Thursday, October 8, 2009

Contemporary artists

Zhou Fan
Zhou Fan is a rising star in the Chinese art scene – he is a young, yet extremely creative, Chinese contemporary artist. His paintings have attracted attention at exhibitions in New York, Germany and Shanghai. In the Chinese Art Prize 2007, Zhou Fan was selected as one of the top 3 emerging Chinese contemporary artists (out of over 1300 entries into the art prize) by Gerard Goodrow, Director of Art Cologne, Jeff Kelley, Curator of the Asian Art Museum in California and other important judges. The first thing that strikes people when they view Zhou Fan’s work is how his paintings are so colourful and detailed. Zhou Fan spends many hours carefully painting the details and tiny lines which compose his subjects. Some people have remarked that the paintings have a “Japanese quality” to them. Zhou Fan is in fact ¾ Chinese and ¼ Japanese, and while his Japanese side has probably had some influence on the artist’s interests, Zhou has spent his whole life in China and cannot even speak Japanese. Zhou Fan paints his works so colourfully because his subject matter, such as jellyfish, is colourful. Jellyfish can glow a multitude of colours as they float in the ocean’s skies. While they are calm and soothing fish to look at, they pack a powerful sting that can even kill small fish or animals. Zhou has explained that one of his priorities is to make his works attractive, which is another reason why he makes his works so colourful. “Visual effect” is one of the priorities of any artist, according to Zhou.

Zhou Fan has been very inspired by his childhood. While the artist has always had a strong fascination for Jellyfish, Zhou’s “Love of Jellyfish” series of paintings is based on dreams that he had as a young boy of many jellyfish floating in the sky, some of which fell to the ground on parachutes and became mushrooms. These dreams had a strong impact on the artist, and he remembers them vividly. The artist explains, “Somehow I feel that it is easier to focus on dreams than reality”. According to psychologists, our daily fantasies and dreams are actually extensions and expansion of our reality. In another series of paintings, Zhou Fan paints a fat boy, with many moles and a big tire-ring of fat around his neck. The series is titled: “Teacher, I won’t do it again”. The fat boy is crying, and he has a band-aid on his finger, which has clearly been bleeding. In some of the paintings in the series, the boy has a candy in his hand; presumably, the boy has been eating too much candy and the teacher scolded him, so he is crying. This subject-matter, too, harks back to Zhou Fan’s childhood, when he had a very fat classmate in school who could not stop eating candies. Zhou was sympathetic towards the boy and felt bad when teachers were harsh to his fat classmate. Even Zhou’s classmates were mean to the boy and picked on him a lot. While Zhou Fan’s paintings may at first look happy and cheerful because they are colourful, many of the artist’s works have a sad undertone to them. Zhou seems to be quite sensitive to the fact that people can be cruel and destructive, and he can see the effect China’s societal changes are having on individuals and the society as a whole. Clearly, the crying fat boy, while he looks humorous, is actually tormented by his teacher and classmates. Communist concepts of everyone being equal are not a reality for the fat boy; even though he has done nothing wrong to anyone, he is still put down and looked down on. The boy is discriminated against. In another painting, Zhou Fan has placed a figure of a boy in the bottom left corner; the boy’s hand is on his face, and coming out of his hand appears to be either jellyfish tentacles or noodle-looking things. Zhou explains about the boy, “The boy crying in the painting keeps things within him, is easily sad, and he refuses to face reality.” This is also a commentary on society – that boys are supposed to keep their emotions within them, and as a result they are sad inside. Also, refusing to face reality points to the fact that the boy does not like reality – so he wants to ignore it. What is so bad about reality that a young boy does not want to face reality? Again, China’s tremendous current social changes have made life confusing and sometimes even terrifying for children growing up in such an environment.

Rolf Kluenter
Rolf Kluenter is an artist who is full of energy, inspiration and seemingly limitless ideas. He himself has had a wide range of influences in his life. He was born in Germany and grew up there. But after Rolf’s graduation, instead of going to New York and doing what was expected of him, he chose to forge his own path and moved to Katmandu, where he spent over 15 years. The influence that his life in Nepal has had on him is very apparent in Rolf’s work, not only from the Nepalese paper that he uses in much of his work, but also conceptually. The artist has also spent the past 7+ years in Shanghai, where he has married a Shanghainese woman, adding even more Asian influence on the artist’s life. Rolf Kluenter has spent more than half of his life in Asia, and we sometimes joke that he is now more Asian than German!
Rolf is an innovator. He is an artist who will probably never stop experimenting with new media. When visiting his studio, one never knows what amazing inspirations Rolf will have recently had. He is not afraid and does not hesitate to try new things, which is the mother of creativity and invention. In fact, a good artist is always looking for something new, something different to express. And Rolf is certainly that way. For example, the artist has recently been experimenting with using stainless steel, wires and bulbs and even women’s lipstick as media for his work. Rolf is probably the first artist to use old Nepalese black manuscripts within his artworks; he subsequently even developed the medium even further, and it is now something unique to Rolf.
Untitled 8(Black Box Project)2004, Carton, handmade paper,acrylic, Chinese ink

six books - black grey white2002, paper

gate of ganga2000, paper

shanghai nights 1

shanghai nights 10

2000/01, paper, 18 parts,

apparition2000/01, paper, 18 parts

Julia Galdo
I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. Picked up the camera when I was 16, but really wanted to be a marine biologist. My mom was president of the Greater Miami Shell Club and I spent a great deal of time in the water doing weird stuff. I studied science until my junior year in college when I finally took the leap. I graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2004 and have worked in advertising in some shape or form ever since. I think I'm a really, really lucky girl. I am not yet making a living by photography, but the momentum is going. The only advice I have to others is to look at A LOT of work and have some thick skin. Oh...and get ready to bust your tush. I'd love to be shooting more for myself. A dream client would be Yves Saint Laurent or Marc Jacobs. Future plans include hopefully shooting large ad jobs several times a year and taking thrift store road trips the rest of the time with my friends. I like to shoot people. These shots aren't really a story at all. Although I like to think of my photographs as cinematic moments.These are mainly my fashion shots; for look books, model testing, that sort of thing. All work is personal. Even if you're working a bummer job... it's personal, you have a personal element in there. I'd have to say that my photographs are about an interaction between a space and a person. Having an electric charge with an environment. I dont know why that means so much to me, but it does.

By Fiona Pak

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