Frame 61

Yi Jie Shen

Frame 61
Yi Jie Shen

"A great deal of my work is focused on violating the idea and institution of painting, channelling elements such as anger, revenge and an adoration of painting as an art form."


Could you tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been a practising artist and where did you study?

I recently completed my MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art, London. However, being born and raised in Taiwan, I first studied there and During my studies there I was taught to paint in a very traditional way since my college had its own classical traditions. At that time, I was completely focused on objects and techniques but didn't know how to push my practice to a further level.

After graduating in Taiwan, I stopped doing art for a while and worked as a graphic designer. I was still obsessed by art though, and eventually I decided it is an enigma that I just have to address in my life time. So, with this simple motivation, I decided to take up my studies again, this time in London.

Karma // 120mg

No more framing 2017

Sweat dreams

There is a subtle/stillness to your work, could you tell us about these objects you make and the inspiration behind them?

A great deal of my work is focused on violating the idea and institution of painting, channelling elements such as anger, revenge and an adoration of painting as an art form. I use those elements in a very inhibited way, but you can still feel the latent feelings everywhere in my work. The general sentiment is one of extraordinary complexity and it also shifts between my works.

In the last year at the RCA, I became really interested in Fluxus and IRWIN. I was inspired hugely by IRWIN’s principle: building one’s own artistic position out of one’s particular circumstances. I realised that I need to build my own unique strategy using my experiences and personality whether in subject matter or forms. I started refining my ideas with more of a focus on talking to the inner self. I dropped my brushes and oils totally which previously was the only way I painted at all. After struggling for a long time, it turned out very successfully. I found I had many more choices in how to approach my ideas, both in form and materials. Since then, I have used a lot of found and readymade objects and this change in turn generated a whole new phase of my practice.

This project is based on painting, violating it, pushing against it, making fun of it, and liberating it as well. Hence, the basic form still looks like painting and they are all hanging on the wall, but there are gaps between the wall and the works. I’m trying to free them from the wall in a very controlled way. Also, a feeble attempt to free them from the idea of the white cube - the neat gallery room, which I think contributes to why many people see art as aloof. Sincerely, yours -3 is an example of this kind of intent.

To further carry out this concept of a violation of painting, I also began to consider the framing of my works, even at times seeing it as more important than the work itself. Some frames support the content strangely, some violate it aggressively. To take Painting Synthesizer and Karma // 120mg as examples, the framing supports the works inside but is out of proportion, being much bigger and thicker than the contents; you can feel the weight of it, a sense of presence. The ready-made objects inside don’t have much narrative, it’s more about how different materials work together. In fact, you can see the content as nonsense content but they are changed by the deliberate use of the non-traditional, unexpected framing. And most of the objects are found in the street or are just something really cheesy; it’s all about jokes in a sense.

Painting synthesizer and Sincerely Yours, 2017

Painting synthesizer, 2017

You recently had your graduation show, how do you think it went?

It was really successful. People liked my work and told me how they appreciate seeing something different to what they’d seen before. There was a lady who was so excited seeing my works, she looked at them as a child looks at toys. Also, while taking pictures of them, she said that her birthday was coming up and now she know what her present would be. That made me really happy, knowing that I am not doing something that confuses people but instead leaves them, and myself, both satisfied.

Tell us a bit about how you spend your day/studio routine? What is your studio like?

I develop my ideas everywhere, around the city but not so much in my studio. For me, the studio restricts my ideas a lot. Every time I come up with an idea in daytime, I just keep it in mind and go for a walk, looking out for found objects to see how it goes, or after midnight, I stay in my room alone and consider my ideas while listening to the music that I really enjoy, like some lo-fi tunes. That makes me more focused on my practice and I can explore my thoughts more easily in an inexpressible way.

SALT, 2017

SALT (detail)

Tensions, 2017

Untitled, 2017

How do you go about naming your work?

It all comes from my personal experiences. When you see my work with the titles, the work becomes more narrative in a sense, otherwise I think my work is largely abstract.

I named the latest project KARMA since there has been a insoluble bond between me and painting for a such long time. It will always be present. The whole project is an attempt at violation; sometimes it rises above painting, others it is subservient to it. 

What artwork have you seen recently that has resonated with you?

Every work of Pravdoliub Ivanov’s. I think he is one of the most extraordinary artists. I like how he uses common objects to imbue his unique language with a sense of poetry. Also the way he approaches his ideas is really brilliant and precise. I was inspired by him a lot, and created a new work Sincerely, yours which is all based on readymade objects, keeping their original appearances.

Is there anything new and exciting in the pipeline you would like to tell us about?

I’m having a group show at the Co galleries in Berlin at the end of August. I’m really excited to have a show coming so soon after graduating. I’m looking forward to see how people will react to my work in Germany!

All images courtesy of the artist
Publish date 01/08/2017