HomeBiographyArtworksSealsArticlesPublicationsReviewsConversationColumnNewsChinese PaintingContact



click to see the scan copy  


Oriental Art . Master 《东方艺术.大家》

First Semimonthly of August 2006 二零零六年八月上半月刊



Art…needs sedimentation

— A conversation between Li Xiaoshan and Zhu Wei             

Editor / Wang Jing

Column / Dialogue between Masters 

Li Xiaoshan, born in 1957, is one of the leading characters of Chinese contemporary art. His  articles and activities has already been an important part of Chinese contemporary art history. His major publications include: History of Modern Chinese Painting, Attitude toward Criticism & Translation, The New China, Provocation In A Battlefield and What We Are Facing. Now he is the director of Graduate School of Contemporary Art (Nanjing Arts Institute) and Nanjing Square Museum of Contemporary Art.

Zhu Wei, born in 1966 in Beijing, is the most succesful Chinese ink and wash painter with international fame. He received education in the People’s Liberation Army Academy of Art, Beijing Film Academy, and China Institute of Art. Zhu Wei made his first appearance in international exhibition in 1993, and has put on more than 20 individual exhibitions around the world ever since. More than six different editions of special anthologies of his works and reviews have been published. The global famous Asian art gallery Plum Blossoms used to represent him worldwide for 12 years. His ink and wash works have been collected by more than 20 domestic and foreign art galleries and museums.

About contemporary 

Li Xiaoshan (Li): What do you think about contemporary art? 

Zhu Wei (Zhu): I always revolt against using the term contemporary art at every turn. Some people always emphasize that they are contemporary, and even do contemporary art in a way they used to do political movements. I think they’re only using the name to achieve their own goals. For instance an eighteen-year-old girl standing in front of us, and she constantly stress that she’s eighteen, which everybody can see. If you’re really young, you don’t have to say that, everybody knows. Then why she has to keep stressing on her age and youth? She must have some attempt. May be she can make a better deal with her age - if she’s a prostitute. Youth is visual, if you have to accentuate your juvenility, that only proves you’re getting old. And this is a typical situation in art nowadays: there always are people who consider themselves contemporary. But can art actually be distinguished by contemporary and none-contemporary? If you say you’re contemporary, then please tell me what is not contemporary? It’s as simple as after a few years we cannot say this installation is a contemporary installation and that multi-media is not contemporary multi-media. To label art is to make countless illegible individuals into a clear-cut group - without the label people can’t recognize you. This is the same with historians study history. But history only studies those already become past tense, why art in present tense is so hurry to tab, to footnote itself? Plus, if your work is labeled contemporary right after creation, it only means the life of your work is in countdown - in a short time it’s going to be none-contemporary, and will soon be washed out and abandoned. We have to offer all kinds of ongoing art phenomena with time and space, and not to hurry defining them as contemporary or anything else. 

Li: What do you think about the 1985 Art Movement, the post-89 political pop, Popi, and Cynical-realism, etc?

Zhu: The 1985 Art Movement happened not long after the reform and opening up, at the time we just started to accept some new western stuff. The movement was self-generated by artists, though technically it was a primitive emulation of western art, the artists were very simple and idealistic. Gao Minglu once recalls that after the Grand Exhibition of Modern Art held in the China Art Museum, the organizing committee asked the participants to come and take theirs works back, but many artists didn’t bother to come. The post-89 was quite different. It was created out of nothing by an overseas gallery and a couple of critics. At the time it was so called “Post-89 Chinese New Art”, using the word 89 was just a stunt. And the artists selected by the show were all commercially smart: their works rifely used western materials; the pictures were rich in color; themes perfunctory and away from trouble; quickly finished in a short time and dumped in large quantity; no room for artistic creation.

Li: What is your view towards today’s ink and wash?

Zhu: The Chinese ink and wash, or we should say Chinese painting, historically had always been a parallel form of art and aesthetic with the western painting. Why many Chinese artists nowadays feel unsure in their creation? Only because the materials and concepts they master are not original, but imported. The using of these materials and concepts can only be copies, not renewable, whereas the Chinese painting, whose frame of reference is not western. Many people have asked me which foreign masters had influenced my creation, I can not tell, for in fact there isn’t any. However, Fan Kuan in the Song Dynasty, Shi Tao and Badashanren in the late Ming Dynasty and early Qing Dynasty have placed great influence on me. They are much like my friends around me, my frames of reference, and objects that I want to challenge and surpass.

Facing the internalization of art 

Li: Have you ever confronted any problems in your creation in the last dozen of years?

Zhu: If there has been any, it’s only on the appearance of the pictures. And the problem lies on the essence of Chinese ink and wash itself. Ink and wash is a type of art that’s dominated by lines, while color and formation only support the lines. Line is very elastic; a formation based on lines would make color accessorial. If you want to make a painting with all elements, like oil painting, then the lines will be weakened, yet Chinese painting most emphasize on lines. The best meticulous is line drawing, which is the very way to show someone’s skill. The present painting pattern strives for painting feature and partialness. I also tried to do frontal but never succeeded, I tore them up all. There has to be some perspective, this is a barrier of line. When painting I try my best not to use any western painting element. Taking color as an example, as long as the color is available in Chinese Painting pigments I absolutely don’t use Japanese Painting pigments. You see in my paintings British watercolor pigments, propylene pigments, and Japanese pigments is because that the Chinese ink and wash pigments don’t have those colors. As I use perspective, which is only to solve the problems of ink and wash painting. If the ink and wash painting remains stuffy, it’ll only be what it was before.

Li: Ink and wash is not just a simple question of merging into international orbit, but the possibility of internationalization, and the fact that internationalization already exists. Under such circumstances, what course is ink and wash to follow? A new background has come into being, the internationalized stage has become a background that has to be faced, how are we going to cope with it?

Zhu: I think that adhering to what we have already had have become more important.

Li: Like Chinese, to translate it into English, there has to be a translator. And translating certainly will include filtration and misunderstanding. 

Zhu: Misunderstanding means your creation still needs interpretation, which is probably because your conception is yet to be perfect. If you paint with your heart, why would you worry about misunderstanding? Why would you need to interpret?

Li: The forms are different. For instance literature, it has to be translated. And language translation, no matter how good it can be, there has got to be something that’s missing. While painting is a universal language that doesn’t need to be translated. We look at African art, American art, European art, or Chinese traditional art, we don’t need a translator to explain to us.

Zhu: For painting is a very primitive language. 

Li: To enjoy or accept, it’s much easier than words. Word language is largely abstract, needs to be transformed from one system to another. 

Zhu: And needs to be embodied with words.

Li: If translate something from English to Chinese, there are many things that can only be understood in English language system, which can’t be translated in Chinese language system. And wise versa, there are many Chinese that can’t be precisely translated into English. The Beijing dialect, as of many other dialects, is hard to be understood in other places of China that’s out of the Beijing dialect system, not to even mention the English system. This is the very limitation and characteristic of word language. But painting, as a visual language form, is universal. It doesn’t need any translation to be understood. Anyone is able to directly appreciate arts that don’t belong to his system. I was talking about internationalization, and you asked me if you were international? Why do you have such confidence and gut? It means your experiences have already proved that you are. If we look back to this question, we’ll find that painting language wasn’t universal as it is now in the era when communication was obstructed. A certain type of visual graphic was not understandable and appreciated by people who didn’t belong to the cultural system. For example in the Qing Dynasty, both for the westerners to Chinese paintings and Chinese to western paintings, the difficulty of understanding was unbelievable.

Zhu: I think the impact of the Chinese art on the western art was fierce too.

Li: According to the documents of the time, the misunderstanding of the western audiences to the Chinese paintings, and the evaluation of westerners on the weak sculpting ability of the Chinese are enigmatical nowadays. How come the Chinese simply couldn’t paint? In his book Hegel directly said that the Chinese didn’t know plastic arts. Why? Hegel’s reason was: we didn’t know light and shadow perspective. He said we didn’t understand far and near of the light and shadow, this is perspective. So, according to him, the paintings such as Badashanren’s, just sketches of a few things, no background, no nothing, isn’t this blind drawing? Obviously, his judgments were based on western painting system.

Zhu: And the judgments were made hundreds of years ago, he didn’t really understand our painting system. 

Li: What is his problem then? Zou Yigui, a theorist and artist in the Qing Dynasty, when talking about western paintings in his art review, appraised western painters as “artisans though meticulous, not artists”. Hegel said that the Chinese didn’t know what sculpting was, and Zou Yigui said that western painters were craftsmen, could they paint? They were not even painters. So at that time, the misunderstanding on painting between the west and China, and the difference on the evaluation of art were ridiculous seeing from now. But as time passed by, after some time, when the westerners gradually had seen more Chinese paintings, especially had had a better understanding of the Chinese culture system, that they started to discover that the connotation of the Chinese culture wasn’t as simple as they first imagined. And the Chinese also had gradually found out that the western painters were more than just “artisans though meticulous”, the western paintings had a lot of good things that the Chinese painting system didn’t grasp. And to the end of the 19th century, the social reformers even used western painting as a weapon to reform Chinese painting, and undrew a curtain. Once the curtain was undrawn, it had made a great impact on our cultural system and painting system.

Zhu: The attitude of the reformers in the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, to my opinion, was entirely a reaction in haste. A reaction to the swift collapse of their originally complacent cultural state of mind, caused by the aggression against China by the western countries. Now we may think that the reaction was hypercorrect, but if you think on their minds, a vast country as China was, had been ravaged and whacked up by the western countries for a long time, one must be doubtful of the culture and civilization he belonged to. But the thing is the very reason for China’s poverty and weakness at that time, as well as being trampled upon, was due to its political system. The problem of culture had something to do with the system, but down to the concrete issue of art, so many factors were involved, such as aesthetics standpoint, technical characteristic, and picture composition. Such factors can’t be measured with scientific, technological, military, or economical indexes. Their attitudes were influenced by the social factors, not closely contacted with art itself.

Li: Being suppressed by the forceful western culture, the steps of Chinese painting became askew, sometimes marked time and sometimes back and forth. The pace of Chinese painting’s evolvement had been normal, basically linear. But by the end of the 19th century, its step forward became turbulent. 100 years have passed, and a new situation has emerged. The contemporary ink and wash artists create paintings and take their works to the west, the western audiences no longer question whether the painters are Chinese or not? What kind of painting is ink and wash? They stress on painting itself. They like it they buy it. Take you as an example, you say that those who love and appreciate your works are all from the west. And these westerners would not ask “hey, Zhu Wei, who are you? What do you do? What’s the meaning of your paintings?” They don’t need to ask. I think there are at least two reasons for this: first, the long-standing cultural exchange has widened the eyeshot with which the western audiences accept the culture and art of non-western system; second, which is more important, your works match the thought, sentiment, appreciation and palate of the contemporary western audiences. This is because your works are contemporary. If you paint a work that looks like done by ancient Chinese, they perhaps would buy it as a tourist souvenir. However, souvenir and art are completely different things, as if we go to Tibet, Xi’an, or Yunnan and buy these stuff. As a contemporary painter, the contemporary nature in his works is crucial. Although a Chinese painter, you have in fact formed an interpretation relationship with the western ideas and art fanciers. They don’t ask you, and don’t need to pursue the significance of the ethno-symbols in your works, as well as other profundities the works might have. They only consider that as a painting work, they can accept, they are able to appreciate, as simple as this. 

Zhu: These two points nicely illuminate that art is like this: it needs to fulfill people’s aesthetic demand. Just a little bit of taste, a little bit of innovation would make people like it. This is aesthetic function. Frankly, I think painting becomes complicated after being discussed by people. It’s actually very simple. If my paintings, other than decorative functions, can express my thoughts to the audiences, move the audiences, I’d be satisfied. When you study art or academic trends you need to have in-depth understanding, but does such in-depth understanding help one with his creation or one with his appreciation? Many westerners are even ignorant of painting while still buy things that are related to art. He depends on his instinct. Everyone has his instinct. There might be some artists create on instinct, so the both sides instantly reach a sort of connection. Some artists are very famous, such as van Gogh, Picasso, and Richter, etc., because they have become a guarantee of quality, people don’t need to worry about whether they’re worth it or not, just need to worry a little about whether they fit their tastes. To do profound research in art, artists themselves don’t have the necessity, and general collectors don’t have the time. 

Li: The result is rather simple. But sometimes man’s curiosity makes them to explore cause from result, what reasons have caused the result? Foreigners look at your paintings, what makes them fall in love with the paintings at the first sight? The reasons are the two points I just made, one is their eyeshot is wider than before, they can accept things from non-western system. And two is your works have interpretation, they’re different from ancient works, though you still use ink and wash, the form of expression is different, so is the visual effect. This kind of visual effect is close to the historical accumulation of western painting, therefore, your works are not apart from western artistic experience but approaching.

Zhu: I think this is only a coincidence.


Contest between Fan Kuan and van Gogh

Li: The westerners in the early age, their acceptance of Chinese ink and wash were completely driven by the curiosity to exotic culture. While our acceptance of the western culture is not only exotic but wooing the western path. 

Zhu: Now it’s still the same, still exotic culture. The fact that we have to add in social factors when accepting western culture is only Chinese reaction. The west never needs to have oil painting internationalized, never.

Li: The western oil painting never needs to get close to any direction. 

Zhu: So the Chinese ink and wash, the real contemporary Chinese art don’t need to get close to anybody. They are all international, even if an exhibition held by a county cultural center, at the moment of the exhibit, the exhibition is also international. 

Li: It doesn’t seem to be reliable to take an exhibition held by a county culture center as an example. We talk about internationalization, talk about whether one exhibition bears a significance of internationalization, mainly according to two aspects: one is whether if the exhibition has had influence on a certain extension, and whether if it has brought about certain effectiveness. By effectiveness here I mean its influential force. If the Venice Biennale didn’t invite artists from all five continents, didn’t become a focus of all artists and art lovers, and even ordinary audiences, we could not call it an international exhibition. Same with the Canes Film Festival and Oscar. When we call an event international, we base on the international influence the event bring about. Two is that if we call an exhibition held by a county culture center an international event, maybe because it has invited and accepted artists and works of international level, but the most important is, these artists and works have really participated. 

Zhu: Well like van Gogh, put out a few paintings to show them to the people in a small French village, not even an exhibit, but aren’t the paintings international? 

Li: van Gogh’s example and phenomenon doesn’t explain a county exhibition in China’s Gansu or Yunnan. This only proves what I just said about influence. He is familiar to and loved by all the artists and art fanciers from around the world. His works are frenzied in the international market because of his global fame. On the contrary, in a county culture center in places like Gansu or Yunnan, someone, whose works never appeared in any other exhibition, puts on a show by himself, and emerges of itself and perishes of itself after the show, it only means his works are just sketches and exercises of an art fan. It’ll never make an international topic. International means it’s got to be something that artists and art lovers from many many countries pay attention to. So, that’s why I took your works as the beginning of the topic, though people who collect your works have a different state of mind with that of collecting van Gogh and Picasso. Van Gogh and Picasso’s value on the international art stage will keep increasing, increase to a sovereign position. I’ve seen an exhibition register of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, in the last 50 years, the exhibitions with the most audiences were not any grand exhibits, but van Gogh’s solo exhibitions. This is the very proof of van Gogh’s influence. 

Zhu: I have paid my homage to it too. 

Li: Recently a Picasso’s oil painting fetched more than one hundred million US Dollars at the auction, incredible, the record is a victory of Picasso as well as art. Scaled by number, art can draw such a big amount of capital, and the size of that piece of work isn’t big, nor is it Picasso’s magnum opus. Picasso and van Gogh are the most redoubtable in the auction market, last time a van Gogh’s work fetched eighty million US Dollars, amazing! Now Picasso exceeded one hundred million, which shows that there is still space for appreciation. When I read this news I was excited. This shows that the significance of art in people’s life is still increasing. The fact that one would spend so much money on an artwork proves the importance of art in people’s heart. 

Zhu: This is more of a victory of merchant. The role of art here is no more than a donkey with a blinder that’s pulling a millstone. 

Li: The Chinese auction market is becoming more and more hot. There contains many social factors that yet to be decoded. It’s not as simple as spending money on paintings. There are more significances than just buying a piece of painting. Looking at the domestic situation, even the authorities have invested large amount of capital to build the collection system. Moreover, the popular collection is in frenzy… There is an interesting question, just flashed on my mind, when I was talking about 200 years ago the westerners treated the Chinese ink and wash paintings as exotic cultural relics, you chimed in that “now it’s still the same”. Why till now the phenomenon still lasts? 

Zhu: This is understandable. The reason is the current art in the world is still evaluated according to western standard. We can imagine, if the contemporary art was defined by us, we’d also choose the materials and conceptions that we’re familiar with to be the standard. Now we are abandoning our original art that has developed for over thousands of years and using others’ materials and conceptions to strive for others’ recognition. Sticking a hot face on a yet to be cold ass, how are we going to have a future? 

Li: If nothing’s changed, the topic is not a topic. Now because the bulwark lies between the Chinese and western cultural system has been broken, (the Chinese art) is no longer exotic. 

Zhu: (The bulwark) has been broken, it is us who have given in our position and surrendered. You see the nowadays-Chinese contemporary art is full of the shadows of Andy Warhol, Richter, David Hockney, and shadows of the shadows, is there anything Chinese? Can this be called the Chinese contemporary art? You emulate the others, and they take you in the game, what fun do you have? 

Li: These issues to us seem to be unable to grasp and see thorough, why can we never get around them? 

Zhu: It’s because of our inferiority complex. 

Li: Especially the current stage, people have strong psychological expectation to internationalization. They feel that no matter how famous they are on the domestic stage doesn’t compare with a nobody on the international stage. 

Zhu: This is probably a matter of money. 

Li: Not only money. I have met with a lot of artists who are wallow in money, who are much wealthier than we can imagine, who can afford to build a castle, construct a road, etc. But their seriousness on putting up a show in America or Europe is absolutely not a joke. They’re no satisfied by only selling their paintings, they need to impose some influence on the international stage. The influence they take for is to expose themselves in places where the masters once have been to or shown. 

Zhu: It doesn’t matter for an artist to have such thinking. They think it’s internationalized as long as they’ve been there. A few hundred, or even a few thousand painters’ ideas, being put together, make up a virtual prospect of internationalization. 

Li: No matter a few hundreds or thousands, the different impression of internationalization in their minds combined, forms a virtual prospect of internationalization. Just like a mirage. 

Zhu: As when I was small, the teacher asked us to write a composition longing the 21st century: the new century is moment away, let’s countdown, 10, 9, 8… The fact is, open your eyes on the next day, open the door and go out, it’s still the same bitter faces you see everyday. 

Li: Exactly. It only brings us a very shadowy impression. Ah, the new century has come! 

Zhu: The new century has come, you still do whatever you have got to do, and your mind hasn’t changed. 

Li: This comparison is great. This is just the imaginary of artists. This is a penetrating metaphor. Your two parables are pretty sharp. One is hundreds or thousands of painters have gone out, and the definitions of internationalization in their minds combined to form an internationalization mirage. The second is the countdown. As an artist you put forward an analogy like this, it is different from the calm analysis drawn apart from experience. It’s worth being analyzed. The Chinese art in the past, for instance are the Song Dynasty paintings international? What about the Ming and Qing Dynasties? We can ratiocinate along this line, and draw such a conclusion: the excellent works of any country, any nation, and any region are all international. 

Zhu: That’s about it. I keep saying that they’re all international, and they are the mutual wealth of the mankind. 

Li: No matter what time it belongs to, as long as it’s an outstanding piece of work, and contains the universal value of mankind, it’s international. This kind of works may not be recognized in a certain era. 

Zhu: Right. It coincides common aesthetic standard. Van Gogh’s works are very international now, and are considered superexcellent. In the decades before and after he died, nobody knew him. But this doesn’t affect him to be international in the later years. The Song Dynasty paintings, after thousands of years, they are still international. 

Li: I have come up with an example, you just talked about the new century. A western organization, to welcome the coming new century, has selected 100 persons who have made great contributions to the mankind in the last millennium. Among which according to their standard there are five Chinese, and one of them is Fan Kuan, which shows how big an influence he had placed on the world. I felt at the time that this was selected by the west, in spite of their limitation of west centric, they didn’t ignore other parts of the human beings. In their regard, Fan Kuan was a master, was one of the most respectable artists in the last one thousand years. When Fan Kuan was creating such grandiose landscape paintings, what were the western painters doing? In the Middle Ages of the west, there were only artisans painting icons, religious paintings. Of course Gombrich thinks the Middle Ages painting is the best, because it’s schema. This is a judgment based on his own theory. Now you know Fan Kuan is international, but at that time there wasn’t such a term. He was a master of one thousand years, a most representative artist on earth, and made great contribution to painting. 


Rules of Internationalization

Zhu: Now (the definition of) internationalization has been clarified. As long as a thing shown in a county cultural center is international, it may produce international influence. 

Li: So internationalization is not a desire. As if in America, Germany, or France, despite their territorial advantage and how many activities that might have some international influence they have held, the works shown in these activities aren’t necessarily going to be international. But your example of county cultural center is too general. 

Zhu: I use this as an example, is only to extremize the issue. Thus I can make the concept of internationalization clear. If I take provincial art museum as example people would still misunderstand my point. 

Li: It is an extreme example. 

Zhu: Here’s another example, I won’t have a motorcade in my wedding, and I won’t have a bunch of people whom I don’t necessarily know to have a banquet, but the formality won’t change the fact that I’m married. Though I don’t have a grand wedding ceremony I am wedded, and my marriage is a real existence. 

Li: The reality exists. You’re married. As I just said, internationalization is not an activity locale, it’s historical, is gradually born in practice. 

Zhu: Right. The quality of my marriage is high, though I don’t have the ritual. But I am in fact married. So, if everyone understands this, they wouldn’t have been so anxious. 

Li: The wedding example you provided just explains that you don’t want the ostentation and extravagance, but you can’t make others not to have the ritual. Many people think it’s necessary. Wedding is a social formula. 

Zhu: According to what you said, then people who don’t have the ritual would all be cohabiting illegally. 

Li: There is a funny example: I have a friend, who has got married and obtained the marriage certificate, and a new home has been settled too. Later his wife has got pregnant, but the parents of both sides didn’t consider them married, because they didn’t have a motorcade swaggering the streets, and yet a banquet… So the parents said how could you call this a marriage? Banquet and motorcade are even more important than the marriage certificate, that’s called a marriage, that’s what the concept of getting married is. 

Zhu: This is the problem of standard. I think there’s a problem, let’s still use wedding as an example. You marry to a woman, you cheat her that you only want to have a banquet but not the certificate, she would definitely disagree. Because without the certificate your relationship is not essential. You ask 10 girls and none of them would agree. Everybody knows the issue is essential. 

Li: The little girls are sharp, only the certificate guarantees that the marriage is real. The law only recognizes the certificate, not the ceremony forced by the parents. The little girl understands, a hundred tables of banquet is useless, a hundred rounds of motorcade parade is meaningless. The understanding of internationalization is the same. 

Zhu: Bright Mr. Li! 

Li: All of those artists who desire for internationalization should learn from the little girl. They need to learn what is the essential of the question. For art, if you are not accepted by the art history in the future, everything you do is nonsense. 

Zhu: Each art camp must have its own uniqueness, and combined to give the art activities internationalism. 

Li: When I was talking about Fan Kuan, and internationalization, I have talked about this issue. The Chinese had already created such meticulous and lofty paintings at that time, if the contemporaries want to continue the resplendence, on visual quomoto they must not grub for small things, minor details and nonessentials. 

Zhu: Some people’s ability is only enough to do those. Painters can only create in their power. I have many subject matters that I can’t paint. Painters’ way is different from that of critics. This is a technical matter. 

Li: I also often quote a writer’s words in my articles, many times already: “a writer can’t write what he wants to write, he can only write what he’s able to write.” This is truly like an incantation. You often go to America and Europe, what you have seen is different from what they have. For instance what Liu Wenxi was facing in his golden age of creation were only old farmers and yellow earth. So besides old farmers and yellow earth, what else could he paint? 

Zhu: That’s right. If he painted something else, then he’s a cheater. “Brush and ink go with the time”. 

Li: You have to admit that all kinds of elements in your works, like chemical reaction, are changing. 

Zhu: Yes, my change is obvious and yet a gradual process. 

Li: This kind of change is subtle and exerted slowly. It’s not like a switch, pah, light is on, and pah, light is off. It’s not so obvious. One can tell from your books. After the “9×11”, you have gone to America once again… 

Zhu: Twice. 

Li: You have personally been to the scene, and it’s impossible that your feelings aren’t affected. This is like to inject some drug into your brain nerves, it’s invisible, it may not be within your eyeshot, but it’s in effect. I showed your paintings to people, friends both in and out art circles, and they actually all say (the paintings) have something to do with “9×11”. 

Li: Some artists may not care about the national economy and people’s livelihood, not concerned with the world affairs, not moved with the heaviness of being… such as sufferings and stresses, they may be ignorant to all these. But not all of the artists can ignore. 

Zhu: I feel I’m very concerned. 

Li: In the literature circles in the 80’s and 90’s there’s such a point of view that creation has to keep away from politics, and a real good work is independent of politics. I’m not totally against the idea, nor a hundred per cent for it. Why? If the writers of the entire society all care about politics, it’s abnormal. On the contrary, if none of the writers in a society cares about politics, it’s abnormal too. 

Zhu: I think you don’t need to worry about this too much. There must be some who care. As the rule of market it accommodates itself. The rule is not only applied to economy, and it’s not that there is only market economy and market rule. All aspects of the society have their own rules, and they all have an invisible hand that is adjusting. 

Li: Evading is the main attitude many contemporary writers and artists adopt. It has become a bomb shelter. 

Zhu: You evade, but it still influences you. 

Li: Zero influence. So many works created by writers and artists, what contemporary predicament have these works reflected? 

Zhu: …… 

Li: And there are people who have said that now China is in transition, a time for great masters and great works to emerge. What do you think? 

Zhu: Time of transition produces good works, this is a pure bullshit. Art creation is not cooking, that you must throw the food into the pot when cooking oil is hot. Art creation needs sedimentation. 

---- August, 2004








朱伟,1966年生于北京,是目前最具国际声誉的当代水墨画家。先后就学于解放军艺术学院、北京电影学院、中国艺术研究院。自1993年起以中国水墨画在国际大型展览露面,在世界各地举办个人展览二十多次。先后出版六种不同版本的个人绘画专集、回顾专集。国际著名的亚洲当代艺术画廊Plum Blossoms曾在全球独家代理其作品12年。作品先后被国内外二十余家美术馆、博物馆收藏。