We recently sat down with Chinese artist Shi Yanliang, known for his vibrant and striking colour palette we discussed this in a little more depth, whilst exploring what has driven his most recent series of work and inspired him to continue pursuing his passion for art.
Did you always want to become an artist? What inspired you?
I have been interested in art for as long as I can remember. Even in school, as a young child, art lessons were my favorite. I studied art in high school as well, and eventually decided to pursue my higher studies at the Central Academy Of Fine Arts.
The blend of traditional Chinese art with contemporary ideas is what inspires me to continue painting and exploring my innate talent.
What are some of the underlying concepts that you explore in your art?
My works are culminated from an intersection between art and life. There are associative relationships present in my works between colors, emotion, spirituality, society and life. Each element is carefully thought out and added to the work because of its association with a particular sentiment or idea.
All of these elements stringed together in a harmonious composition are a representation of my personal opinions and experiences or the things I observe around me.
Much like any other artist, ultimately, I am also exploring where I’ve come from and where I’m meant to be going next.
You have a very striking color palette, even though your works have a sort of a melancholic side. Is there a particular reason for this?
My paintings focus on some of the struggles that my generation has been through in society. Using a vibrant color palette is my way of saying that hope is not yet lost. I do believe that we will all move on from these scarring experiences and there is a great future lying ahead of us.
Stage by Shi Yanliang, 130 x 160cm, Acrylic on Canvas, 2015
Are their any artists that have influenced your artistic growth, not just painters but poets or writers?
Most artists in my generation produce artworks that have traces of the east as well as the west. My art too is a blend of traditional Chinese painting with modern contemporary art from the west. The famous painting by Lin Chun (林椿), Ripe Fruits Attract Birds has been a great influence on my works. The works of celebrated pop artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein have also inspired me a great deal, especially in terms of my vibrant color palette and bold compositions.
Each of your paintings is made up of a lot of elements. Can you talk a little bit about that?
My paintings have multiple layers, not just in terms of concepts but also symbolic elements. On the canvas, I am the director and every object and character plays the role of an actor. I have complete control over them.
Garden of Eden by Shi Yanliang, 160 x 180cm, Acrylic on Canvas, 2015
Symbolism is one of the main aspects of your paintings. Can you talk a little bit about what inspires you and which object represents what, with reference to some of your works?
Yes, symbolism is an integral part of my artistic process as well as the understanding of my works. There are a number of aspects of my own culture ranging from Chinese poetry to traditional painting that have inspired this usage of metaphors and symbols in my paintings. For example, the goose comes from a very popular poem of my childhood Praise the Geese (咏鹅)
It represents the loss of innocence and naivety of a child as opposed to the hustle and bustle of a city. The birds and elements of nature are derived from the traditional art of Chinese painting. They represent the people of china mentally struggling to keep up with the continuous development within society as well as in the world. The presence of nature also symbolizes the very fundamentals of society, equality and harmony.
Do you have a favorite among all your works? Why?
I think out of all the works in my current series, Deer is my favorite. It organizes all of my thoughts and ideas into one image. My vision for myself and for the future art creation is truly complete in that work of art.
Deer by Shi Yanliang, 228 x 150cm, Acrylic on Canvas, 2015