Art and touch perpetually walk the line — hand in hand. Whether referring to a physical sense or art as a touchstone of today’s major societal issues like racial/religious tensions, consumerism and urbanism, art can channel provocative, melancholic and subversive emotions from its 2/3D platform onto the human sentimental system.
With the current influx of China Art as done by those of the post-1980 generation, China’s visual landscape — from picture to architecture — is changing. And this time, it’s personal.
The Rise Of China’s 80hou Art
Aka the art created by those born after 1980. Future, fine art and photography, all three facets join forces in new Temper tasty Ping Wang (1989), a Beijing-born visual artist and fashion photographer based in New York. Graduated from the School of Visual Arts with a Master’s Degree in Digital Photography, Ping specializes in combining fashion and fine art with unique aesthetics. His love for surreal and metaphysical art has inspired him to undertake a number of outside-the-box art projects hackling or tackling (Chinese) convention and tradition.
Ping has thus far displayed his work across galleries and shows in New York, Paris, Milan and Beijing. In his 5+ years of doing “the photography thing”, he has since divided his works into the categories of “fashion photography” and “fine art”. In the field of the former, it’s worth noting that his nos-gusta-mucho work has already appeared on the pages of i-D Magazine, Bazaar, Elle, L’Officiel, Vice Media and Schön! Magazine. The man in 2016 was selected and acknowledged as “Emerging Photographer of the Year” by Photo District News from a myriad-pool of photographers world-wide. Deservedly so.
When we look at those Chinese artists born in the 1950s, 60s and the 70s, we see a generation that has experienced more social change and revolution than those artistes who saw the light in the 1980s and 90s. The former carry deep within an inclination towards the crafting of artworks more related to political issues, given that is what they have lived through and by; their art can be considered an expression of the mind. The latter genre of new and innovative virtuosos was born during times of relative peace, embracing increasing levels of freedom and enjoying an exceedingly higher quality of life; their creations are more personal, an expression of the soul.
This generation feels a far stronger urge to express its innermost sentiment and seeks out an ever-larger space to do so. They’re fulfilling childhood dreams. Ping, too, denotes the desire to express purely himself, his work revealing a deep-rooted inspiration of a nostalgia for childhood and a confusion about the current state of society.
From “Bread and circuses” by Roman satirical author Juvenal to “Let them eat cake” pamphlets in revolutionary times, the arts have, in every shape and size, presented themselves as a platform for social indictment.
The Indictment Of The System
Speaking of society… “No one knows what it means, but it’s provocative!” often seems to be the hidden caption in our digital social media era, with the “free nipples” and dressed crotch-shots well past their prime — no offense to anyone. Luckily for the rest of us, there are those art airings that truly bring to light the causes and manifestations of social inequality, the limitations of and obsessions with social mandates or the clashings of generations and traditions — often doing so in truly provocative fashion. Think
- “La Haine”, a tale of racial tension and police brutality in the banlieues of Paris, areas rife with youth unemployment, urban poverty and high crime rates.
- Tweeting mad artist Kanye West in “BlKKK SKKKn head” refers to his hometown of Chicago, one of America’s most violent places, and references the tragedies in his native city claiming that the media have as little concern for poor black kids, as they do about dead Iraqis.
- On her “Lemonade” album, Beyoncé brings to the table the question of why America does not love black women. Slay, woman, slay!
- “The Untouchables”, a 2013 “shock photography” project for the protection of children by Cuban photographer Erik Ravelo to raise awareness about the various attacks against children through the world, from sexual abuse to school shootings and obesity.
From Charlie Parker’s “Now’s The Time” to “Charlie Chaplin: Modern Times”, the arts have throughout time presented themselves as a platform for social indictment. Consequently, the question beckons… What are the ethics involved when creating? Ping puts in his two cents:
“As far as I’m concerned, politics and ethics are neither the purpose nor the end of art creation, but keeping them in your heart makes your art carry depth. My fine art work project Luò Hóng (2015) is a project reflecting my own opinions on the obsession with female chastity and female virginity in traditional Eastern culture. This notion still has a relatively big impact on Chinese society in the 2010s, especially on those who were born before 1985. It is by no means my intention to turn this phenomenon into a form of activism, but I simply wanted to express my thoughts on it. These cultural effects are so deeply imbedded in my mind and soul that sometimes, I don’t need to tell the story in a loud manner; these cultural elements and the impact they have had on me will naturally and almost “secretively” seep through.
On the other hand, in terms of fashion photography, I like to put the focus on models from different ethnic backgrounds; I like to do whatever I can to give models of color more chances of being exposed to the flashbulb, if you will!”
In terms of fashion photography and fashion film work, collaboration plays a crucial part for the artist.
The Processes Of Creating
A somewhat introvert person in early life, Ping nonetheless always felt a strong urge to “express”, to express his feelings, his joys, his blue notes, his nostalgia and all the more delicate things there are to life’s every step. As a shy guy, the way he chose to express himself was through writing (blogging away since middle school) and through taking photos — starting the moment he got his first camera-equipped cell phone. Originally studying Television and Broadcasting Communication in college, encouraged by his friends Ping soon realized he’d actually like to use the camera to mock up something more personal and subsequently set off to the U.S. in the pursuit of photographic studies — and happyness. All in all, from the very instant he embarked upon his studies in the New World, a new gateway into the realm of shutterbugs presented itself to Ping and the photographer realized “this would be the first step in taking photography seriously”.
Photography requires collaborations. In his personal fine art projects, it’s mostly “me time”, but in terms of fashion photography and fashion film work, collaboration plays a crucial part for the artist. A photographer needs to work with the designer, the editor, the makeup artist, the hair stylist, the art director, the set designer, the model, and a few other names featured on the list. Everyone’s opinion matters, but after all is said and done, the photographer will need to step up his game as the team’s “leader” and make sure that the story portrayed through the lens aligns with his original ideas. In order to ensure everyone is on the same page, Ping in his personal MO always sets up mood boards way ahead of the actual shooting time; several mood boards will make their appearance until the entire team involved settles on a particular one to go with. Everybody then contributes their own unique ingredient to this board of choice and such it comes full circle as “style” and “story” click.
Communication and preparation make for sensible collaboration.
“Fashion is another form of expressing oneself; it’s another form of art.For me, shooting fashion is like taking on a great artistic collaboration with another artist — or another group of artists.” Ping Wang
The Final Deets On Ping Wang
Temper: Fashion Filmmaking. What to you is “fashion”? How do you merge fashion and visualization?
Ping: “I see fashion as another form of expressing oneself; it’s another form of art. It can be useful and practical though, as it is after all wearable. For me, shooting fashion is like taking on a great artistic collaboration with another artist — or another group of artists. When shooting a fashion editorial, I am creating a story along with many other designers. When shooting a fashion campaign, I am using my photography art to bring out a designer’s art. It’s a fun collaboration ‘procedure’. I tend to keep my own style in my fashion photography work — still quiet, nostalgic and blue (maybe sometimes even ‘dark’).”
Temper: China Fashion. What to you is China Fashion in the 21st century?
Ping: “Freedom of expression. A tide of new designers is coming in. These guys were born in the 1980s and 90s and they are more open-minded than ever, plus they’re looking at the global stage, the world, for inspiration. They are the juxtaposition of China’s socialist society and Western culture; they have access to both worlds.”
Temper: For The Love Of Photography I. What photography works have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?
Ping: “In terms of photography works, Gregory Crewdson is my inspiration. I like tableau photography art very much. Aside from that, a number of 20th Century painters greatly influence my work; I love Edward Hopper, Kay Sage and René Magritte.”
Temper: For The Love Of Photography II. What makes a photography work great for you?
Ping: “Personally, I am intrigued by images that hide strong emotion behind them. And it needs to be real. I’m very much into surrealism, so surreal photographic works often to always catch my eye. Having said that, the work, again, really needs to boast real emotion behind it to really impress me.”
In keeping things surreal, we must hereby quote Belgian Magritte, “Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. My painting is visible images which conceal nothing… The mind loves the unknown. To be a surrealist means barring from your mind all remembrance of what you have seen and being always on the lookout for what has never been”.
In keeping things real, we at Temper dare state that the consumption of art can change the palette and shake society’s core. To quote Queen B, “I got hot sauce in my bag, swag”.
All images come courtesy of Ping Wang
To find out more about Ping Wang and his work, go to www.pingwangstudio.com
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