Peking Kunst

Interview with Shi Jiongwen

Shi Jiongwen graduated from Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts. She's currently working and living in Beijing. The "line" in her works is a simple element. It has gone through a long process from being details to the main body of the work. The lines and colours are the records of the time.
Shi-Jiongwen_Erwin-Wurm_Follow the Rabbit, Museum Liaunig 2023_Follow the Rabbit, Museum Liaunig 2023.jpg.
Alfred Klinkan, Die Pforte, 1974–1975. Erwin Wurm, Fat Car, 2004. Peter Kogler, Weltkugel, 2012. Erwin Wurm, untitled, 1985. Shi Jiongwen 史泂⽂, The first Light of the Universe, 2021. Kiki Kogelnik, Ameisenfalle, 1985. Rote Ameise, 1985. Rudi Stanzel, Reformel 3, 2018. Foto: Museum Liaunig

Interweaving, entanglement, and overlapping, the whole creation process is more like narrating rather than painting. To explain the meaning of her work, she thinks the world is chaotic and unclear, and she herself is at a loss. Many questions within lead her to express it in a certain way. She believes the audience have their own ways to find the answers.

Could you provide us with more insight into how the concept of time intertwines with your creative process and how it manifests itself in your art through the use of lines and colors?
For me, time is mysterious and uncertain. Humans created and defined the concept of time, and it encompasses every day, every minute, and every second of our current lives. Time is both eternal and fleeting. It is also an intuitive feeling that is boundless and infinite.

The „line“ in my work is the most basic and simple element, which has gone through a long process from being a mere detail to becoming the main subject. Creating art occupies a significant part of my life, and every second and every intertwining of lines feels like a record, a way of documenting with lines. Therefore, one could say that I am not so much painting with lines as manifesting my time with lines.

Shi-Jiongwen_Erwin-Wurm_Follow the Rabbit, Museum Liaunig 2023_Follow the Rabbit, Museum Liaunig 2023.jpg.
Shi Jiongwen, The first Light of the Universe (detail), 2021.  Erwin Wurm, Ohne Titel / untitled, 1985. Foto: Museum Liaunig

How do you create your works? What is your creative process like?
The process of my work is quite dull. It starts after lunch every day and continues until midnight, in the same routine. As long as I am in Beijing, this is pretty much the life I lead. I have music and the radio as a company, and I really enjoy this solitary working time.

What are the main themes behind your work?
Over the past two years, my idea has been to gradually abandon specific concepts and images, and the theme may be about the formless and the intangible. I seek patterns within the initial disorder of lines and explore the relationship between chaos and order. Sometimes, artists tend to search for concrete images and events as themes, and then provide interpretations to give meaning to their works. But what is the essence of this meaning?

Christian-Schwarzwald_Wolfgang-Ernst_Li-Qing_Shi-Jiongwen_Wang-Lei_Alois-Mosbacher_Manfred-Wakolbinger_Follow the Rabbit, Museum Liaunig 2023
Christian Schwarzwald, Wolfgang Ernst Li Qing, Shi Jiongwen, Wang Lei, Alois Mosbacher, Manfred Wakolbinger. Foto: Museum Liaunig

How do you perceive the relationship between the artist and the audience?
An artist’s creation is a highly personal matter. When the process of creating a piece of art comes to an end, the artist has completed his/her work, and the rest is left to the audience. The audience will have their own unique experiences and feelings, and each viewer will have his/her own interpretation.

You like to work with ink. What is special about ink for you?
There is also paper, the combination of ink and paper is perfect. The ink seeps into the paper, and the paper quickly absorbs the ink, layer by layer, repeating the process. Even when fully covered, you can still see the traces left by the ink. The union of ink and paper doesn’t require a thick texture, yet you can still sense a powerful force within it.

Shi Jiongwen_Enlargement (detail), 2022, ink on paper, 110x1000cm_Courtesy of the artist_Follow the Rabbit, Museum Liaunig 2023
Shi Jiongwen, Enlargement (Detail), 2022, ink on paper, 110x1000cm, Courtesy BMCA

One of your works is called „The first light of the Universe“. What does the work refer to?
It is truly the first light of the universe. I am painting the Cosmic Microwave Background, which is the afterglow released during the Big Bang. All the light in our world comes from here. The first time I learned about the Cosmic Microwave Background, I found it incredibly beautiful and romantic. That’s when I decided to paint it in my own way.

As an artist living and working in Beijing, how does the city’s environment and culture influence your art and creative process?
Beijing should be one of the cities in China with the most artists. It was also in Beijing that I began my journey as an independent artist.

You have been to Austria several times. When will you be back? Is there an exhibition planned?
I visit Austria almost every year, I go to Austria for exhibitions, and my visits to Vienna have even exceeded the number of times I’ve been to Shanghai. I hope to rent a studio in Vienna next year so that I can work there for a period each year, rather than just brief visits every time.

And one last question. how do you spend the summer?
Summers in Beijing are really hot. I normally spend time working and don’t go anywhere else. I just work in my studio to avoid the heat.

Shi Jiongwen –