Interview: Fu Wenjun
Luca Curci talks with Fu Wenjun during MIXING IDENTITIES, the third appointment of CANVAS International Art Fair, at THE LINE Contemporary Art Space and during BODIES+CITIES SKIN, first appointment of BORDERS ART FAIR 2021, at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
A Chinese visual artist celebrated for his provocative, unique use of digital photography, Fu Wenjun creates art that both reflects and challenges our understanding of the modern world. The Chongqing-born creator trained in oil painting at the Sichuan Fine Art Institute before turning his focus to photography, where he developed his iconic Digital Pictorial Photography style as a way to express more complex ideas than the traditional documentary style allowed. Combining aspects of modern Western and traditional Chinese art through digital experimentation on photographs, Fu Wenjun pioneered the use of digital technology to stretch the boundaries of photographic art. His Digital Pictorial Photographs conjure elements of calligraphy, oil painting, and sculpture ranging from figurative to abstract, simultaneously exploring tradition and technology’s effects on human life. In 2017, the National Art Museum of China presented a solo exhibition of Fu Wenjun’s work, titled “Harmony in Diversity: Fu Wenjun’s Digital Pictorial Photography Exhibition”, which included two Digital Pictorial pieces collected by the museum, “Nepotism” and “Thought Reading No.5”, among the exhibited works. Sought after by top museums and collectors around the world, from the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum to the Kennedy family, Fu Wenjun’s work has won numerous prestigious awards, including the first prize at the International Biennial of Contemporary Art in Argentina, ‘The Best Artist in the World’ at Tour Eiffel La Grande Exposition Universelle, and the International Award ‘Lorenzo il Magnifico’ of X Florence Biennale. Fu Wenjun continues to cross the boundaries of generation, culture, and geography through his expansive body of work. He’s currently focused on creating spaces where Western and Eastern cultures interact, evoking dialogues about how different societies engage with the changes modernity brings.
Luca Curci – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
Fu Wenjun – The professional training at Sichuan Fine Arts Institute was undoubtedly a good foundation for my artistic career. It gave me a comprehensive and systematic understanding of Chinese and Western art. After that, the over-30-years’ artistic practice has constantly enriched my knowledge and thinking about the world we live, and my artistic creation language. Thus, I put forward the concept and practice of “Digital Pictorial Photography”. It blends Chinese and Western art concepts based on cutting-edge technology and integrates various art forms such as photography, painting, sculpture, and installation, presenting a unique digital art.
LC – Which subject are you working on?
FW – During the pandemic that is significant to all of us, I focus more on the subject of people in the works created last and this year. The individual is like a drop of water in the big ocean. Even though it’s small, it presents a unique existence in the world.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
FW – I am a man keen on exploring and thinking. Many things inspire me to create: daily life, experiences in the travel, what I read in a book, what I hear from the news, and much more.
LC – What is your creative process like?
FW – Now I mainly create mixed media works. Each piece may use different materials and techniques, which is determined by what I want to express. As a result, the creative process may vary depending on the specific work.
LC – Which art themes do you pursue? What is your preferred subject, if there is any?
FW – In the works, I present my thinking and reflections on various issues about the history, culture and humanities of the East and West, such as the interrelationship between different cultures in the context of globalization, the legacy and inheritance of Chinese tradition in a rapidly changing society, the industrialization and urbanization of Chinese society and so on.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the festival?
FW – ITSLIQUID GROUP is a dynamic platform where contemporary art, architecture, design, and fashion can communicate and promote each other. I think “Mixing Identities” is a worthwhile art theme. The identities are not stable. How we feel about ourselves and the surrounding community keeps changing over time. Taking myself as an example, I live in China, and in this interconnected age, I can get access to cultures and arts of different places. They inspire me to think and create. In recent years, mixed media has become my primary creation method. One reason is that I find it’s hard to express with one single medium like photography, painting, or sculpture. In an age of ‘mixing identities’, I can combine Chinese art and Western art, incorporate various media, and produce something fresh with multiple dimensions and experiences.
LC – Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
FW – “Contemplation” is the work I present at the exhibition MIXING IDENTITIES held in The Line Contemporary Art Space, London. It was created after the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020. A female figure in contemplation with eyes closed and head slightly lowering is centered in the picture. I give some textures of mosaic and glitches in the background. Humankind lives in a digital age, and the pandemic lockdowns make our life more digitalized. Many of us have a new identity: digital-product dependent. The world is changing so fast that it leaves us little time to contemplate.
LC – What is your idea about ITSLIQUID GROUP?
FW – It lets art stimulate communication and lets communication improve understanding.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
FW – No matter where you – the artists – are, whenever you show the work or discuss it with other people, it may be your opportunity.
LC – What are your suggestions about our services? Is there something more we can provide to artists?
FW – I look forward to ITSLIQUID GROUP’s continuous presentation for artists worldwide.