Untitled, ink on silk, 60 x 60 cm 2005-2011

Rebecca Catching: In this painting you’ve created a mountain which is also a house and another mountain
which is spouting a flag. Can you explain the man-made elements in this work?
Chai Yiming: This house is like a mountain, because we live in the city and we are surrounded by man-made
things. This a flag represents how every country wants to plant a flag to claim their territory. To
show that he the master of the mountain, but at the same time, the flag represents those stores
that advertise with flags to tell to the customers, “You can come and buy me; I am very cheap!”
Rebecca Catching: You often incorporate erotic imagery into your work. Can you tell us about the mountains
in this piece?
Chai Yiming: These mountains are like breasts because there are lots of mountains that look like breasts.
Mountains are like breasts because they nourish many things like grass and trees and on the
mountains there are lots of rivers and streams.
Rebecca Catching: What is the significance of the stack of people lying on the ground here?
Chai Yiming: They are making a pile and their form is like the form of a mountain. Because the forms of
natural things are always with no straight lines. When people die they become the nutrients for
the mountain and then the mountain produces nutrients to feed the people.
Rebecca Catching: Can you tell me about the donkey in this piece and why he is wearing a halo?
Chay Yiming: He has a halo like the gods in the Western painitngs of the Middle Ages. I think not just gods
but all living things should have a halo.
Rebecca Catching: Because all living things are precious?
Chai Yiming: My way of thingking is realy conservative. There are lots of people who don’t care about these
things. Humans have no reason to say that they are the highest beings. If they say that, it means
that they have no respect, without respect then there will be chaos. Confucious, Zhuangzi and
Buddhism all promote harmony between man and nature.
Rebecca Catching: That person in “Untitled 2″ looks like a crash test dummy, was that your intended effect?
Chai Yiming: He is a fake person, who doesn’t look too much like a person. It has to do with the literati
mindset – albeit the literati mindset made strange. For the literati when they didn’t have an actual
mountain, they could create a “jiashan” or rockery so they would be able to have the feeling of a
mountain. But instead it’s a mountain in a snow globe.
Rebecca Catching: What is that liguid leaking out of the figure?
Chai Yiming: It’s like when it’s cold in the windter when liquid turns to solid, like in outerspace or in a cold
place. Also it’s like many things made here which are not of such high qulaity they often leak.
Rebecca Catching: Tell me why are you interested in creating an image of a “fake person”?
Chai YIming: There is this Daoist term “zhenren” like when a person reaches a level of knowledge
(enlightenment) then they become a “zhenren” or real person.
The oposite of this is a fake person. There are very very few “zhenren.” If you look at Confucius
was very respectful. You must be respectful, otherwise you are not considered a person.
Nowadays we have no “zhenren” because we’ve become animals and monsters. We now
consider our current [monstrous] state to be real, and the the real “zhenren” are considered fake.
Rebecca Catching: What is this figure pushing on the outside of the glass ball?
Chai Yiming: There are lots of peole who want to be “jiaren” or fake people. They want to come in to the
sphere of the “zhenren” but the “zhenren” won’t let them come in. In the purpose of the action
made is not clear. It could be construed as touching or pushing or maybe trying to get in.
Rebecca Catching: Can you tell me about the hand gestures of the “zhenren”?
Chai Yiming: His gestures are taken from Guanyin, the thousand armed Buddha although I just painted two arms.
Rebecca Catching: Why are you interested in Guanyin?
Chai Yiming: Guanyin is there to save the world and also care about each individual. The “jiaren” or fake
people always say they will save or help people but they don’t really ever do anything constructive.

 
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