Interview: Yiwen Tu
Luca Curci talks with Yiwen Tu during THE SKIN PROJECT, first appointment of CANVAS Art Fair 2020 at THE LINE Contemporary Art Space in London.
Yiwen Tu is an award-winning artist and communications designer from Shanghai, China and she is now based in New York. In her junior year at Donghua University, she got the scholarship to exchange study at Fashion Institute of Technology. Yiwen was inspired by the energy, culture, art and design education in New York city. She decided to pursue a further study after she graduated from Donghua University. When she studied at Pratt Institute in 2019, she focused on design experiment and research. Her work series Extinction And Revival communicate her idea of reaching balance and evolve through debating between thesis and antithesis. Along with working on art exploration and design research, Yiwen is a successful commercial designer who has worked for many high-profile clients including Porche, Volve, and the NBA.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Yiwen Tu – I think art is a way to perceive the world. How we perceive the world decides what we create in response. Art doesn’t have to be displayed in a gallery or created by artists. Art is everywhere. Nature is the most accessible kind of art, and it always surprises and inspires me. In many of my works, the narratives, color palette, and composition can reflect my observation and design interpretation. There is also man-made art, that is a combination of aesthetics, thoughts, and communication. When appreciating man-made artifacts, it is like engaging in a rich conversation where we can hear what the creator has gone through, what message he or she is conveying to you, and build up our own thoughts and reflection towards the artifact and the message behind it.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
YT – I came from an average family in Shanghai. Though this is not much an artist’s family, they’ve always been encouraging me to explore different forms of art. My parents’ generation was born in the 60s and 70s, when government policies encouraged fertilities; and that’s why I have five aunts from my father’s end. I was raised by very strong, intelligent women: my mom, my grandma, and my aunts. They taught me that I could do what I set my mind to, and not be afraid of trying new things even if I may fail. My dad is very good at drawing. When the young me was doodling on paper every day, my dad led me into the world of art. When I was older and became interested in pursuing a profession in art and design, my dad became the most supportive parent who trusted in me with no doubt and encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone when I was stuck. Therefore, I set my motto as: ”be brave, be creative”.
LC – Which is the role the artist plays in the society? And the contemporary art?
YT – Artists work closely on the topic of social problems. Personalities are consist of ones’ nature and how they are affected by the social environment. Artists are urged by their desire to communicate through their artworks; and what we want to communicate depends on how we feel and think about what we experienced. The conversation is two-way: the audience receives and, at the same time, respond to the artists. Then, the artists’ works arouse attention from the public; the contemporary art world benefits from the attention too. More voices can be heard in those conversations, thus creating diversity in the art world.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
YT – I took inspiration from nature, history and people I met. Everything can be a new idea as long as we keep observing, thinking, and creating. My work ”Extinction And Revival” is inspired by philosophy, history, and people’s behavior patterns. “History never repeats itself, but it rhymes”. History seems to develop in a similar pattern of extinction and revival, and this pattern can be observed in a lot of other cases too. As the subject of ”Extinction And Revival”, Chinese traditional philosophy serves as a great example. Hundreds of philosophy families debate and fight against with each other but at the meantime, absorb from other families to consummate their theories. Therefore, my work uses the methodology of destruction and re-build/re-design to echo with the idea of extinction and revival.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
YT – I may have to try a hundred times before I get to the right path. The process is always struggling and consuming, but I know if I keep trying, I will succeed eventually. Even if the ideas or methods have to be discarded, what I learned from the exploration may still be useful in my other projects. Keep going and open my mind will be my solution to the challenges.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this exhibition? How is it connected to the theme of the entire festival?
YT – One of the exhibition’s ideas is about human’s transformation. Triggered by different incentives, individuals and the larger social groups are urged to change, thus adapting to the times and promoting developments. My work ”Extinction And Revival” explores how nature, history, and individuals develop through the process of subversion and resurrection, which is a way to exist, evolve, and thrive.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival? In which way did it inspire you?
YT – As a designer and an artist, visual promotion is very important to me. The image gave people a lot of space for imagination. Without reading more text information, the visual appealed to me immediately. After getting the invitation from ITSLIQUID GROUP, I read the details of the exhibition and found that my work ”Extinction And Revival” suited the concept well. However, my ideas just reflected part of the concept. I am very interested in the idea of how people are impelled by desires to transform through ritual. I believe there exists a lot of potential for exploration.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
YT – Yes, absolutely! I appreciate how ITSLIQUID GROUP provides a platform for these talented artists from which we can learn and communicate with. I have been following the articles and events on ITSLIQUID GROUP’s website, and I think these are great mind-opening resources.
LC – What are your suggestions about our services? Is there something more we can provide to artists?
YT – I’ve seen that ITSLIQUID GROUP invites many international artists from different backgrounds. I would like to see if there is an opportunity where artists can talk about each other’s works and opinions towards what’s happening around the world.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
YT – Yes, definitely! Everyone I worked with is very responsible and helpful.