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Interview with Li Shan


Interviewer: Teacher Li, we hope that we could know more about your art language since your language has always been regarded as the most avant-garde in the contemporary art.

Li Shan: I have my vocabulary which is my own and wholly belongs to myself…I want to use my own language when narrating things. What would happen if an artist was lack of his own language?

Interviewer: Before you started to create "Reading Series", "Rouge Serious" had been your symbols and caught long-term attention from the academic circle. So what do you think if your  "Rouge Serious"?

Li Shan: "Rouge" is a process of growth.

Interviewer: Teacher Li., when we read our "reading series", we often feel to be driven by a power, the seemingly free and random paintings are full of unusual thoughts. What do you want to express?

Li Shan: When I create, I give up many things which are essentially the obstacles. I have been pursuing freedom through my whole life. I wish my art free, too. Creating "Reading Series" is actually a process of pursuing freedom.

Interviewer: Just now you mentioned a word "vocabulary", Could you explain what it means?

Li Shan: Vocabulary is a language form you want to use for description! When we are under study, we prefer to be a poet since a poet uses refined language which requires constant modification. But I want to express by using my vocabulary, and my language is definitely not the language of a poet or a proser. I want to narrate in a popular, direct and concise way without any modification. By getting rid of modifying words, the subject, verb and object become very clear. However the audience or readers of nowadays have got used to poet's language and their modification but could not figure out the plain language. Therefore, they could not understand mine and they often question: why did he write (or paint) like that? I want to be understood but I couldn't. People get used to the modified language and they don't converse with me. I am confused and very much lonely.

Interviewer: This time Hosane will auction your "Reading"(Ten Pieces),which is a 10-metre painting consisting of ten pieces. There are 10 sets of western styled symbols applied. Could you help us to comprehend these symbols and the work itself?

LI Shan: This Set of "Reading" is the largest plane work I have ever made. My childhood memory is well reflected in these symbols. These symbols not westernized but of Chinese folk style even though they look so foreign. These symbols are exactly the ones from the local playing-cards of northern east China. They come from my childhood memory-I grew up in northern east and at that time we made cards by pasting paper together and drawing the symbols such ad 3 characters and 6 Bamboos. It is my most satisfying work which combined my childhood memory and the content of "Reading Series". These symbols never appeared before. I once painted Mao holding a flower by his lips, which is of great conflict and impact. "Reading" is a conflict in terms of thinking. Such conflict is more about phenomenon and vocabulary, As to the conflict between folk symbols and reading symbols, why are there different backgrounds? Why do the traces of the manuscript remain? In fact, they are not made on purpose. What I have considered is to present these symbols and just these symbols for the others to me are all unnecessary.

From《Hosane 2009 spring auction》

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