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Zinan is a young and polyhedric contemporary Chinese artist who finds his routes and his inspirations in many forms of arts.
He studied Fashion Design in the University of Shenzhen, graduated in 2007, but already in 2003 he started working on his first graffiti, first composed of letters and then, from 2005, focusing more on landscapes, that he found much more involving.
He feels a particular attraction for the spontaneity of nature that clearly shows a freshness that, according to Zinan, the urban context has lost because of its huge number of people and because of a certain kind of frenzy that characterizes it.
In 2012 he moved to Shanghai which he thinks is the most stimulating city in China for a young contemporary artist, thanks to the artistic ferment present on the metropolis. On the contrary, he was finding Shenzhen a bit limited in terms of culture and sources of inspiration.
Because of his need to explore the world, he engaged himself in many travels in China and abroad. He loved the landscapes of Yunnan province, Tibet, Thailand and the Cambodian jungle that gave him a strong energy, essential for his artistic creations.
He had the chance to explore the American street art, during his stay in Los Angeles and Hawaii, and to deeply analyse Italian Renaissance art during his stay in Florence, where he was particularly fascinated by the sculptures.
All these elements had a strong impact on him and gave him the possibility to closely face western symbols, who became an important source of inspiration for him. This hunger of achieving new skills and getting to know new realities, shapes this artist.
He attended festivals in New York, Hong Kong (HKWalls) and Japan where he exhibited his essential and clear painting style, characterised by the use of geometrical shapes and simple colours, representing, most of all, natural subjects. He recently did a collaboration with Nike Campus in Shanghai and also worked with Louis Vuitton (design of a foulard).
He has always experimented many kinds of supports such as wood, acrylic, LED and canvas.
Zinan and his collaborator Didi are the founders of OOP SUPPLY, a brand whose products are street wear clothes, everyday goods and prints portrayed in a series of T-shirt, discovering the close relationship between fashion and visual arts.
They will challenge themselves in a new project starting from October 2017, consisting of a documentary of a “one month trip” throughout the marvellous sceneries of Vietnam and Laos where they will explore the natural and urban settings of this places, while making murals and installations using local materials, recreating and reinterpreting them into something new.
Every artwork, once finished, will be left to local people...
Hi Simon, first, how do you define yourself: as an abstract painter or a street artist, or even something else?
I started being involved in painting ten years ago with the graffiti, I was fifteen years old and loved industrial spaces spending long time over there. I started taking pictures there paying attention in geometric figures that started to construct my work.
Six years ago I took distance from the graffiti focusing on abstract art.
I always pay attention on the deconstruction of lines and art structures. At first I was affraid of putting colours on my paintings and I started experimenting with wood made works based on the detraction of lines, and see what could happen ! They are like collages of wood panels.
All the time I try to deconstruct lines.
What about the use of lights in your paintings ?
The light of the sun gives movement and mark the shadow lines. Light is monochrome, like my paintings, I only paint during the day.
What do you think about the relationship between art and architecture? Are you inspired by an architect in particular?
I have a friend who is an architect and we made some collaborations. I like the tension between construction and deconstruction with an open minded approach. Construction in industrial spaces is essential for me. Architecture always deals with my paintings somehow. I really like the oblique, like the French architect Claude Perron who focuses on this shape. I am used to take pictures of urban buildings to take inspiration for my paintings. I really use photography because it structures my approach, on lights and lines.
Why did you come to China?
I wanted to escape of France and see what happens here very far away from home. I think that, in this context of globalisation, you can have a thorough idea of the contemporary world. I am now aware of what happens here in a different environment and here I have more chances to explore and take pictures.
As a foreigner it’s more challenging for me and I have more chance to explore my self and my art style so I got to know better myself in China than in France.
Which are your main sources of inspiration?
Constructivism, futurist approach and aesthetic and the Avant Gardes that have construct and deconstruct lines like the cubism.
Graffiti art is very important for me, it gives me energy and adrenaline for the fast and spontaneous way I use.
I did a performance in china in January that deals with tension. I made it in basements 6 (a Shanghai based art center). My body was involved in scratching the wall while I was blocked by two strings as a fight against the world. I wanted to employ my body until I was exhausted challenging myself. It was like a painting act but not painting. I took very high pleasure to do that.
Tapes stripes help me to have straight lines in my paintings, it is the tool of tension, I like to continue talking about painting in every form of my art, even if it’s not painting.
What do you thing about the influence that graffiti art had on you?
Graffiti art is like dancing sometimes. It was my first step in the art world so my approach has always had a relationship with graffiti. Graffiti art keeps going also in my abstract art. It is very interesting to see the changing scene of graffiti art during time, it changed a lot in the last fifty years. I want to keep updated about contemporary graffiti art news and sometimes I still paint some walls. “Wose” is my graffiti name. Graffiti keeps my art going, make my experimentation go on.
Why are you focusing on monochrome abstract Painting now?
Presque Monochrome means almost monochrome. I find very interesting to focus only on one colour, to be as minimalistic as I can putting it in relationship with monochromatic paintings, always influenced by cubism and deconstructionism. Mixing this two aspects I create a singular work since I don't see many artists doing that. In this kind of artworks there is just a colour and the canvas in dialogue, and this make me concentrate on shapes. I find colours distracting so I prefer focusing on only one colour.
I created a cube that established a dialogue between my works and interior design elements as a form of criticism and to see what happens juxtaposing my works and this interior design elements. It is like self-criticism and the risk to see what happens. It took me a long time doing that and there will be new things coming up in the future. I want to play also with the impact that this has on the viewer.
I have an exhibition in one month and i’ll start focusing on it as not just paintings but I also want my audience to enter in the colour.
In Situ projects are really important for me like the installation I did in this indoor market booth (pic up here) that made the spectators get curious and enter the painting.
What about your future as an artist?
I think day per day. I will do installations in the next few years, but I also want to continue as a muralist artist and with collaborations with architects, doing experimentations in huge spaces being involved in huge projects. I love in situ projects.
I plan to move a bit to South America because I like the colours there and I would like to explore that part of the world so I’ll try to apply for some new projects but to be honest I prefer to live day by day.
(Several exclusive new works by Simon Morda-Cotel (WOSE) will be available very soon on Dope! Gallery)