More and more people than ever before are becoming concerned with Chinese contemporary art. Someone once said that contemporary art is the sudden unworldly power of the soul that is in durance. When there comes a blooming in art, at the same time arises more tumult, blunder and dissatisfaction. An Kun, is a painter enjoying solitude, who in his unique and subtle way brings us to a peaceful place expressing to us his inspiration from this life.
Born in 1968, An Kun was set on painting without any particular reason other then just enjoying the time he spends standing in front of the canvas pouring out his inspiration. Though his choose to become an artist much like his contemporaries was to choose a life of poverty, he has never tired, rather persists in solitude, until now. He naturally shines through in his latest series about ‘ZEN'. An Kun himself explains that the contemporary environment has too much blunder, thick color and shallow meanings that block people from thinking, leaving them at a loss.
As most people do, after graduation An Kun held many jobs. While working as an art designer as well as a decoration designer for a corporation, he was hardly able to release his soul and be free in his creation. Recalling how he felt at the time, he said only painting could bring his mind back. Therefore, he relieved himself from the "mess" and offered his self a chance for freedom in life through art. He prefers to stay in the studio by himself, working quietly and meditating with great composure, which demonstrates his natural otherworldly instincts.
I was surprised to see the characters in his painting so bony and suffering, quite opposite to the image of ‘ZEN' in one's mind for thousands of years. An Kun's explanation is quite simple but meaningful, because of this uneasy world, one's soul is unable to cease all suffering and reach peace. Using simple and thin colors, with light and shadow, he creates austere faces, which appear as if they are silently enjoying the solitude in life and the peace.
In the ‘ZEN' series, I clearly feel a sense of fluidity like a flowing stream; I asked him if it's because of his education in Suzhou. He smiled and answered, perhaps because his paintings blended the different styles of south and north. To me, his words appear modest and natural, just as his paintings.
I am always wondering about how An Kun would view and judge the phenomenon of using political elements to please the public. Rather then sharp critical reflections as some other artists represent, he gently explains that he does not like to source his inspiration from the flaw in politics, especially exposing the shorts of a nation. "I prefer to use my paintbrush to convey my thoughts about life. If people can achieve a sense of peace from my art work, then it's more than enough for me!"
When questioned about his experience in the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, he said that what most instructors teach is how to acquire the techniques necessary for creating art works, which are more related to self skill. And this "force-feeding a duck" way of teaching breaks the "wings" of imagination. At this point, he recalls and appreciates the Chuan Art (Art from the school of Sichuan). At the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute students are instructed in contemporary art paying attention to foster students' creativity. It creates great environments for studying and creating art. This is why the power of Chuan Art is not ignorable.
When I mentioned his son, An Kun showed the affection of a proud father. He said, kids have their own world, one in which they enjoy all the wonderful things in the world. Venturing into a child's world allows adults to understand and appreciate new things, and it could help promote the relationship between a father and a son, and is likewise, favorable for creating.
"I like newborn things!" is what An Kun said to me in his concluding sentence. Like a kid full of curiosity, he is intent on discovering and creating. With his unconstrained soul, he has endless inspiration. With his unique personality, his work touches people's hearts. And with his sense of peace, people's minds are purified if only for a short while.
Born In Jiang Su Province, China
Graduated From Su Zhou Crafts And Fine Arts Institute, Jiang Su, China
Developed in the Oil Department of China Centrel Fine Arts Acadamy
Empty, Gallery Soemo Fine Arts, Beijing, China
Universe - Group Show, Art-Beijing Gallery, 798, Beijing, China
Songzhuang Artists Invitation Exhibition, Art Warehouse Gallery, Beijing, China
Early Spring - Artists Group Show, Beijing, China
The Openning of Gallery Art-Shanghai, Shanghai, China
The 3rd Songzhuang Art Festival, Song Zhuang, Beijing, China
Oil Works From Songzhuang, Songzhung Art Museum, Song Zhuang, Beijing, China
Chinese Contemporary Art Group Show, 798, Beijing, China
Shanghai Art Fair, Shanghai, China
Oil Works of Figures, Nanjing, china
Taking Sunshine-Art Performance, Nanjing, China