Independent & Image: How have you been doing? Are there any plans being discontinued? Or Have you got new inspiration? Feng Yan: Not bad, though nothing is what it used to be in this special period. Luckily, many are gradually returning to their normal rhythm, including me. Recently I’ve been very interested in the relationship between the universe and the heaven and earth in Chinese culture. I also keep getting inspiration through meteorology, these subjects all fascinate me. I’ll continue to explore Five senses and Wave. I’m deeply intrigued by the mutual force among the internal, five senses and the external. Wave Series were my very first art works originated from fixed ropes, I pull the ropes randomly to get wrinkle shapes. I thought they resembled us when we were moving forward in real life.
Independent & Image: How did you start making the works Rhizome, Five Senses and Wave-Sometimes that are now showing at RE-SEE? Feng Yan: In Rhizome, after the flowers I planted withered and became bigger and extended, they looked more like in full blossom. As the rhizome’s leaves drooped, it looked like there would be new flowers growing out again and it reminded me of the cycle and vitality. While Five sense was created out of my accumulated feelings about and the interaction with the environment, all of a sudden the image of a prototype based on eyes occurred to me. My inspiration for Wave appeared when I was in the crowded rush hour subway in the morning. Crowds were like the unpredictable life, but everyone was trying so hard to keep tight. Gradually detailed images were not enough to convey my emotions and I started switching to abstract expression like Wave-Sometimes.
Rhizome 2, acrylic on board, 60x30cm, 2020
Rhizome 3, acrylic on board, 60x40cm, 2020
Independent & Image: What does art mean to you? Feng Yan: I’m quite dull at other times, almost all my hobbies are connected with art in one way or another. To view them while depriving the art part makes me in the middle of nowhere. Art provides me endless space for imagination, and whatever I can think of, I can get feedback. It also keeps me being curious and always ready to learn passionately, which is so wonderful that I’m full of vigor.
Independent & Image: Who are your biggest influences? Feng Yan: Originally I was largely affected by fashion. When I was young, every issue of ELLE and VOGUE after 1997 was stacked on the bookshelf at home. As a result, these magazines gave me my very original ideas about colors, layout and comparatively avant-garde aesthetic taste. The artist who has influenced me most is always Yohji Yamamoto. Since my very first time seeing his handling colors, tailoring, blank-leaving and more, I’ve been deeply enlightened.
Independent & Image: Does art need to respond to reality? Does the reality need responses from art as well? Feng Yan: In my opinion, art and reality co-exist mutually, each becomes more complete with the other’s feature. Artwork with strong personal characteristic could present a real group, and artwork showing reality could be interpreted via certain artistic angles. When we view art or reality separately, none could stand solidly. Maybe art is an abstraction and reality is derived; however, I don’t think we have to separate them apart.
Five Senses 1, acrylic on canvas, 110x110cm, 2020
Wave — Sometimes 3, acrylic on canvas, 110x110cm, 2019