“Work of Heart”:Swedish artist Janeric Johansson’s Arts
TCG Nordica Gallery
Art Host: Mao Xuhui
Opening: 2005.4.2 20:00
Made in China
During ten month from August 2004 – June 2005 I have been living in Kunming China as an Artist in Residence and also Gallery Director at the Scandinavian-Chinese Cultural Centre T/CG Nordica. Kunming is the capital of Yunnan Province in South West China, and was not a new place for me. Already 6 years ago I made an installation project at the Yunnan Arts Institute together with ten Art Students, and at the same time made my first solo exhibition in Kunming. Following year I was back for the opening exhibition of T/CG Nordica.
Out from a famous sentence of the English author Rudyard Kipling: ”East is East and West is West and never the two will meet”, I made a painting which said something about the vision of Nordica. Kipling was a dedicated Imperialist, and from that point of view he saw the difficulties to combine east and west. In this painting you have to go far away to both sides to discover the Chinese letters for East and West, but without this imperialistic mind it can be very exciting when east and west coming together. So I call the painting: ”East is East and West is West and here the two will meet”
Nordica is in the middle of an old factory changed to Kunming Loft, where around 30 Chinese artists have their studios together with several galleries and restaurants. During these ten months I have had a great time and it has been a privilege to work close to some of the best artists in China. I will specially say thanks to the artists Tang Zhigang and Mao Xuhui for the inspiring talks through the year and Wu Weimin, the President of Yunnan Arts Institute who wrote the text for my exhibition. To Liu Lifen, for the good cooperation at the Nordica Gallery, and to Calle Rytterfalk for the help with the design of this book, to the staff of Nordica and all other friends I got to know during my stay in Kunming.
Nordica is not a place to promote Scandinavian Art. It’s much more a meeting place between East and West, for inspiration and understandings, and Im proud to have been a part of this the last year.
Kunming May 2005
This painting seems to be quite obvious at the first look. An earth globe with North and South America, made almost like a soup bubble. At the bottom is the Chinese word for Identity. But if you get really close to the painting you will be surprised and discover that everything is in Chinese, cut out from the map of Yunnan. You can find Kunming, Dali, Lijiang and Sichuanbanna, famous cities in Yunnan Province. In the fast changes of China I sometimes think that they are looking too much to America. Ten years ago there was a lot of old nice Chinese houses in Kunming. But now they are all gone. Instead you will find a new city with skyscrapers. Where have the identity gone?
Half a year ago I heard an interview on television where one of the leaders from Kunming said that his vision and dream was that every person in Kunming should have their own car. I think that this is very much an American dream. In USA 6% of the worlds population is living, and they are producing 25% of the global warming gases. Here in China 21% of the worlds population is living, and if they have America as a model, building the country for cars instead of people, I think it will be a catastrophe for the country and also for the rest of the world. The amount of cars are rising dramatically and there are already too much pollutions. I think we have to see out from a wider perspective. And at the same time keep our different identities and try not to lose our soul on the way.
China has such a long history and culture, so where is the identity today?
At the same time I have been living in Kunming for one year and it is a very important place for me. Because of that I have also given it a more visible place on the globe.
The content in this book is a result of five month works in the guest studio at TC/G Nordica, a Scandinavian – Chinese Cultural Centre in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province in southwest China. I didn’t know how it should work for me outside my Swedish studio. But when it was time for the exhibition I had done more than 20 paintings. It was a great inspiration to create side by side of 18 Chinese Artists studios in the old factory changed to Kunming Loft. In the middle of this you will find Nordica and some more galleries and restaurants.
When you look to my paintings you cant be passive. You have to move yourself in the room and first then my paintings are working. At the same time you will be a part of the art. The paintings change dramatically and you have to look from up to 5 different perspective on each painting.
Still after one year in China I cant speak any Chinese but my paintings can communicate and sometimes I feel that it works even better here then in the west.
My paintings are a mixture of different materials and methods. The paint is mostly acrylic but in the drawings oil is mixed with pencil. The horses are symbols for people and most of my artworks are about life. The three dimensional parts is made of galvanized metal, which make it possible to get the different angles. For the first time ever I have also made an installation out of photos.
Besides the work in my studio I have been working as a Gallery Director of Nordica and tried to make the big room more flexible for exhibition. I have also challenged some of the best and most famous Chinese artists to make their first solo exhibitions ever in China.
Kunming is not a new place for me. Already 6 years ago I made a project at the Yunnan Arts Institute together with some exhibitions. But I’m sure that this year, when I get some distance, has been a watershed both for me, and my art.
Kunming, China May 2005
Credits and Thanks
Thanks to the artists Tang Zhigang, Mao Xuhui and Ning Zhi for all the help and inspirational talks through the year, and to all the artists at Kunming Loft and teachers and students at the Art Universities.
Thanks to Wu Weimin, the President of Yunnan Arts Institute, who wrote the text for my exhibition.
Thanks to Calle Rytterfalk for the layout of the book, his fantastic photos and also the inspiration to get into the digital world.
Thanks to 4 incredible women, Anna Mellergard, the founder of Nordica, Xiao Rong the Director Manager of Nordica for her enthusiasm Liu Lifen for good cooperation with the Gallery and for the help with the Chinese characters in my paintings. Not as least my wife Eva, who still after thirty years of marriage, surprise me with her creative mind and support. Without her much of what I have done should never been realised.