EX: 1/30/2012
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2012.11.24 Sat, by Translated by: Fei Wu
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Creativity
Liu Wei discusses his ideas about freedom, perception and art interpretation
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In light of Liu Wei’s recent solo exhibition at Long March Space in Beijing, randian sought out the artist in his studio located on the outskirts of Beijing to discuss media, social intervention, consumerist culture and creativity in a post-industrial world.

Liang Shuhan: Oil was the initial medium you learned and began to work with. Later, you transitioned into multi-media art using different materials and formats. Is there a reason you moved from the singular to the plural?

Liu Wei: It was a natural transition. When we were in school, there was only oil paint; the mediums we have now didn’t exist. But I couldn’t remain frozen on the easel and in painting, because society was transitioning, so this progression was inevitable.

Another reason is that our school (China Academy of Art) was a very progressive place. As soon as I entered the [CAA] affiliated middle school, I heard people talking about Andy Warhol. That’s why it wasn’t likely for me to assume that drawing was the “be all and end all” of artistic expression. I realized that drawing didn’t count for everything at an early age. Our academy had an excellent library; you could find the best magazines of the time there. So I came in contact with a lot of things and didn’t remain fixed in the second dimension.

LSH: Many of your works have a hint of the political in them. For example in your current exhibit at Long March Space you’ve used army green materials. In addition, your works “Love It, Bite It” and “Do Not Touch” easily cause onlookers to associate them with political matters. Is this a method of using art to create a link, or rather, using art as a connection?

LW: You could say there’s a connection. We encounter politics in everyday life, so it’s impossible to separate life from politics. On an important level, politics must exist, that’s why my works do relate to them. As for what methods I’ve used to connect the two, I cannot say because superficial connections have no meaning. Expressing the political leanings I may hold is meaningless. Whether art can truly affect politics, I can’t draw a conclusion, but I feel there is a way. At present it’s not a clear-cut, obvious way, and it won’t be a slogan we can shout; slogans are devices that politicians use. Art takes a different approach, one that is at the forefront in terms of innovation, one that leads the way.

Also, action itself is political. You can’t say, “Now I will create a political work,” and you can’t separate art from politics because the act of creating the work is in itself political and simultaneously artistic. Conversely, you can’t say, “this is art,” in an attempt to define something. The two are created simultaneously. Sometimes, art is defined suddenly; at some point in time, in some location in space, something becomes art. Politics works this way too; you can’t just slap a label on something and tell people it is politics. Something acquires its political nature under the right circumstances.

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