For three decades, bamboo painting has been part of the everyday life of artist Shan Fan. He first became familiar with the techniques of traditional Chinese painting as a student in China, but when he moved to Hamburg, Germany, in the mid–1980s, his study of abstract western art altered the way he viewed his own traditions. Whether in ink on rice paper, in oil on canvas, in copying a traditional classic, or in the medium of performance, Shan Fan’s work reflects upon and transforms the medium of bamboo painting, which already has potentially abstract characteristics. For him, lines become planes, seconds become hours, entropy becomes a physical experience.
To this day, Shan Fan is persistently continuing his work on his Alphabet of Bamboo Painting. Parallel to this, he has been working since 2008 on transferring twelve selected bamboo paintings to large canvases, using oils and the finest brushes. Gradually, they are building the foundation for a series of pictures whose details make them seem almost like film close-ups. ‘Since I keep transferring increasingly smaller sections of a piece of bamboo onto the same size canvas, I eventually reach a point where it is no longer possible to recognize them as bamboo.’ (Shan Fan) In accordance with the aesthetics of the artist’s material and production methods, he uses concentrated, rapid brush strokes, slowly panning the ink, as it were, across the surface, creating planes millimeter-by-millimeter. In deciding to use a circular brush movement, Shan Fan gives his images a vortex-like effect. The final result of this development is a black or–in the case of the white-on-white paintings–a white plane.
www.ftn-books.com has the HOMELAND catalogue published in 2010 now available.