Interview: Ai-Wen Wu Kratz
Luca Curci talks with Ai-Wen Wu Kratz during ANIMA MUNDI FESTIVAL 2019 – CONSCIOUSNESS at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
Ai-Wen Wu Kratz, a native of Hong Kong, works and lives in the United States. She received a BFA degree from Fort Wright College, Spokane, Washington; and a MFA degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. She is an alumna of Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, Maine; and of New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture, New York, NY. She holds a Diploma from Institute For Writers, Madison, CT. In addition to the U.S., Kratz had One-Person Exhibitions in France, Germany, England, Egypt and Austria. Her works are in collections in Canada, Germany, Bangladesh, Argentina and the U.S., including the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri. Her works embody spirituality, intellectualism and aesthetics. Kratz’s works are represented by Agora Gallery, New York, NY, USA and by AHC (Art History Consulting) Hamburg, Germany.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Ai-Wen Wu Kratz – The meaning of the word “art” can be more than one. On a practical level, it means an unusual skill acquired by practicing. For example, the art of making a speech or the art of playing a musical instrument. On a higher level, it is creativity and expression. The artists’imaginations give birth to forms, in sounds, in images, in movements or in words and more. Therefore, music, paintings, sculpture, dance and literature, for example, come from the pure imaginative power of the composer, painter, sculptor, choreographer and writer. I am a painter. When I prepare an exhibition, I feel I am parallel to a composer. Unlike an instrumentalist to prepare for a recital, there are music notes from composers to work from. However, there are no fixed points either for a painter or a composer to work from, if anything at all for us to amplify from, it would be our imagination, our hidden feelings and sensitivities, which are very much affected by cultivation and exposure in general. In short, we need to rely on what makes who we are individually. For me, art and religion contribution to the order and civility of a culture. Art satisfies, which food alone fails to give. Along with science, art contributes to the making of the wholeness of our existence as human.
LC- What are you currently working on?
AWWK – The painting I am working on is a canvas in 61 x 76 cm. I am not a writer, but I like good writings. I use colors as if I would choose words in writings. I aim at making visual poems. After completing the painting I am working on now, I will work on a pair of paintings in the size of 81 x 76 cm each. However, this new pair of paintings is somewhat like a bridge to reach a much larger set of paintings. It would be a set of three larger canvases, each is 183 x 122 cm. I have wanted to make such a set of paintings many years ago, and I have definite ideas what to do with the three.
LC – What is your creative process like?
AWWK – Slowness in the process has been troubling me. My paintings are in hard edge. It requires taping, masking and roller-and-brush application of paints. In fact, recently I have given thoughts to what must I do to save myself from the laborious process. In paint applications, I like to see flat surfaces. Unfortunately, to produce at a reasonable speed, I may have to yield to applying paints with brushes and leave marks as they are.
LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
AWWK – For a period of time, my works were on the themes of music and dance. Now, I am interested in the pure organization of forms and movements. I have done a number of works on shaped canvases in both linen and cotton.For example, in my painting, “IMPROVISATION”, on view at the exhibition with ITSLIQUID GROUP, I made use of the raw linen and cotton canvases as part of the color scheme of the paintings. Now, my paintings have no specific themes. I attempt to use fully the basic elements in visual art, shape, form, movement, line and color to express my sensitivity with an aim to compose visual poems.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
AWWK – Financially, it is difficult for artists to survive. It seems not possible for an unknown artist to make a living solely from selling artworks. In the U.S., in fact, worldwide the duration for an exhibition in galleries is getting very short. In the past, in general, each exhibition would be up for one month. Nowadays, it is very expensive and much work to organize a solo exhibition, which could be open to the public for only 12 days within a 3-week period. This happened to me in May 2019. The gallery where I exhibited opens to the public only 4 days a week. It closes Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The annual art fairs are extremely expensive, often the art fair has a VIP night and only two days afterwards. Even a longer art fair would offer only three days after the VIP opening night. However, when visiting a museum, I feel uplifted,because, collectively, we are a starving, yet noble bunch, who contributes to culture, history and humanity.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the festival?
AWWK – The theme of the ANIMA MUNDI-ITSLIQUID International Art Festival 2019 is about a critically urgent issue. The Festival is based on the concept of ANIMA MUNDI. It invokes the artist and the general public’s consciousness to make efforts towards keeping a healthy planet. Artists should contribute to the synergy accumulated from various sources and institutions which focus on environmental protection. Connectedness and accessibility are emphasized so to facilitate actions to attain our common goals, that is, to keep our environment safe from damages. “RITUALS” is the first event of the Festival. It begins with a convention of concerting charitable efforts to support prominent existing non-profit organizations, which are on the environmental protection front. Such concerns will continue to be topics for discussion in the 2nd and third events, which are marked as “CONSCIOUSNESS” and “VISIONS,” respectively. My participation in the Festival is during the “CONSCIOUSNESS” event. I am impressed by and am grateful for the Vision of Art upheld by ITSLIQUID GROUP. While it is in the lead to protect the environment, it offers also an embracing platform for photography, painting, sculpture, installation, design, architecture, video and performance arts.
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?
AWWK – In the exhibition, I have two works chosen by the staff of the ITSLIQUID GROUP. They are titled, “New Finds” and “Improvisation,” respectively. When I made these two paintings, I did not know about the LITSLIQUID GROUP and the important work the GROUP does. Curiously and fortunately enough, I find that my approach in the making of my paintings and my working habits fit right into the philosophy and practices, which the ITSLIQUID GROUP functions under and encourages. The production of my works is spiritually and directly connecting with my inner being, that is my soul, my feelings and my insights which are affected by my ethnic roots and upbringing. It is an extension of ANIMA MUNDI. In fact, the set of paintings titled, “New Finds” had received an “Award Of Excellence” from an exhibition “Little Treasures 2019” at Galleria De Marchi, Bologna, Italy.To be a responsible world citizen in environmental protection, I take pain to clean up and reuse all my plastic sheets and pockets from my painting process. When I find I have exhausted the material itself, only then do I leave it for recycling.
LC – What are your suggestions about our services? Is there something more we can provide to artists?
AWWK – When I read about the commercial products offered by ITSLIQUID GROUP, I was amazed by the practical side of them and at discounted prices too. Being a practicing artist, I would appreciate being informed of all exhibition opportunities, especially about solo exhibition opportunities around the world. Thank you.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
AWWK – Absolutely! I am very grateful to ITSLIQUID GROUP to have offered me an opportunity to exhibit in Venice alongside the 58th Venice Biennale. My husband and I love Venice. We have been to Venice for 12 or 13 times through the years and for the Biennales. I have never dreamt of having such an opportunity to show my works in Venice AND during the high volume of visitors to the Venice Biennale. For me, it is an honor and a dream that has comes true. Thank you very much, ITSLIQUID GROUP.
LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
AWWK – Highly spirited! Applaudable!!!In admirably amazing energy!!