Zhang Yexing Studio Visit

Eli Zagury: When did you decide to become and artist and why?

Zhang Yexing: I should have graduated from university. I’ve always really loved painting, but because I got bad results in my English exam when graduating from high school, I wasn’t accepted into the Oil Painting Department, and majored in Animation instead. However, I still wanted to paint, so when I graduated, I didn’t go on to look for work like my course mates did, but rented a studio with a couple of other people. Although my main source of income relied on working as a substitute teacher and supervising exams, I was able to start painting independently, which made me very happy. I really enjoyed this kind of lifestyle.


EZ: Your works look very well planned out in composition, technique and light and colour tones. Do you carefully plan your paintings, or do you follow a sketch or draft out the composition on the canvas beforehand and then carefully follow it?

ZYX: I don’t sketch very much, but I spend a long time carefully planning out each of my paintings.


EZ: Interiors and patterns are some of your primary foci in your painting, are you building this painting from your imagination? Are they based on photos you shot or found images or magazines?

ZYX: I take shots myself and I am also looking for ready-made photographs, but regardless of whether I shot them myself or it’s a ready-made image, they are all carefully selected according to a selection process.


EZ: I found that the most exciting thing in your past work is the way you render light on repetitive patterns or surfaces. It can be a rag, wallpaper, wooden floor or a simple flat wall. What attract you so much to these “banal to boring” subjects?


ZYX: Art comes to life of its own, to the greatest extent, I usually try to pick circumstances which resemble my own life style as a starting point for my images.


EZ: Who are your favourite artists in Asia and the in the West?

ZYX:My favourite Asian artist is Wang Xingwei, there are many Western artists that I like, I can’t highlight one above others, they tend to change according to the stage where I am.

As a young artist working in China in the aftermath of the “Boom” in contemporary art market, do you find the atmosphere around you pessimistic and gloomy? Does it affect your creation your thoughts? 

ZYX:I don’t think that the atmosphere in the art market has had a particularly strong influence on my work, or at least it doesn’t have much influence on me anymore. I am more interested in whose work is good.


EZ: Can you tell us about the body of work you are currently working on for your show next year? From what I saw in your studio there were quite a few new things, larger work with much more details in them and even a large portrait. Are you planning to create more of them? Will you exhibit them all together?

ZYX:I am still working on my solo exhibition, I want to do a core body of work for them to be completed either this year or the next.


EZ: You recently started to work with Platform China gallery, do you find it as a new home for you? Are you spending time with some of their artists?

ZYX:I think the collaboration with Platform is growing bit by bit, several of Platform China’s artists are good teachers and helpful friends, there are a few with whom we often have get-togethers.


EZ: Which international artists have informed or inspired you?

ZYX: There are so many artists that inspired and motivated me, like Edward Hopper, Freud, etc. all had a very important impact on me.

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