While writing my final thesis, I realized two interviews: you have just read the first one with Zhang Hongtu, a Chinese artist now based in USA.
Today I will report my speech with Sheng Qi. He is a Chinese artist too, and, as well as Zhang, he is a representative of Mao-art. In 1989 he moved to London, then returned in Beijing in 1998, but moved to London again in 2010, where he currently lives.
His art goes through various medium. A relevant theme has been the study of the body language and its culture. The remarkable dripping pattern of paintings, inspired by Pollock, with which Sheng Qi portrays people and places, gives us a sense of decay and darkness. People are quite always hidden behind shadow (which sometimes is Mao-shaped), they seem scared, almost like if they feel obliged to certain actions, deprived of freedom. Looking at his paintings we may perceive the dark side of China, the same side that, even if ceaselessly running towards the future, actually remains blocked in its political mess.
Sheng Qi is very famous all around the world, not only for his extraordinary art, but also for the brave action he performed during 1989’ protests, cutting off his little finger from the left hand and burying it in a flower pot.
The interview you find below is focused on the use of Mao icon in his art. Hope you will appreciate it and find it useful.
1. 1972年沃霍尔绘了《毛泽东》。您什么时候知道这样的信息吗 ?？什么是您的反应？
In 1972 Andy Warhol painted “Mao Zedong”. When did you realize it for the first time? What was your first impression?
I knew it only in 1991. I was astonished by his blue face.
What do you remember about his image? How does the diffusion of his icon weight on your artistic style?
They all were common images. Every poster had become ornamental. This was in the style of propaganda posters.
When Mao died, you were still young, so why he is so important in your art?
I was brainwashed, he is impossible to remove.
4. 90年代传播“毛热”，您觉得为什么？ 艺术家想说什么? 你们的艺术品是一个对西方艺术家跟毛、中国政治有关的画的反应，还是你们要抒发你们的情面、愤怒、惧怕等等？
During the 90’s in China spread Mao Fever, why do you think it happened? What did artists really want to communicate? Were your works a reaction to the western art, rich of connection with Mao and Chinese History, or the wish to express your feeling, anger and fear?
That was a political campaign promoted by radicals. My art is ironic, it tries to ridicule the classic art.
A lot of artists, even without a real contact with Mao era, paint Mao. Why do you think it is possible?
I don’t know.
What encouraged you to paint for the first time? In which way did you begin to paint?
I just wanted to express something.
Your works have a deep influence on me, especially the dripping technique. It lets me think that China is losing its original feature following the process of time. Is it that way?
I appreciate your understanding. Yes, it’s quite right.
The technique you use is “dripping”. This lets me think about Jackson Pollock, am I right?
Yes, there is a connection between us. It is a way of painting, it is random.