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In the Studio with Ye Zhaofeng

Ye Zhaofeng is a contemporary visual artist exploring the themes surrounding a fast growing society. He captures scenes of the everyday 'normal' that expose the pressures of society, where a scene can appear to be bustling, but loneliness is abundant on closer inspection. We met with Zhaofeng Ye to discuss his education, when he begun to think of himself as an artist, and find out what mobilised change in his practice.

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

Slowly, during the process of writing a diary. Thinking outside of college I began to consider my life and work in this way.

Where are you from and what was your upbringing like? How has this impacted your work?
 
I was born in WuXi, JiangSu, China, but have lived and studied in Hangzhou for 9 years. Those 9 years of college art education has given me good painting techniques and observational methods. But my individual life experiences have effected my cognition and judgment towards society. In terms of works, I combine my perspective and my observation of life around me, but with my personality, so that my works  are still realistic, but more free.
 
Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. Have you gone through the traditional route of art school and what was your experience?  
 

I studied in the high school attached to the China Academy of Art. For university, I studied at the China Academy of Art studying in oil painting. Now I’m a graduate student and I still have the same major and studio.  In fact, I have been very accepting of the traditional route of art school. 

What’s the message of your work? How would you describe your aesthetic?
 
My working message, maybe it’s my life’s path you could say, is regarding everyone’s life experiences. NO narratives, but it has themes and purpose. I describe the life experiences which I see before me that are the same as mine. I worry about it and I think why is everyone like this. My subjects are from life, my life, your life, everyone’s lives, and they confuse you and feel real at the same time.  About my aesthetic, maybe it’s very special.

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

Yes, I have plans for my works. 

When they view it, I hope the audience can see themselves, and think to themselves that maybe their rhythm of my life should slow down and they should spend more time relaxing and feeling happiness.  The audience is the party of my works, but I’m a part of the audience too.

Who and what are your greatest influences?

My mom. She teaches me how to live, how to get along with others, what kind of mindset can make us live in this world better. Lifestyle influences the way I see the environment surrounding my life. At the same time it influences my work’s themes and purpose.

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

Good working environment, clean painting colours and brushes. The important condition is sensibility.

What events in your life have mobilised change in your practise? How has your art evolved? 

1.Passing through college. 

2.Graduate creating.

3.The first work ‘Momentary Nightmare I’.

4. When I begin to creating some landscapes using watercolour.

 From traditional creation to free development. From one medium to now using an Ipad, oil painting, watercolour. My parameters reside in the subject matter, although I use different mediums the core of the works are same. Experiment, always. 

What are your goals for the future?

Making the original series better and continuing to create new works. I would like to make my original series of works blend together. Then I hope I can hold an individual solo exhibition.

How have you been keeping creative during isolation?

Keeping a diary everyday is very important, it’s just like talking to yourself. Always talk with each other and listen carefully, but still keep thinking independently. Don’t deny yourselves creativity.

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