Chinese artist, Gao Hang works across various mediums and has a very artistic approach to capturing your’ attention and sparking a succession of thoughts.
Utilising the neo-pop movement from the 1980s and 1990s Hang applies subject matter and colour as a concept and a foundation. His latest work, 21st Century Realism, is unequivocally a real critique of modern human behaviour with ironic running commentary concerning our need for instant gratification and how we use images to do so.
My inspiration comes from art history and how I read what’s happening around me. I believe the greatest artists in the history have resisted documenting their era immersively
Hang’s theory examines the need to post ourselves online as an instinct of survival to prove we exist depicted in fabulous neo-pop compositions with a blurred fluorescent aesthetic without missing any attention to detail.
Gao’s work is a masterpiece of contemporary modern art fused with artistic humour that will sustain execution. Yet ultimately brings to light the underlying concept of online survival and instant gratification in a way where you can’t help but to find it ironic. That will keep you talking long after you have visited one of his exhibitions. In this interview, we learn more about Hang’s creative process, inspiration and more.
Q: What is your inspiration, and why do you do what you do?
A: My inspiration comes from art history and how I read what’s happening around me. I believe the greatest artists in the history have resisted documenting their era immersively. Instead, they have been questioning about their era and have abstracted what’s around them through their own digest system, which could be painful yet fascinating at the same time.
Another concept that generates my works is my understanding of visual language, painting language to be specific, in terms of what a painting (a certain language) is able to carry and the objecthood of a painting (a certain language). To me, my painting is like stand-up comedy, they can only do so much about solving real problems. But brutal honesty, absurdity, and humor are very powerful qualities in any type of conversation.
Q: Can you tell us about your creative process?
A: My recent paintings are concerned with image “definition” in digital graphics, especially those from the last 20 years. I understand digital graphics as 21st century “found objects”. I am interested in objects that are bathing in modern technology’s greatness, while exposing a certain rawness, oddity, or awkwardness.
From the last 20 years, I was inspired by the fact that how graphical spectaculars could end up being rawness and ridicule in the digital image evolution. However, it is that rawness and ridicule that triggers the same creative impulse with what the painting process can offer. The effect is an actual physical feedback during process: could be surprise, a shifting attitude, a more extreme emotion – my secretions as a human being. I want my practice to simulate a modern production method, but with a high fault tolerance.
Q: What is the reason behind your use of human habits and humor in your works?
A: The recognizable human behaviors in my works is a starting point that locks my works in this era we are living in. Humor is a more advanced tool for me to abstract a certain period of time or a certain narrative concept. However, I must make sure that I am creating humor by the objecthood of painting as a painter, instead of making literal jokes in general. This practice could be risky, so it involves a lot of processing and self-critic because essentially I am creating color field paintings, not emphasizing certain punchline in jokes.
Q: What was the first piece of art you made that cemented your path as an artist?
A: I would’ve remembered a piece if there’s one that cemented my path as an artist. So I guess I don’t have that one piece of work I can share. But I would say it was the moment that I realized fine art is a respective subject of knowledge, just like every other subjects, made me believe I can rely my future on something I have enjoyed doing.
Q: What was your most memorable exhibition, and why?
A: It should be THE ARRIVAL OF SPRING, 2015. It featured David Hockney’s digital paintings and video projects, at PACE Gallery in Beijing. Oh boy, there are so many things about that show… The better acceptance/handling of the most advanced digital tool by an older generation painter; The brightness of digital colors that echoes, even enlarges Hockney’s color theory; The idea of adjustable scales of digital images. Etc.
Q: What is your favourite piece, and why?
A: This is a hard one… The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone living, I guess. I know there’s whole theory and understanding of the concept of death. But I like how accurately and humorously Hirst described the power and the ridiculousness of human being over the nature. It’s like, the scariest, one of the most respective monsters in the great ocean is now cut into 3 pieces with its guts naked in boxes filled with peacock-blue liquid, which the shark will never understand what it is, being shown to people as long as we want. If you think about the awkwardness of that shark, you would want to purchase this piece and put it in your living room.
Q: What do you think about the current state of the art world?
A: The “current state” is always the hardest to realize, let alone try to summarize it, no matter what year it is. I can only say that the art world is changing very fast, faster than ever, majorly because of the internet and how art people interacting on the internet.
Q: What role does the artist have in society?
A: I always think artists with different media should function differently in society due to the different information and dimension a certain media can carry. If I must summarize a role for all artists, I would say artists show people a different angle of human evolution.
Q: What artists have caught your attention in the last five years?
A: Tala Madani, Austin Lee, Julie Curtiss, Taylor White, Ellen Berkenblit, etc.
Q:What’s next for you as an artist?
A: Seeking more critical opportunities to exam my art practice; Preparing upcoming international solo exhibitions gratefully and wholeheartedly; Researching more and reading more; More efficient studio working schedule.