Gan Zhuoan graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts and his work, Gan, received a lot of media attention and coverage at his graduation exhibition. Originally from Panama, Zhuoan has been influenced by many different cultures and environments from a young age and has experienced many unspeakable things, which has led him to express himself through painting. In his paintings, figures in three languages are used to express his cultural background. There are tattoos and paintings as various elements of his life, hands and facial expressions that convey emotions and thoughts. He turns himself into a painting that tells stories about him to the world as he explores and learns about himself.
Gan Zhuoan毕业于中央美术学院, 他的毕业作品《Gan》在毕业展览上受到了媒体的广泛关注和报道。他来自巴拿马，从小就受到许多不同文化和环境的影响，也经历了许多无法言说的事情，这使得他通过绘画来表达自己。在他的画中，用三种语言的人物来表达他的文化背景，有纹身和绘画作为他生活的各种元素，有传达情感和思想的手和面部表情。他把自己变成了一幅画，在探索和了解自己的同时，向世界讲述关于他的故事。
Can you tell us about your work Gan? Why are there so many human forms?
I think the various poses, movements and expressions of people are very expressive. The characters in the work are able to tell a story more strongly through their expressions and body language, which then gives the audience an intimate sense of carrying it.
As a Panamanian-born Chinese, you may have different cultural symbols in you. How do they influence you and how are they reflected in your work?
The symbols in the work, apart from enriching the images, are also elements and ideas from my life. These elements are things that I like or things that I have experienced.
Your paintings all take life as a starting point. There are some bitter and confused emotions. Why did you want to do this style of work?
This creation is also a series. It's sort of me telling the world where I come from and how I see the world. It's true that my view of the world can be a bit confusing and dark due to various experiences, but there are still various points of humour and happiness in the paintings. We all know that there is sweetness and bitterness in life anyway.
Are these diverse cultural symbols in you advantageous under the Chinese art education system, and which ones specifically? Is China’s art school education system diverse and culturally inclusive?
In the past few years in China I have felt that fine art is becoming more and more diverse. However, I still feel that it is a relatively simple and not yet fully open state. So some of the symbols in my images may still seem unfamiliar or difficult to understand.
How do you think this education system has influenced you or Chinese contemporary art, given the rigorous drawing exams required to enter the top art schools in China and the years of drawing practice students have had?
The impact is still huge. Everyone goes through an unconventional and rigorous system to get into university and sometimes you can feel like a robot. But I don't think this is a particularly big problem after all I still know a lot of very good and creative students. There are also those who have come through this type of training.
How do you see the development of emerging artists in China?
China is mainly a large population. It is a very challenging country. There are too many people studying art, but it doesn't mean that everyone who studies art will become an artist. Those who choose this path must be able to endure hardship. I think you have to persevere and then keep digging into your own creativity. At the same time, you have to make something different and more unique than others.
Many painters have been born under the Chinese art system. How have these factors contributed to the development of the Chinese art market? As an emerging artist, how do you see the development of the Chinese art market?
I think the Chinese art market is still quite young and there is a lot to be explored, and people's tastes and interests change a lot every year. So I think that in the future, apart from painting, other media and ways of presenting works will become more and more popular. At the same time, painting will retain a sense of beauty and character. This kind of thing is not to be forgotten.
What are the challenges you face as an emerging artist? What goals do you have for your future artistic career?
There will definitely be challenges. After all, creating a good piece of work is a complicated but enjoyable thing to do. I think about giving up when I'm not inspired or when I'm not happy with the work I've produced. The art profession is also mainly about perseverance and constant effort to discover your own style, flavour and direction. My ultimate goal is very close to these three points. To let the world know the language of my images and at the same time let them feel what I want to say, and finally to influence people who have dreams and ideas. To not stop growing and learning. To be my true self.
Interviewer: WenQing Liang
Images courtesy of the artist, 2022.