Shi Xinning.jpg

Interview Mr. Xinning Shi 石心宁

We had such a great honor to interview Mr. Shi, a world-renowned artist specialized in figurative paintings. Mr. Shi grew up in China, and currently lives in Southern California. His artwork were shown in many exhibitions both inside and outside of China. Influenced by painting styles of social realism and European, among others, Mr. Shi focused on painting iconic political or social moments with a twist by including subjects of Chinese Cultural Revolution, especially Mao Zedong, that were never actually in these historical moments.

In October, we asked Mr Shi a list of questions concerning his work, his thought process in artistic creation, and his advice to young aspiring artists. Mr. Shi patiently provided detailed responses and authorized us to show two of his art pieces on our website.

We are now gladly sharing with you the interview and his hand-picked paintings. Please enjoy!

Interview Part I

Painting: Performance

Interview Part II

Painting: Expectation

Interview Part III

Part I

Question: From your perspective, what influence does art have on society and culture? 

问:您认为艺术对社会和文化有着什么样的影响?


答:艺术是人类思想的一种物化结晶,艺术在社会发展的过程中有一定的前瞻性。我认为艺术对社会的影响主要体现在精神层面,既真实存在又不可表述。它对社会的影响是间接,而非直接的。

Answer: Art is a physical representation of human thought, and it has a certain characteristics of forward-looking in the social development process. From my perspective, the impact of art on society is mainly reflected at the spiritual level, real but hardly expressible, and mostly indirect, rather than direct.

Question: To what extent has your life and work been impacted by your sociopolitical environment? 

问:您所处的社会政治环境对你的生活和艺术工作有怎样的影响?


答:我所处的特殊的社会政治环境对我的工作有很大的影响,甚至在不经意间塑造了我们也未可知。这种影响成为主观意念再被投射在艺术工作和工作中,但有时候在创作时并不自知,而是有一段较长的滞后期。因此这种影响往往在用来做历史性回顾时才会被提及。

Answer: The particular sociopolitical environment I live in has a great influence on my work, it might have even shaped my artistic creation inadvertently. This influence oftentimes evolves into one’s own idea and is then cast into the art and work, which is most likely unwitting at first and subsequently becomes quite evident. Because of that, this kind of influence is often only acknowledged and realized when taking a serious look at the past.

Question: How has your work been influenced by the different perspectives and cultures you’ve encountered? 

问:您所遇到过的不同见解和文化对您的作品有怎样的影响?


答:从逻辑上来说,这些不同的文化认知、艺术见解,对我来说提供了审视和考量艺术工作的另外角度。然而在创作的时候,我认为在纯然的状态下比较好,在这里过分繁杂的思路属于杂念应被排除。

Answer: Logically speaking, the various cultural cognitions and artistic opinions provide me with alternative perspectives to exam and evaluate artistic work. However, when working, I prefer an unadulterated mindset, as overly multifarious thinking tends to become a distraction that should be eliminated.

Question: Why art? What do you like the most about it, or what made you pursue it? What is something you dislike about it? 

问:为什么选择艺术?您喜欢和追求艺术的哪些方面?又有艺术的哪些方面让您不喜欢?


答:选择艺术是因为我自信在艺术方面的感悟力比较好。以前喜欢艺术的表达(观念),现在对艺术的语言(手段)更有兴趣。

如果非要说现今艺术领域的哪方面我不喜欢,那应该是“艺术进化论”所主导的艺术发展方向,我认为艺术的发展如同生命的演化,有它自在的规律和节奏,单纯地追求改变和创新是可疑虑的。

Answer: I chose painting as my passion because of the confidence I have in my ability to comprehend this art form. I used to focus on artistic expression, for the concept and story it delivers, and now I am more interested in artistic language, for the means it offers.

If there has to be some aspects of the current art society that I don’t particularly like, it would be the direction of art development guided by the "Theory of Art Evolution". I believe that the development of art, just like the evolution of life, has its own laws and paces, and to pursue change and innovation without respecting these laws and paces is rather concerning.

 

Performance

2010, 251 x 193 cm, Oil on Canvas

Performance.jpg
 

Part II

Question: Has there been a seminal experience in your life that inspires your art?

问:是什么在您生命中具有深远影响的经历激励了您的艺术创作呢?


答:这并不是一个简单的,有一两个事件,戏剧化地影响艺术创作的问题。影响我艺术道路和创作样式的,是由漫长的时间,和诸多事件、经历集合而成的。

Answer: This is not a matter of a simple scenario or one or two events that dramatically affected my artistic creation. What has influenced my path in pursuing art and my style of creativity is a collection of many events and personal experiences over a long period of time.

Question: What first gave you the idea to paint Mao in impossible scenarios? 

问:是什么最初激发您去画毛泽东出现在他并没有经历过的场景中?


答:2000年的时候,我计划创作一些借用历史图片的作品,在我研究一张带有毛泽东的图片素材时,我忽然走神儿了,把他想象到了一个他不可能存在的场景中,我把它称之为虚拟情境或情境置换。我觉得这个想法很有趣,于是开始了这种情境异化的创作。

Answer: In 2000, I planned to create some works by leveraging pictorial images of certain historical moments. When I was studying a picture with Mao Zedong in it, I got side tracked all a sudden, and imagined him in a scene where he could not have being present, which I call it as virtual situation or situational displacement. I thought this would be a fun idea, so I started to paint metamorphosed scenes.

Question: Where do you currently draw inspiration from? 

问:您现在从哪里获取创作灵感?


答;现在我的创作灵感更多来自于对艺术语言的迷恋。

Answer: Now my creative inspiration comes more from my fascination with artistic language

Question: What memorable responses have you had to your work? 

问:对您作品的众多反响中,有哪些令您难忘?


答:虚拟情境的影像能深入揭示荒谬和类似于真理的东西,这些被臆造出来的影像在不同观者的头脑中会有不同的诠释,这些丰富的差异性理解,令我难忘。

Answer: The imageries of virtual scenes profoundly reveal something absurd or near-truth. These fabricated images are interpreted quite differently in the minds of the individual viewers, and the extent of these differences in understanding my work are most memorable to me.

Question: What is your favorite art work of your own, and of another artist? 

问: 您最喜爱的自己的作品和其他艺术家的作品是什么?


答:我最喜欢自己在2000初创作的系列作品,因为那是在一种纯然的状态下创作的。

我最喜欢的好艺术家的作品太多了。

Answer: I like the series of works I created in the early 2000 the most, because they were created without any undue influences.

There are too many works by my favorite artists to name any.

 

Expectation

2002-2003, 130 x 300cm, Oil on Canvas
Published on Washington Post in 2008

Expectation.jpg
 

Part III

Question: How has your practice changed over time? 

问:您的创作随着时间演变吗?


答:随时间演变的是主题和方法,创作的生命特质部分是不会随时间演变的。

Answer: It is the theme and method of my works that evolve over time, while the unique personality of my creation, however, is rather constant.

Question: How do you work (like what working patterns i.e. bursts of inspiration, working consistently stably and planned out, working nonstop until completion, etc)? 

问:您的工作模式是怎样的?(比如:突然有了创作的激情而去创作,有计划地稳定地工作,不停地工作直到完成为止,或其它的模式?)


答:我的创作不依赖于激情,应该属于计划工作的模式。

Answer: My creation does not depend on bursts of inspiration, rather, it is quite well planned out.

Question: How do you balance art with your personal life? What has been your biggest challenge so far? 

问:您是怎样平衡您的艺术创作与个人生活的?这中间有什么困难吗?


答:我是这样排序的:活着、生活、艺术创作,按照这样的次序把它们统一起来。

Answer: My order of priorities is: being alive, living the life, and make arts, which are then consolidated in this order.

Question: What advice can you give to hopeful young artists starting out?

问:您对满怀憧憬却刚刚起步的年轻艺术人有怎样的忠告和建议?


答:很难讲有什么忠告和建议,我只能从自身过往的经历中,拣出一些曾经令我收益的事情:

1. 善于运用逆向思维

2. 在对外探求知识和未知事物的同时,学会对内了解自己

3. 和有才华的人交流和工作

4. 选择自己喜欢的方向,用自己擅长的方式进行创作

Answer: It's hard to give advices, however, here are several areas that have benefited me based my own past experience:

1. Become good at Reverse Thinking

2. While outwardly exploring knowledge and unknown things, learn to inwardly understand yourself

3. Associate yourself with talented people

4. Choose the direction you like and create with the method you are skilled in