Long-haired and quietly spoken, China's most well known avant garde filmmaker stands in front of his new solo show at the Australian Centre for Moving Image and explains that politics has no place in art.
"It's impractical to expect a piece of artwork to carry too much social or historical responsibility," says Yang Fudong. "Artwork cannot solve something that a revolution can."
It is a curious statement for a man hailed for portraying the changes China has faced in recent times, especially Chinese youth. But Fudong's works, often black and white, highly stylised and without plot, are focused on individuals and landscapes.
"I come from an oil painting background and that's what I studied at university. During that time I was exposed to a lot of contemporary art so for me, working with different images is really just a matter of medium. I consider this a form of painting too," he says.
For fans of Fudong's aesthetic devotion, there will be something old and something new in the new exhibition, said to be the largest survey of his work yet.
"Initially ACMI invited me to do a solo show and then we started talking about what new element I could bring and to this exhibition that's how we conceived the idea for a totally new work, a commission" he says.
The full title of eight panel installation The Coloured Sky: New Women II is the second part of an earlier work dubbed New Women, despite the earlier work being in black and white.
"What I've tried to convey here is a feeling about childhood. So imagine holding a piece of plastic candy wrapper against the sun. You have all sort of colourful reflections and that's the kind of feeling I'm trying to represent here," he says.
The works are melancholic and psychedelically filtered, featuring beautiful women in swimwear moving slowly, hypnotically.
"For me the perfect female image is about youth, it's something very beautiful and full of energy, it's something about longing you have, it's about the future and your dreams," says Fudong.
The interest in energy and newness is apparent for Fudong who says he feels that his own career is still moving in unexpected directions, hinting that 3D might be the next move.
"I think for all artists regardless of medium, it's all about how to create the best way of expressing the environment you are close to. At the moment I am thinking of doing something with more dimension, perhaps something in 3D," he says.
"As you get older the way you understand life and how you perceive society as a whole is something constantly undergoing changes. Maybe those changes have an impact on my creative practice."
Fudong, a native of Shanghai, has been shown in galleries in New York, Paris, Norway and London. The extent of his success does not seem to have phased the 43-year-old, who says his forging foreign connections will hopefully do more for other Chinese artists, especially in Australia.
"Here in Australia there are so many galleries and museums, possible platforms for Chinese artists to showcase their own work. In the future I hope to see more young, up and coming Chinse artists taking this up and I hope Australian audiences can experience a more diverse Chinese culture," he says.
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