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Conversations with Xuanlin Ye

Today we’d like to introduce you to Xuanlin Ye.

Hi Xuanlin, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
As a child, I was always a shy, inarticulate boy. When I attempted to speak, my friend would frequently become so frustrated that he would interrupt me and finish my sentence. This inability to formulate words that correspond to my mind’s intricate yet obscure concepts has become one of my greatest weaknesses. I realized that my art might be an extension of my thoughts when I began studying art. When I am painting, I may have a fleeting concept about how to make a work, and these flashes of inspiration materialize my intangible thought. At that moment, I knew that art had become my preferred form of expression.

As an exchange student at the University College of London Slade School of Fine Art, I maintained a healthy and productive schedule and arrived early to my studio. When I was exhausted, I would visit all the art museums to be inspired by the incredible works of art and to see how the great masters conveyed their ideas via these magnificent images. This is when I recognized my strong appreciation and curiosity for art.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Working in the field of fine art is undoubtedly an uphill battle. As an independent artist, I must juggle numerous responsibilities. In addition to my time-consuming painting profession, I am also my own social media manager and publicist. Oftentimes, the hours spent on outreach and emails do not provide the results that I had hoped for, but I believe that the essential is to continue doing so regardless of the outcome.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
As a painter, I’ve been attempting to use the painting process to question and reflect upon the intricate relationship between transnational relationships. In my Money God series, the Money God explores the art history. Sometimes he wore the costume of a Guanyin (Chinese Bodhisattva/ Goddess of Compassion) traveling in an 18th-century Netherlandish chinoiserie glazed porcelain, and other times he posed as a model in Gustav Klimt’s Asian print-inspired oil painting background. Occasionally the Money god is standing in a Chinese ink painting. In today’s world, where nationalism is on the rise and hate crimes are a daily occurrence, I explore the spatio-temporal relationships across cultures in different modes of pictorial representations and how to position myself as an Asian artist by composing the Money God from different art historical references.

By assembling the Money God from many art historical references, I explore the past, present, and future relationships between other cultures, as well as how I, as an Asian artist, should position myself within the social-political and art historical structure.

What matters most to you? Why?
Rebecca Shore, a Chicago imagist and one of my favorite professors while I was an undergraduate, advised me to “play” when painting. I took this advice to heart and thoroughly enjoyed using my canvas as a testing ground for my ideas. In the recent Money God series, I enjoy building the picture of Money using many art historical references, which enables me to comprehend this world and my position in it. These paintings are the product of my academic investigation of the history of division and the power dynamic between historically disenfranchised and privileged. And I hope that my paintings, as the result of my intellectual process, would provoke “aha!” moments for my viewers.

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Image Credits
Xu Guanyu

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