Review Me: Hairuo Ding: Intense Clashing
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Thursday, July 1, 2021

Hairuo Ding: Intense Clashing

Hairuo, thank you for accepting our invitation to talk about your artistic life and your impressive art of jewelry through this interview. Tell us about your artistic background story line and key moments which made you decided to follow your career as a visual artist?

Since the first time I made handmade stuff in my childhood, my entertainment activities have been almost handmade and painting. I have an almost persistent obsession with artistic creation, although I didn't know it was art at that time. All I know was that it made me feel really happy to keep achieving the ideas that pop up in my head. Like when I finished with the school day, or when I was in a bad mood, it calmed me down and relieved stress by staying alone to create artwork. Therefore, I chose to major in jewelry design when I was an undergraduate, I love seeing people wear my designs, and that connection between art and the human body. After finishing my studies, based on my obsession with contemporary jewelry art, I came to America to continue my postgraduate study. During this period, I became more and more inspired and integrated into this field. It confirmed to me that this is what I love to do and that this is the path I want to spend my life on.

“A connection between art and the human body”, what an impressive interpretation! We know you started this art enthusiastically and continued this way willingly, but was there ever a moment of doubt to question your art career entirely?

The writer, Jonathan Lethem, has said that when people call something “original”, nine out of ten times they just don’t know the references or the original sources involved. So it's like nothing comes from nowhere, at some time in the past, I began to doubt the nature of art, what is art, that we are just transforming what we see, that there is no clear boundary to the value of art, so all of this can be meaningless in some sense, and felt that maybe I was just pretending to be an artist, “there is nothing new under the sun.” Then I've been discussing this with a lot of artists, and I find that they both have similar feelings at some points, that made me felt very interesting, and it's still a question worth discussing.

That’s true. People may have this challenge with themselves in everything they create. Hairuo, do you paint every day? What is your daily routine when working in your studio?

I tend to be more active and creative thinking at night, so during the day, I prefer to do a lot of “non-thinking” things, like testing materials, making models, soldering and polishing, etc., I also go to other people's benches to discuss their artwork and exchange ideas. I think it's important to keep the conversation going between artists, and they can often bring perspectives that you don't see, this can elevate your work or inspire new ideas, so when I’m working on something, I might be like to stay alone, and don't like to be disturbed, but in my breaks, I enjoy going around and talk to people. After dinner, I'll get into the thinking parts, such as sketching, researching and researching new ideas, I feel like the world is quieter and my mind is much clearer than during the day.

It’s so great that you have a sense of curiosity and you are constantly researching and experimenting during the day to do your best. Now, take us through your process of making your artworks. How do you move from an idea to an artwork? Where does an artwork begin for you?

There is no set process because sometimes my inspiration come from a thought or a book; sometimes it doesn't even have a concept at first, it could come from a material or an object. Such as before I have a set of works from my interest in bamboo, so it took me a long time to study and research the bamboo material, and with hundreds of ways to test it, cutting, coloring, burning... then I did records, models, to compare and thinking, according to the effect of the material, I would constantly generate new ideas. The final work and the real concept are often produced in the process of the experiment. However, if my inspiration comes from a specific thought or a topic, then the process will be reversed. I would do some research on this concept first and then look for appropriate materials. I would try different materials to find the one that best fits the concept I want to express.

Good job! You try your best to convey the feeling you really want. Do you seek a relevant and identical concept or style in your artworks? In other words, is there a central concept connecting all your works together or each series or artwork is unique?

I like to keep trying on a different concept, and also challenge completely different styles. Sometimes they even could be two extremes. I think I just enjoy looking for the possibility of my creation. I hope there is no end to this possibility, which is also the reason why I have always been passionate about creation. Art just has infinite possibilities. When I create a concept, in the process of thinking and testing, I would often trigger other thoughts or discover new materials, and I would record them, all of which will become the possibility of my next concept.

You mentioned about the challenge. Do you want to invite your audience to a challenge as well? Would you like to give a particular interpretation of your work to your viewers or you prefer to leave the whole interpretation to your audience?

I think it depends on a different concept and the size of the work. If it is a large installation, I tend to give the audience the most striking and pure visual experience. The moment they see, their feeling is what I want to learn about. But for a few topics, I also wanted to let the audience think about the metaphor behind the work, such as one of my works about mental disease, I chose very bright colors, made of the brain electronic activity mapping of 96 patients who have a mental illness. They look very beautiful and bright, it seems like a very positive and cheerful work, but the real implication is very heavy. This sense of contrast, sometimes, is also what I hope to bring to the audience. Leave the room for thinking can also enable the audience to have a deeper understanding of the work.

Very well. Apart from inspiring the audience, how do you seek and use inspiration for your works? Do you discover it inwards and towards yourself or outward to the rest of the world?

My inspiration can be from everywhere, I'm not trying to find them. They are always like something that aroused my resonance. Such as I have a period of time in high pressure, the mood is very bad, I will go to study the negative emotions, and made relevant work, my work "Soaking and Silence" was after I quarreled with a friend, then my thinking and exploration was about the electrostatic instability of emotions and interaction between human being and the perspective of self-consciousness. Sometimes just a book, like after I read “Life After Life” by Kate Atkinson. It made me thinking about life. I produced a question: if you could repeat your life constantly until you were satisfied, would you dare do so? According to this question and thinking, I made the series of works of "Equinox Flower".

What an interesting question! And what about the subjects? How do you select your artworks subjects? Where they come from?

Art comes from life. My works always come from my life experiences, setbacks, or things that happened around me. I think there is no need to select the subjects deliberately. Most of the time, it comes from my passion for an object or material, or a certain stage in the life of doubt, think, or a social phenomenon that really interests me, the behavior of people, etc. From my perspective, sometimes your love for material or even just a flower on the side of the road, both can be the reason for your subject. There is no “better” here. What you want to do most, what you want to express most, is the best. After I was attracted by things, I would like to further explore, research and think, and then hope to need to think about by themselves share the results of my thinking with everyone through my artworks. Or sometimes these subjects of works don’t have an answer, I'm just throwing out a question or the ironic contrast.

Your final presentations are meticulously created using the finest materials, resulting in thoughtful, phenomenal designs that will last a lifetime. Is there an artwork or series that you would like to be remembered for? And if yes, what is it?

My favorite series is "Voice of Bamboo", not because of how good it is. On the contrary, it has many deficiencies compared with other works. However, it was my first work of contemporary art jewelry, so it means a lot and worth remembering. The series of designs come from my love of China’s bamboo culture. I worried this aspect is fading from people’s lives, which is why I chose to review and reconsider the meaning of bamboo in a contemporary context. I went to the place where the bamboo had the most, there has a factory that was responsible for creating and processing the bamboo production, and I studied there for three months, trying to study the material as much as possible. Therefore, this experience was very special for me, and also gave me a preliminary change in my thinking from traditional art jewelry to contemporary art jewelry.

What a valuable source of inspiration! Now, what are your art influences? Who are your favorite contemporary or historical artists and why?

There are a lot of great artists there, but the one who influenced me the most was Francesco Albano. When I first saw his works "The Age of Games Has Gone" and "On The Eve", I still remember the shock of my heart. I couldn't even find words to describe it, I’ve never seen anything like that, I was both amazed and disturbed by his work, I felt the life and soul of it, like an instant connection. Because most of my works in the past two years focused on the unavoidable decay of the body. His bold style and deformed body shape have brought great influence and impact to me. It turned out that terror and beauty, disturbed and serenity, really can exist at the same time.

Francesco Albano is known as an a courageous artist. If you could meet one of your ideal artists from the past, would it be him or others and what will you ask about?

Roger Ballen is one of my favorite artists, "if you see my work feel uncomfortable, it may be they opened the part that you don't want to face". All the people, as anyone who had seen his work, it is impossible to forget it. I would like to ask him, after finished his Ph.D. degree, what made him determined to remote villages in South Africa. Settled in there, to insist on record and create the presence of those who fight for the humble greatness, especially during that period. His village had experienced great unrest in South Africa, under the apartheid policy of immigrants. It wasn't easy living in South Africa for a long time under the worst public security, mortality rates are the highest in slums, facing the change every day, fear, alienation and exclusion. But under this kind of circumstance, everything he created was breathtaking.

Sure it is. So is your art of jewelry, your installations, and clay sculptures are very eye-catching and popular among our readers. All of us are looking forward to seeing your upcoming series impatiently. Any upcoming works or future projects that you would like to share with our readers?

The series that I'm going to be working on is about all the different aspects of life, people with different identities struggle in society, as well as the inner pain that people hide behind the mask of a smile. We are fed on a daily banquet of stress and pressure. We imprison our spirit and take on the mantle. I want to show the unavoidable decaying of the body in its inhuman attempt to survive life. Also, I have become obsessed with clay sculpture lately, which is very patient and meticulous work. I'm trying to do this with a more subtle expression technique than something abstract. But I do not want to use traditional clay sculpture materials. I may try new materials, but use sculpture techniques to carve different figures in combination with my concept. They will also be wearable, I want them to have a connection with the human body.

Well, very happy to hear that Hairuo. That was a very deep and inspiring. Once again, I would like to thank you for your time and to accept our invitation. I hope to hear more about you in the future. Good luck and best wishes.

Thanks for reading this interview. We hope that it answered a considerable part of your questions about Hairuo's art. If you want to ask more questions, please scan the QR code and proceed.

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