Interview: Yijun Ge Sookie
Luca Curci talks with Yijun Ge Sookie during CONTEMPORARY VENICE 2021 – 8TH EDITION, at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
Yijun Ge was born in Xiang Yang, in the province of Hubei, China. She received her Bachelor’s from Hubei Institute of Fine Art. During that time, she taught art workshops for oil painting, charcoal drawing and printmaking, as well as assisted instructors at Hubei Institute of Fine Art University. Yijun received her MFA in painting from Academy of Art University, San Francisco, California. Her work has been included in local group shows, and she is actively creating commissions for private and public companies. 2021, she is teaching workshops at International Art Museum of America, San Francisco.
Luca Curci – How did you get to your current artistic practice?
Yijun Ge Sookie – I began my career as a painter with expressionism and cubism but I felt something was missing. When I first saw the masters of surrealism, Dali and Magritte, I was inspired. The process of interpreting the meaning behind their works was intriguing. I couldn’t help giving it a try and I found the style fit me perfectly. I love being able to tell stories and personify abstract ideas with my painting.
LC – What are your thoughts while you paint? Do you have any habits or rituals while you work?
YGS – I usually do 15 minutes of meditation before I paint. I want to clear my thoughts and get really focused on my work. I have started meditating this year and I find it is very helpful for my creative process. After meditation, I feel my mind is quiet and full of artistic ideas.
LC – What is your creative process like?
YGS – I begin by sketching and then I start under-painting. During the under-painting process, I like to experiment and often find that the end product is different from what I originally planned. I try using a variety of different substrates including wood panels and canvas. Oil paint is my medium of choice as it allows flexibility and depth of colour. I fill in under-paintings with big brushes and then refine them by adding multiple layers of paint. If I stare at the piece for 20 minutes without wanting to add anything, then I know it is done
LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
YGS – Yin and Yang is the basis of all of my work, representing passion and serenity. I contrast warm and cool colours, creating balance through tension. I find sharp contrast is eye-catching and visually satisfying. Dreams are the inspiration for my art. I paint images that show up in my dreams such as spiders, sailboats, cats, and dragons and use them as symbols to represent abstract concepts.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
YGS – As an emerging artist, I am starting everything from scratch and things are not always smooth. Going from an artist who is unknown to the world to a well-known artist takes a lot of time and begins with small steps. Being an artist has really forced me to step outside of my comfort zone and connect to people. Creating and publishing a successful piece of art requires a lot more than just technical skill. I find one of the hardest parts is getting my work out to an audience as it requires a lot of effort, persistence and courage.
LC – We are attracted by your last artistic production, has the artwork presented been created for the festival or as a part of preexisting works?
YGS – This is a preexisting work from my collection called Oneness which I created last year during the pandemic. The theme of this collection is letting go of fear and doubt by learning to embrace the unknown.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the festival’s theme?
YGS – My art is about expressing the relationship between the individual and the absolute. Through my paintings, I want to explore the concept of personal identity as a manifestation of the greater whole.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
YGS – It is very easy to cooperate with you. The whole process for presenting to this exhibition proceeded smoothly and went exactly as planned.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
YGS – I think it is very successful in holding the contemporary Venice festival. The organization has been very thoughtful and considerate throughout my time working with them. I am very impressed with the diversity and skill of the other artists and the physical grandeur of the venue. I am honoured to be a part of this festival I’d love to have the opportunity to participate again in the future if possible.