You are inside the head of Gao Jié
Gao Jié 高洁 is a Chinese artist. After graduating from the Xiamen University‘s Fine Arts Teaching Academy, he moved to France in 2002, and graduated from the Ecole supérieure des beaux-arts de Rouen in 2007. He has exhibited in Xiamen, and large a number of international art locales including Clermont-Ferrand where he won the Videoformes International Festival. His second solo exhibition « Vous êtes dans ma tête » (You are inside my head) is on view at the a2z Gallery in Ivry sur Seine until April 30, 2012.
The exhibition represents a slice of his life, projecting his hybrid philosophy onto an accumulation of drawings, installations, photographs and videos: emptiness as hidden mental space, water as parallel dimension, the questioning of Chinese philosophy vs Freudian psychoanalysis, and figurative critical systems. He currently lives and works in Paris.
Interview by Damien Brachet
WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE AN ARTIST?
I was already interested in Chinese classical art when I visited the Chinese European Arts Centre in Xiamen in 1997, which was my first exposure to contemporary art. Back then, Chinese contemporary art was still in its infancy. Before 1985, we were limited to oil painting and classical Chinese art. I decided to study art at Xiamen university, but there was such a little audience in China, so I moved to France to major in fine arts education. But then I came to think that art could not be effectively taught, and I decided to be an artist.
WHICH WAS THE FIRST INSPIRATION THAT INITIATED YOUR ARTISTIC DIRECTION?
My lifelong quest has always been all-encompassing knowledge and understanding, alternating readings between Chinese and Western influences, from Taoism to poetry, psychology and philosophy. I want to build a natural balance within myself, a living universalism that I feed by opening my mind as wide as possible, and broadening my scope with inspirations as distinct as possible. My thoughts meld into each other inside me, and mature over the long term. It is a slow digestion that I think is very Chinese, just like our History has taken in regional and foreign influences, mixing Taoism and Buddhism for example, or the aggregating nature of Chinese calligraphy. Our thinking aims for harmony rather than polarization. As part of the universe, I ingest and adapt to its constant contradictions, the onslaught of different influences, and Past and Future. For example, my first artwork in Xiamen was a pretty naive installation, featuring a stone sculpture of 老子 Lao Zi, the founder of Taoism, being violated.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST RECENT INSPIRATION?
My inspirations have always been one and the same, the desire to tell my stories, the quest for the right means of expression, whether stepping forward or backward in my thought process.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE INSTALLATION?
It allows me complete freedom in using any medium, from photography and video to painting and sculpture…I love sculpture’s free-form nature, its exploratory freedom and the challenge of concrete constraints. Installation allows me the closest and most exact expression of pure emotion.
I SEE QUITE A FEW INFLUENCES IN YOUR WORK: ARCHITECTURE, GEOMETRY, MATHEMATICS …
My father was an architect, and I loved to sit at his office as a child, spending hours on large sheets of paper, drawing imaginary machines and structures, in realistic and technical detail. Although I loved History and Humanities, Culture and Philosophy, I simply could not remember anything and preferred to draw all day. Lessons were absolutely didactic and had to be learned by rote, at which I constantly failed. I drew and drew rather than slept. But somehow mathematics kept a clarity which I have kept inside me. I was also reading lots of Japanese manga. But I would say that Chinese classical painting is still a paramount influence. I enjoyed teaching it in France, but I couldn’t constrain myself to its academic limitations.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST DEVELOP YOUR FIGURATIVE CRITICAL SYSTEM?
In 2007, as a result of my years studying art criticism. Each of my figurative critical systems took me a month to refine and complete.
ONCE YOU’VE CHOSEN A THEME, WHAT IS YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
I keep taking notes and putting them into drawings, whether taken from dreams or my daily life, adding them to folders by theme. It can take six months or a year before I think I’m satisfied with one. It’s a very long, digestive process.
WHEN DO YOU KNOW A WORK IS FINISHED?
I never do. Everything is open-ended. Nothing in life is definite, it’s a constant, on-going thought process. When I think a project is complete, I just have to wait for the right opportunity, for the right location, as I always work in situ. When a location has been found, I map out a plan, and adapt its execution to the constraints, and improvise according to new discoveries, and chance.
HOW DOES YOUR WORK, YOUR APPROACH TO THE ABSTRACT, INFLUENCE YOUR DAILY LIFE, YOUR CHOICES IN LIFE?
My art and my life are the same. I know it’s a classic, but for me they are the same challenge, a constant reflection on contradicting forces.
HAVE YOU GOT ANY MASTERS?
There are too many to list. I would mention my teacher at Xiamen University, the famous artist Huang Yong Ping 黄永砯 and Shen Yuan 沈远 for their great achievements in conceptual art.
WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT OBSESSION?
Execution. Finding support to bring my art to reality, whether it be locations or means.
HOW DO YOU FEEL PERSONALLY WHEN YOU ARE IN THE MIDST OF CREATING?
I go through all the stages of emotion. Art is my life, and thus encompasses all facets of life.
Published: April 10th, 2012