In the Studio with Shunshun Qi

In the studio with Shunshun Qi, a contemporary visual artist whose works focus on vivid colors and the gestures of people. We met with Shunshun to tell us more about growing up in China, her greatest influences, and unexpected sources of inspiration.

When did you first begin to see yourself as an artist?

When I finished BA in History of art. I found out that I am an artist rather than a historian.

Where are you from and what was your upbringing like?

I am from China. I grew up in a middle class family. My parents also work in the art industry.They are really supportive. However, their relationship between each other was not very well. Growing up in that kind of tense environment made me pay very much attention to daily emotions. That was my first inspiration on articulating intimacy.

Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. What inspired you to first pursue, and then continue to practice artistic work? 

Narration plays a huge role in my practice. I would always think of a plot for my paintings. Reading and looking are taking place at the same time when my work are presented. The erge of articulation hunts me. I need to record my life and collect pieces of memories. I need a tableau to work on. From doodling on a piece of paper to paint on canvas, every move is a way of story telling.  No experience is so unique that it was outside if the experience of others. But I drew what I truly knew.

What’s the message of your work? Where do they come from? 

The main focus of my work is intimacy. I am very interested in the relations between people, especially a romantic relationship. My work created a predicament of intimacy which is built by two people. 

Who & what are your greatest influences?  

I would say my mother. She is a great artist herself and also a very supportive and encouraging person. She unconditionally supported my career and guided me.

An unexpected source of inspiration?

Normally I drew from my own life experiences. However I recently found out that I could resonate with other people’s stories also. So now I also use movie scenes, songs, sometimes conversation with others as reference.   

What do you want people to take from your work when they view it?

I do have audience in mind when I create. I collected memory moments and write them down on papers. Sometimes only a few sentences. Those sentences are the dialogue behind my paintings. I don’t write these sentences down on my paintings, I hope my audience could read it or feel it when they are looking at my work.

What events in your life have mobilized change in your practice?

No specific ones that I could think of. I used to consider my works as some sort of medicine leading audience to face their inner feelings. But now I simply think of my work as my own experience of life.

What are your ideal conditions or catalyst for creating a “good” piece of work?

A good piece of work could resonate with others, either the authoor my self or the viewers. If I want to express triste, for example, I want the painting could be so powerful that I would immediately feel depressed when I look at it.  

Tell us the inspiration behind your works?

The Late Night Series – When you lying with your loved ones, do you feel close to him/her? I guess we do. Lying together with our loved ones must be one of the happist moments in our lives. However, when I open our eyes during the darkness of the night, I realize how different we really are. It seems that you are together with a person, but you are compelety alone all of a sudden. The touch, the smell are so true, but the emptiness is also true.I started to think, what is the boundary between intimacy and isolation? Does it mean the loneliness stop once we are comitted to some one?  

Something in the future you hope to explore?

In the future I am going to discuss more about intimacy. Put it within a border debates. And also try to think less and spend more time on the painting process itself .