In an afternoon at the end of May, Zhang shui’s recent works is exhibited at Nordica. Zhang shui, a name he got when he came to China, a British artist from London, a visiting scholar at Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and at Yunnan University in Kunming, who teaches at University of Arts, London, whose Chinese is as good as my English, so believe me, we tried hard to get the message through to each other.
“White light actually consists of seven colours, as rich and profound as the reality waved by time and space. To make these wonderful moments to ‘walk into the light’ is one of my ideas with this exhibition.” Zhang shui said.
Zhang shui had stayed in Beijing and Shanghai for a few years, and has the impression that Beijing, as the center of politics and culture, and Shanghai, a city in which one can feel the influence from European culture, are quite different from one another. And the artists from this two cities are always at odds with each other and so, the communication among them is quite limited. Zhang shui wants to better understand what’s going on in these two big cities, and he thinks to keep a certain distance from both is a way to get clearer picture of these two. That’s why he chose Kunming to stay, for two reasons, one is Yunnan homes colourful and unique minorities’ culture and two, the living cost is much cheaper than Beijing and Shanghai. So, Zhang shui came to Kunming with his wife and three sons in the 2004.
Chinese traditional culture, in Zhang shui’s eyes, is ‘very big’. “But lots of artists from China, the art they are trying to express, is much more westernized, very small space left to develop their own tradition.”
As a creative artist, Zhang shui regards his three sons as his masterpieces. They are all studying at an international school here in Kunming. His wife is also here learning Chinese. “My wife and my kids’ Chinese are much better than mine.” Zhang shui shrugged with a regretting appearance on his face, “I do hope my Chinese will be better so I can communicate better with people here.”
“Living in a city and to really enjoy it, you need to take buses and travel through the city, take a train and watch the countryside floating by, ride a bicycle wandering around each corner of the city, speak the language… Just get yourself exposed to this environment. Otherwise it’d be such a pity because you will remain a stranger to the culture and the tradition of this place!” Zhang shui has been to many places in Yunnan, “England is small, but Yunnan, big!” He said.