosity in my work. Even when exploring themes like mortality, my paintings retain a sense of graceful composure, mirroring my own outlook on life – you see, I've always embraced a rather philosophical perspective.

Compositionally, I've employed the scattered perspective technique found in traditional Chinese painting. Unbound by a single viewpoint, it allows for greater inclusion, much like Tang and Song dynasty poetry, where emotions are conveyed through a tapestry of scenes and rich imagery. Through this powerful composition, I aim to interweave life and death, reality and dreams, prompting deeper contemplation from the viewer.

• Loi: The inherent thoughts and emotions, the "inner world" within your work, resonate deeply. How do you think your artistic language reflects this inner world?

• Xu: You're very observant. My "inner world" is the driving force behind my creations. Art, for me, is a mirror reflecting my joys, sorrows, and understanding of the world.

The boldness of my colors stems from the passion and vitality within me. I use vibrant hues to express the dynamism of life, to engage viewers visually and evoke a shared sentiment. The unique shapes, fluid lines, and exaggerated proportions are all manifestations of my inner feelings and thoughts. I strive to break free from conventional aesthetics, to observe and challenge established perceptions through a fresh, candid lens.

I resist being confined by any rigid framework. Like my inner world, my art is unrestrained, brimming with possibilities. I hope to forge an emotional connection with viewers, allowing them to experience my joy, sorrow, perplexity, and reflections on life and the world.

• Loi: I've noticed recurring objects in your different works, almost like symbols with fixed meanings. Do you consider these personalized symbols, especially those with specific symbolic significance, to be part of your artistic language?

• Xu: Artistic language is multifaceted. It extends beyond the presentation of visual elements to encompass symbolic thinking. For me, highly personalized symbols are integral to my artistic language, serving as bridges between myself and the audience. These symbols hold significance because they carry profound meaning. My work is replete with self-developed symbols – birds, fish, keyboard keys, ladders, flashlights, doorframes, each imbued with its own significance. For instance, the doorframe represents the narrow gate in Christianity, the ladder symbolizes humanity's striving for progress and the advancement of civilization. The flocks of birds are not merely visual embellishments but emblems of freedom and hope, capable of triggering emotional resonance and prompting contemplation on themes like liberation and the pursuit of dreams. Every artist has their preferred symbolic elements, offering viewers a unique lens through which to interpret the work's inherent themes. As part of the artistic language, symbols provide a perspective for understanding the deeper message within a piece. In my creative process, I continuously seek and create new symbols to reflect the complexities and diversity of modern society. In doing so, we not only connect with our audience through our unique artistic language but also push the boundaries of art, adding new dimensions to the artistic landscape.

• Loi: How did you develop such a distinctive artistic language?

• Xu: Discovering my artistic language has been a long and winding journey, a fascinating expedition inspired by numerous masters along the way.

In my early years, I was captivated by the Impressionists' mastery of light and shadow, and I was drawn to the Pointillists' technique of constructing images with meticulous brushstrokes. Later, I was deeply moved by Cubism's deconstruction of space and form, and Surrealism's exploration of dreams and the subconscious. I experimented with incorporating these diverse styles into my own work, constantly experimenting and pushing boundaries, which gradually shaped who I am as an artist today.

Of course, my artistic language is not merely imitation or collage. It's more of a fusion and sublimation, an integration of all my experiences and reflections into my creations. I've been an avid reader of poetry since childhood, and those imaginative words, those delicate depictions of life and emotions, have profoundly influenced my art. Philosophy and religion have also enlightened me, giving me a deeper understanding of the world and life, and these reflections have ultimately become the wellspring of my creative inspiration.

Living in this era of rapid development, technological advancements and societal transformations constantly influence my work. I strive to capture the pulse of our times, to reflect the inner world of individuals, and to explore the possibilities of future art through my paintbrush.

In essence, my artistic language is the voice from deep within my soul. It embodies my understanding of various art forms and carries my thoughts, emotions, and perceptions of the world.

• Loi: You've mentioned the scattered perspective of Chinese painting, Tang and Song dynasty poetry, the narrow gate in Christianity, and philosophical thought. It's clear that your work embraces diverse cultural backgrounds, even merging multiple cultural elements within a single piece. Could you tell us about your own cultural background and how it has influenced your artistic expression?

• Xu: You're right, my work does fuse different cultural elements, which is inseparable from my own background.

Growing up in China, I was immersed in traditional culture. Classical poetry, painting, and music planted seeds of beauty in my heart. The unique scattered perspective of Chinese painting, with its ability to depict "a thousand miles within a square inch," has always fascinated me. It made me realize that artistic expression can be free and unrestrained. The implicit and meaningful expression in Tang and Song dynasty poetry also subtly influenced me. I hope my work can be like those poems, thought-provoking and evocative.

Later, I encountered Western culture and was drawn to its rational and logical thinking. I began to ponder the differences and commonalities between Eastern and Western cultures. My wife is a devout Christian, and I was touched by the metaphor of the "narrow gate" in Christian teachings. It symbolizes the path to truth and redemption, which inspired me to believe that artistic creation also requires constant exploration and breakthroughs to reach new heights.

The collision and fusion of Eastern and Western cultures have broadened my horizons and made me realize that art transcends national boundaries and cultural differences. I hope to use my work to build bridges of communication, allowing people from diverse backgrounds to find resonance and experience the power of art.

My cultural background is like numerous streams converging into the wellspring of my creativity, nourishing my artistic language and shaping my unique style.

• Loi: I've observed that your work often incorporates contemporary themes like artificial intelligence and virtual worlds, including related elements like keyboard keys and screens. Technological advancements and social progress have significantly impacted our lives. Could you discuss how these factors influence your artistic language?

• Xu: This is indeed an area I've been focusing on and contemplating in recent years.

Technology is evolving at an unprecedented pace. The internet, artificial intelligence, virtual reality – these advancements are reshaping our world and providing new perspectives and expressive avenues for artistic creation. I often reflect on the relationship between humanity and technology in this age of rapid technological advancement. How will the virtual and real worlds coexist? These reflections ultimately find their way into my work, expressed through the language of art.

For example, elements like keyboards and screens, they are our windows to the virtual world, symbolizing the changing ways we communicate in the information age. I incorporate these elements into my work, using exaggeration and distortion to depict technology's impact on our lives and our experiences within this evolving landscape.

Simultaneously, I'm interested in how social progress is changing lifestyles and mindsets. Globalization, multiculturalism, the rise of individualism – these social phenomena all inspire me. I integrate these elements into my work, using color, line, and composition to express my understanding of these phenomena and my thoughts on the future.

For me, technological advancements and social progress are inexhaustible sources of artistic inspiration. I aspire to use my work to document the changes of our time, to explore the intersection of technology and humanity, and to respond to the questions posed by this era through art.

• Loi: Beautifully said. This provides valuable insight into the inclusivity and evolution of art. Lastly, could you share some unique aspects of your latest works or ongoing art projects?

• Xu: I'm currently engaged in a project exploring the relationship between cities and nature, examining the connection between humanity and the natural world. In this project, I'm experimenting with incorporating more new media and technology, such as video and sound, to enhance the interactivity and immersiveness of my art. I'm also exploring ways to blend traditional painting techniques with modern art forms, creating a more diverse and multi-dimensional artistic language.

• Loi: I'm very much looking forward to it! Thank you for sharing your insights today. I believe this has been an enriching experience for all art enthusiasts. We eagerly await the fresh perspectives and emotions your new works will undoubtedly evoke.

Xu: Thank you, Mr. Loi, for the insightful questions and engaging discussion. I, too, am excited to continue exploring and discovering the boundless world of art alongside everyone.

Back to blog

Leave a comment