Singer-turned-artist tunes into works with help from Da Vinci

Updated: 2015-07-21 08:24

By Chen Nan(China Daily)

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Singer-turned-artist tunes into works with help from Da Vinci

Sound installation, To Da Vinci, by Ai Jing. [Photo provided to]

She flew to New York to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art last autumn and then spent two weeks in Italy, visiting about 40 buildings from the days of the Renaissance. When she saw Da Vinci's manuscripts at the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana under the dim lights, she "felt very close to him", she says.

After she returned to Beijing, Ai spent time trying to find a way to present her works in Milan, with an aim to establish a special connection with her viewers.

As she looked at pieces from the Renaissance, Ai realized that the period was about self-consciousness, and it was a time when ordinary people could have conversations with artists directly.

"The meeting between the conception of art in Asia and in the West will contribute toward a new Renaissance and a new humanism, in which, cultural, civil and aesthetic traditions will influence each other," wrote Fumagalli in the preface to Ai's book, Dialogue, which recorded her artistic process for the exhibition.

Chen Lusheng, the deputy director of the National Museum of China, who is also the curator of Ai's Milan show, says: "When we walk out of the museum, looking at everything surrounding us, we can sense the conversations taking place everywhere as people come and go. Ai's artworks are also talking to people."

Ai, a native of Shenyang, Liaoning province, has released five studio albums since 1992, and her hits, including My 1997 and Once Upon a Time in Yanfen Street, made her popular in the country.

In 1997 she moved to New York and spent nearly 10 years there, learning with established Chinese artist Zhang Xiaogang and polishing her skills.

After a long hiatus, Ai returned to hold an exhibition, titled I Love Aijing, at the National Museum of China in Beijing in 2012. Her works had earlier featured in some New York galleries, including Urban Art Infill.

Dialogue is her first solo exhibition in Europe.

One of her pieces, Tree of Life-an installation depicting a leafless oak tree made of thousands of disposable chopsticks-is now on display at the La Chine Ardente in Belgium. The show runs through Oct 4, as part of a group exhibition of 25 Chinese contemporary artists.

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