Chen Dongfan: When we had dinner last time, a friend of you asked Inna and me that how we knew you. Inna said she knew your works before she met you, while I hesitated to respond, because images popped into my head was the scenario that you, driving on a motor, were ch
My interest in graffiti actually did not lie on techniques or patterns, neither did I have good or many paints. But I got a reason to mess around with a reason “I am making graffiti”. Haha, I love the pleasure of being destructive. However, a graffiti artist is not a decent title, so I named myself artist later. “Artist” on my mantel protects me: I say I am being an artist when I am not working, I say I am being an artist when I got some tattoos, and I say I am being an artist when I am doing things that others don’t understand. After all, it is a name of consolation that helps me to live freely in the society.
When I was in college I only knew painter, sculptor, musician…and later I learn that “artist” is a better name because this guy can do anything – exactly what I want. Also, since my parents knew that I became an artist, they controlled me less. My parents, like many parents, made the priority in their lives to drive me to study. Receiving serious education in childhood, I kind of went crazy in college. I was like a curious and passionate kid ready to see the world, spending time on biking, playing basketball and rock climbing, and in evenings I went to bars and picked up girls. Luckily I had a job as a substitute teacher that made me easy money.
So I played throughout college. It was my fortune that galleries came to me for cooperation, so I can make money by painting while having the time and leisure to try different exciting stuff. It was like, before college I was in a world where I studied hard, caused many troubles, and got scolded, but during college I was in another world where it is like I was having a high school life, and also after college I finally come into the college world where I learn new knowledge from cooperating with galleries, curating exhibitions, and meeting different people in the society. Thence I realized I should plan my life. The period after college was like a practise course, in which I, from adoring art, turned to doubting art, and then from rejecting art, to making myself forget art. Making a nice meal mattered more than always remembering art in the heart.
Chen Dongfan: Let’s talk about “R3PM3”, what’s its meaning? And what kind of program it is?
I can make up a bunch of sayings to give meaning to it. The number 3 is a mysterious symbol no matter in East or West. In symbolism, “3” does not have any negative meaning, rather, its symbolic meaning touches upon many areas including religion thoughts, tradition and theology.
There is a saying that “third time’s the charm.” The idea of Trinity of Christianity allows the god to be worshipped through the Son of God and its holy spirits. This explains that “Three” can replace “One” as an all-encompassing symbol of power and unity. In ancient folklore, three gods as one is an ancient way of seeing the world. For example, the Graces/Kharites, The Fates—Gorgon, Graeae, and Emenides. Even the nine goddesses of the Musen imply that they are bodies of threes. At the same time, in many religions there are indicators of “three” being worshipped in tandem, such as the triumvirate of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer.
Yet Buddhists call knowledge “The Triple Bodhi” and they are Budhu, Pasebudhu and Mahaarahath. This concept includes the self, reincarnation like the Siddhartha Gautama and those worshippers protected by the Buddha. From this comes the symbolic “three creeds”—self discipline, the Buddha and the organic world. In Hegelian Dialecticism, Thesis & Antithesis are created from synthesis. Because “three” gives people unlimited imagination that is both mysterious and wonderful.
People also say “the third time must work.” Heroes from traditional folklores all must complete three trials in order to prove their greatness. The two elements of Male and Female only become perfect in a family trio consisting of father, mother and child. As a mysterious number “three” represents another universal structure of traditional culture. This number conceals all the elements of creativity, such as head, brain, body and spirits, birth, life and death, past, present and future, etc. In many religious customs, “three as one” represents many different stories and implications. In Pythagoras’ eyes, three is a harmonious number, while Aristotle thinks three represents unity, because it has a beginning, middle, and end. Taoism also believes three represents power, because it implies a central element.
R, pronounces much like “ah”, and is a sound to start a sentence. Phoenicians called the letter “Resh”, meaning the head. What an appropriate letter to start a name! PM (Particular Matter) is the English words that I heard most recently.
Aforementioned are meanings I just thought about. Everybody can have his or her own understanding. In those days when many brands are of Latin letters, not understanding meanings of brands is common to many Chinese. In this case, names containing unrelated letters and numbers are hard to understand as well. Years ago I even did not know the name of KFC, and thought it was three initials of Chinese pinyin. So, shouldn’t the name giver care about the meaning of the name? Well, I think I just I should make a name that people can easily remember. So this name does not have special meaning, but allow others to imagine. The short name of the name is R3, my nickname in college. Haha, that makes sense.
In the program I did something I like, under the guise of art. I bought stuff, I did stuff I like, and I invited people to visit the exhibition, under the name of art. I, back to the role of being a designer or even a labor, used daily commodities to produce new commodities, which are not artistic, but something that can be used, for example, clothes, shoes, accessories, furniture and weird instrument.
Decoration like paintings and photos to decorate the space are more artistic, after all the exhibition is to be held in a gallery. But we turn the gallery into a “shop”, that turns all the objects inside commercial, so visitors does not need to worry about “whether I should like it because it is artistic” or “whether I should not like it because it is not artistic”.
My program will look for other exhibition sites. Of course a gallery would be great, but it’s also okay to hold exhibitions in shopping mall, or even restaurants and hotels. People will like it or not because of the location. For example, if we put those works on the road, cleaner will sweep them away soon, but as long as they are put in a gallery, visitors even dare not to touch them. So why do people believe this piece is artwork? Because of the artist? Because of the location? Or price? It is interesting that people’s moods change because of surroundings, while works remain the same.
Chen Dongfan: You’ve said that “Inna’s Contemporary Art Space with French windows specially fits the ‘shop’”, so is it to be an exhibition, or a shop? Or an exhibition in the name of “shop”? As I see, the fashions on sculptures are of a brand, but these branded fashion
: A shop in the name of “exhibition”. I hope it’s a long-term program and the gallery will be like a fashion shop with little hints that it is a gallery, though it is a gallery. The disguise redefines the space. Every piece of fashion in the space are in a brand which actually does not exist. Every style only has one piece, with comparative high price. After the program when the space is turned back to a gallery, the fashion, if it’s sold out, will be an artwork.
Chen Dongfan: It reforms the old style of exhibition, and it turns artwork into branded fashion. When people visit exhibition as if they go shopping, then their doubts is not “what I see”, but “how to see”. Now let’s talk about the brand that does not really exist. Do
Zhou Yilun: R3PM3 exists once it got tagged on one fashion. Though it’s not an illegal brand, not even a brand, it is at least a code for a sort of products. I design my works to be clothes, trousers, shoes, and accessories like rings and pendants. Those stuff, in my eyes, belong to a tribe which is forgotten by modern people, because commercial society hides them so well. The tribe remains, and appears in form of a group of commodities. I suggest visitors to view the whole exhibition as one work, as how I visit exhibition, so, the space of exhibition is like a huge packing box of “the work”.
Chen Dongfan: In my studio you once said you like the feeling that “the painting already looks old when it’s just finished”, how do you understand the term “old”.
Zhou Yilun: Some of my paintings look old, and some look like they are not finished. I did this to better reach the line of art. When I first started painting I always got my hands dirty, sometimes I smeared paintings, frames and even broke them. Later I collected all the broken and smeared stuff and set them in my works, so I get comfortable with wrong things. I thus feel close to the strange paintings. (Many paintings are collage of scraps of magazines and newspapers, in Western style composition. Those works are meant to make people to see the world clear, however, as people learn more knowledge, they lose sight of themselves.