Together with art collective RunShi (润识), GoEast is exhibiting Banana Wang (王香蕉)’s colorful bulldog paintings. The small exhibition runs until December 22nd, and provides the perfect excuse to come for a coffee at our Yangpu campus in Shanghai, besides coming for Chinese classes.
Here we sit down with Banana to ask her about her work.
Jaap: Do you think art should have a higher meaning or purpose?
Banana: Hmmm. I want to put myself in the history books. As for the message, my art doesn’t come with a fixed meaning. It’s open for the viewer to find. It’s not difficult, just happy, that’s all.
J: How did you get to this style?
B: My major in art academy was sculpture, and for one class we went to the Jaanxi province to do pottery. I brought a picture of my dog, and I really liked that photo. I didn’t continue with it through pottery, because I think it’s very limited. I like painting more, experimenting with colors and compositions.
J: Is there something typically Chinese about your work?
B: I’m local Shanghainese but I don’t go to lots of art exhibitions here. If I put elements of my Chinese life in my work then I need to paint something that looks like a photograph. So I don’t think there’s a lot of typical Chinese elements in my work. I try to do something different. I think I have more freedom than other young Chinese-artists. During art education everyone needed to paint like the teacher. I never wanted to do that. I’ve never gone abroad before, but I think the Chinese education, also art education, is about doing what the teacher says. Foreigners usually are more creative and do whatever they want.
J: Is Chinese culture tolerant of artists? Not only academy but also the relationship between parents and family?
B: The condition is strict in China. To be an artist isn’t seen as a proper career. But I guess it’s similar in many countries. What can you do? Just work hard and focus on your goal.
J: Are there any artists who inspire you？
B: I’m not really inspired by other artists. Maybe Van Gogh, that’s the one I like.
J: Your small paintings have notes on the back. What is on the notes?
B: It’s a mixture of instructions and a collection certificate, with some private notes for the buyer. I have a big goal. I want to paint 1000 variations, and then I invite all the collectors to come and do the exhibition— and have a party together.
J: Do you have a message to Chinese learners from GoEast that’ll come to see your work?
B: If you’re in a bad mood, come here and have a happy day!