Today we’d like to introduce you to Qigu Jiang.
Qigu, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I came to Chicago from Shanghai, China 31 years ago (1987) with two suitcases and $40 dollar in my pocket. I came as an art student and enrolled in the MFA degree program at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (on scholarship) and I graduated in 1990. Now, I am an adjunct full professor at the same school where I studied, and I currently teach both studio painting and art history courses. I am also the director (since 2008) for a none-for-profit gallery, The Research House for Asian Art (RHAA). RHAA promotes the cultural exchange between Asia and The United States and holds art exhibitions on regular bases. It is in Bridgeport in Chicago.
As an artist, I’ve been experimenting with many different art media including conceptual painting, installation, performance, oil painting, calligraphy, and ink painting in my artistic career. I have exhibited my work worldwide in galleries and museums in Asia, Europe, and here at home in America.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
Although I’ve been trying to create art with different art media all my life, I concentrate on ink painting in more recent years. As an art medium, ink painting has been practiced in China (Shuimohua), Japan (Sumi-e) and other Asian countries for thousands of years, however, the tradition continues today. The ink painting is unique, artist uses brush, ink, and water to paint on rice paper, and the traditional themes of the ink painting are all related with nature such as bamboo, chrysanthemum, birds and landscape, etc. The philosophy behind the ink panting is also very different from that of Western painting; for example, there is a teaching of ink painting which says: an ink artist must “uses ink as precious as gold”, which means he must restrain himself within the limit of his resources, never to abuse them. This principle could not only apply to an ink artist but all people in general in our society no matter what his or her cultural background is. In the West, we could find similar art practice commonly called the minimalism, however, only in an aesthetic sense, we can see the similarity between the ink painting and the minimalism, but as far as the social context goes, they are totally different. Ink painting also involves the meditation and artists would meditate first by making the ink in the traditional way before starting to paint, so your mind and your body will come as one when painting.
I studied ink painting when I was very young in China with a few masters, they taught me how to paint bamboo, landscape, etc. After I came to the United States, I have been exploring so many different things such as conceptual art and performance, but I never stopped to paint with ink. I have few bodies of ink works and themes ranging from figures, portraits, scholar rocks, to abstractions. I would be happy to share all my ink painting with you.
Artists face many challenges, but what do you feel is the most pressing among them?
I think there are always challenges that all artists must face, no matter where you are, who you are, and when the time is. An artist must produce artworks in both good quality and quantity consistently, meanwhile, artist must make a living. It is a historical hard task because there is something other than producing artworks that you can’t control. However, if you’re believing in art, in your heart, and your passion, and you never give up, never cease exploring and trying, your art will prevail.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
Last year I had a sole show at Bannister Gallery of RIC, Rhode Island, and a group show here in Zhou B Art Center in Bridgeport, Chicago. I am preparing my ink figures and scholar’s rocks for Pagoda Red Gallery right now. This year I have already had two shows in Shanghai in the summer, one sole show in Around Space Gallery and one group show in Chun Art Museum. I am planning a major museum show next year, however, it will be Shanghai, hope you can come to see. I don’t have a website, I think there are some images of my work on the internet, so if you interested in seeing my art you may like to google me first, if you like what you see, email to me firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange a studio visit.
And as the director of RHAA http://www.researchhouseforasianart.org, I would like to ask your support to our gallery by coming to see our shows. We had two exhibitions in the Fall: Scenes of Resistance in 1968 Chicago: The Photo Archive of K. Kofi Moyi and A City to Wear 2.0, a Survey Show on Contemporary Painting. Hope to see you in the future. Thanks.
- Address: 3217 S Morgan St. Chicago, IL 60608
- Website: http://www.researchhouseforasianart.org/
- Phone: 3129739282
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: the research house for asian art
- Facebook: the research house for asian art
Photo by Aimin Chai, Qigu Jiang