Our first dispatch from Beijing comes from Pedro Perez-Guillon MFA 2017
News from Beijing!
I have to start by saying that China has only surprised us in a positive way. First of all - the food. We have never eaten better and for so little money. For six dollars, we have been eating until we cannot take any more and our unable to finish clearing our plates. It is a good thing that in China, this is considered a sign of good manners!
|Arriving at the studios!|
It is not just the food is amazingly cheap, but also art materials. This has been particularly great, because we didn't even bring one brush to Beijing, and I think, up to this point, each one of us has more materials here in Beijing than what we have ever had back at home in our studios.
|My Acrylics Setup|
|My Winsor oils… for two dollars each!!!!|
The price of materials has been a freeing element for all of us, allowing us to work in ways we were never able to work before. Isaac and Amina bought huge canvases that can fit all four of us inside. Tania and I are painting in thick layers of oils, using a lot of paint with no guilt.
|Amina´s Huge canvas|
Isaac doing his incredible plein-air pile painting
|Tania´s studio setup (working on Paper)|
The heat and smog do exist, but not nearly as terrible as we imagined. The Beijing air feels much fresher than New York in this time of the year, and the pollution is only a motivating factor, keeping me from going outside and getting sunburnt. Isaac even managed to get a bike and bikes everywhere himself. Me and Tania are thinking of starting to run in the CAFA sports area in the mornings.
|Amina preparing the color chords for her huge painting|
|The great studio of Isaac with his Freudian couch|
The city is very safe and people are friendly and nice. The only issue is that most of them don't speak a word of English, the body language is completely different, and so it is almost impossible to get our point across. But, despite all of this, we manage to communicate well enough.
|Eating with some friends|
|In our studio visit to Peace Beijing artist Qiu Xiofei (amazing)|
Beijing is a very fun city, and has an interesting and active cultural scene, not just in the mainstream art zones, such as 798, but also in the Hutongs, where new emerging galleries are opening every week. The art life in the Hutongs seems more fresh, young, and honest than what I have seen in other cities. The art scene is contemporary, international, and seems to be very open to welcoming new artists. We have all become fascinated with it, and are dreaming of coming back here again sometime.
The established artists of 798, like Ai Weiwei or Zhan Wang are also remarkably interesting. In their work, they synthesize a story and clear international contemporary language with an interest in reinterpreting their own Chinese traditional art and culture. I have been studying the art and philosophy of Ancient China, with great fascination, and incorporating their principles in my own practice.
|My traditional tool kit.. and some other eccentricities|
|Working on this chinese icon over greek icon|
In the studio we have a good set up. I am working on four big tables, and developing two projects.
In the first project, I am using the traditional Chinese painting tools to do a series of suggested landscapes with ink on rice paper and silk. For the second project, I am doing a series of portraits based on the painting of Mao that is hanging on the Tienanmen Square; obsessively repeating the image as an icon, each time deconstructing the figure more and more in search of a personal pictorial language. In this process I am also reinterpreting some of the principles described by Shitao and others in the ancient Chinese treaty on painting as a way to redirect my on practice.
|A couple of versions of my numerous “Mao Portraits”|
A journey of deconstruction
Unexpectedly, this trip has opened new doors into a thinking and image-making that will inform my studio practice and thesis research for the next year. I am very happy about this opportunity, and I have decided to miss my flight home and stay in China... Well, maybe I will come back again later.
|Two less serious versions|
|Having fun with this one|
Thanks to Beijing Central Academy of Fine Art and to the New York Academy of Art for this amazing residency! And thanks to my dear travel mates, who are the best and most easy going people ever!
Xie Xie and see you later!