Artist and co-founder of the Idlebeats screen print studio unveils her latest solo show at the Identity Art Gallery
October 12, 2011
We delve deep with one of China's most fantastical and celebrated artists
- Text by Karchun Leung
As one of my favourite artists in China, Maleonn always surprises people with his artwork. It can be scary, it can be beautiful and you can always find a more meaningful spirit inside of his artwork. His importance in the Chinese contemporary art scene is that he genuinely makes you think about life...
Satellite Voices: What keeps you awake when you really should be sleeping?
Maleonn: I never have a good sleep, always having sleeping problems. If I can sleep, I would never wake.
SV: What do you think the mind of Shanghai would look like if it was captured in one of your pieces?
Maleonn: I was born and grew up in Shanghai but my relationship with Shanghai is just physical. This is not a city that makes you feel sentimental because all my memories here were destroyed by the city's development. I feel like a fish with a very short memory. When time pasts, I need to forget. Shanghai is changing all the time, she is like a queen ant who keeps giving birth to baby ants. All the people in the city are like ants, she would keep you alive but she don't love you, and she doesn't need your love.
SV: If you had the chance to live a storybook tale which one would you pick and why?
Maleonn: I never think about this. All the famous stories were a combination of happiness and pain, a bit adventure, facing dramatic success and failure all the time. My life is very dramatic but I wouldn’t want my life as a story.
SV: What has been your proudest achievement?
Maleonn: When I started I received a lot of letters from strangers. And to be honest, quite a lot of letters from all around the world, and now people contact me via my website. They like my work, they trust me, they treat me as a friend. They would share their life with me and say that my work can comfort them. I am really proud and touched by them.
SV: Despite the effervescent nature of your art there are often underlying sinister elements to the characters - how do you balance these two elements together?
Maleonn: I always think that life is half happiness and half pain. I know my work ends up being sad but I would always present it on a beautiful stage with all the flowers. With the most beautiful dress and make-up on the actors, which made the tragedy become more meaningful. Life is all about contrasts. I never want to find the balance, our situation is always the most delicate.
SV: Could you give us an unknown gem in your city?
Maleonn: The night of Shanghai is always beautiful. I had a series of work on this topic, so I walk out at three in the morning to look for suitable locations. That was the most peaceful and beautiful moment of the city, it’s like the woman you like sleeping beside you. That's really wonderful.
SV: And finally, how far would you go in the name of art?
Maleonn: I was born in a theatrical family, my parent are theatre artists. When I started to think about my future, I was thinking I would do the same as my parent for my whole life. I never thought that I have any options, that this was my destination. I got lost before, but after a while I got back onto artistic creation. I have a strong feeling this is something I needed, I can’t live my life without it. I won’t stop creating, I just don’t have a choice.
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