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Eye-catching landscapes don’t need glitter to produce mystery.

What Shi Zhiying withholds in color, she grants in space—a vastness into which we can cast our own imagination

Shi Zhiying lives in Shanghai. She graduated from Shanghai University Fine Arts College where she studied oil painting. Her work has been featured at Sydney’s White Rabbit Gallery, White Space in Beijing, and the Shanghai Art Museum.

“The Infinite Lawn” is on view at James Cohan Gallery in Shanghai through July 26, 2012. The interview below is translated from the Chinese by Veronica Pan and Karolle Rabarison.

All images © copyright the artist, all rights reserved.

TMN:

So, where is the best place to get xiaolongbao in Shanghai?

Shi Zhiying:

Probably the Lv Bo Lang Restaurant in Town God’s Temple (Cheng Huang Miao in Yu Garden).

TMN:

I was in and out of Shanghai the year Alain Robert, the Frenchman who climbs skyscrapers, was arrested for scaling Jin Mao Tower, and I heard people refer to his Spiderman stunts as art. What was your reaction?

Shi Zhiying:

Very interesting. Everyone has their own thing.

TMN:

When did you begin creating art?

Shi Zhiying:

In childhood. I learned many things such as piano and calligraphy but gave them up for lack of interest. Then I learned to paint. I never considered whether it would be my job at that time, but I’ve been painting ever since.

TMN:

Why do you paint in black and white?

Shi Zhiying:

It is said that at three months babies can only see the world in black and white, so what is actually real? Painting in black and white gives people more space for imagination. Everyone sees the color they want to see.

TMN:

How did you get interested in Italo Calvino’s Mr. Palomar?

Shi Zhiying:

Mr. Palomar can be any one of us; there is nothing special about him. He lives a normal life like us. He goes on vacation, is close to nature, shops in the city, travels around the world. In facing the world, he comes up with many thoughts and ideas, so here the emphasis is not on Mr. Palomar but on “the experience of Mr. Palomar”—each of our experiences in everyday life.

TMN:

Was there anything about the story you didn’t like?

Shi Zhiying:

Not yet.

Karolle Rabarison is at home wherever she can satisfy her coffee habit. She currently lives in Bombay. More by Karolle Rabarison