Celine Zhuang is the founder of Studio Gallery, a gallery space and residency program located in Shanghai. Next to this, she publishes ARTIST TALK, which is a monthly magazine accompanying the gallery program.
China Residencies: How and when did the residency start?
Celine Zhuang: The residency started September 2017. It started out because the gallery space in the urban area was suddenly recovered by the government. Second, we intended to provide more studios for outstanding artists to work in Shanghai, providing a space for artist who can work together, think and discuss about their creation process and to be able to reflect on their working environment with their peers.
CR: What is your role in the residency? How did you get involved?
CZ: My gallery currently has 2 different spaces. The gallery space is located in the city center; the project space is in the villa area a bit outside from the city center. I am currently the main financial person for the gallery and the person in charge.
CR: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
CZ: I studied traditional painting and calligraphy since childhood and practiced it until now. After the age of 14, I officially turned to Western plastic arts, and graduated from the Sculpture Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, which is one of the most important and most valuable concept sculptor schools in contemporary China. A full 24 years of artistic practice and thinking have given me the belief in the persistence of art professionalism.
During the 7 years from 2007 to 2015, I participated in the planning and execution of a series of international important art projects (Venice Biennale). I was fortunate to have deep insights into the creative context and development of Asian contemporary art at the most professional art level, and gradually became a professional, art researcher and art collection consultant. I have worked in Asia's most influential gallery, Arario Gallery, and have been working with the top European gallery KRINZINGER GALLERY since 2015 to explore the Asian art collection market. As a professional art collection consultant, I have participated in many of the world's top art fairs and have a solid understanding and judgment of the Chinese art market.
So in 2016, I founded my own gallery studio gallery, which adheres to the concept of “youthful but not following blindly” and support a series of academic projects and exhibition projects through artist residency, artist creation discussion records, lectures, etc. The goal is to promote powerful young artists, and strive to build a positive energy art value ecology, promote and spread real and valuable artists to think and work.
CR: How did you decide on the location of the residency?
CZ: At that time, I was looking at many places, but at the same time had to take into account the main criteria of the environment, a convenient transportation (reachability) and sufficient space for the studio. At present, Pujiang Overseas Chinese Town is the most suitable. Currently here is a branch of OCAT OCT Museum in the community of our resident space. Also, there are many public sculptors, which makes it a very suitable environment for living and creating.
CR: How many people are on staff? What is each person responsible for?
CZ: At present, there are 2 main responsible persons in the resident space. I am one of them and are responsible for the overall operation and promotion of the project. The other person is an artist. He is mainly responsible for the control of the academic quality of the project content. We have formed our core content ARTIST TALK magazine and printed it in the form of newspapers and periodicals. The goal is to record each work process of each resident artist, combing it to a final edit and finally implement it into this newspaper.
CR: What kinds of artists does your residency host?
CZ: The project space is relatively open to the artist's choice, including painting, installation, and sculpture. But in the future, we will focus more on sculpture artists (because sculptors are very viable, China is very lacking in this piece of academic content and excellent artists and art projects).
CR: For what lengths?
CZ: Usually each resident artist starts from scratch to the presentation of their work. The period is usually 2 - 2.5 months.
CR: What is the shortest and longest residency lengths of stay you'll consider?
CZ: The shortest residence time we hope will not be less than 40 days of intensive work, because in a short time it is impossible to see a change in the work results.
CR: How many artists in residence have you hosted so far?
CZ: So far, we have collaborated on six artists, two of whom are currently in residence (as of July 10th 2018). They will present their work and host an open studio on September 1st, 2018.
CR: What kind of artwork have the resident artists created? Can you give us an example or two of some of the most interesting projects by residents?
CZ: Korean artist Yang Renxi Inhee Yang is a painter who recently completed her residency, but she completely broke free from her previous work experience during the studio residency and has adjusted and challenged her traditional creative ideas. She took her paintings out from 2D into 3D space. The breakthrough in space and the connection with the current space has formed a space-painting project that is very immediate. Such projects are what we are happy to see because they truly bring challenges, breakthroughs and inspiration to the artists.
CR: Can you tell us a bit more about the opportunities you provide for residents to meet people in the local creative scene?
CZ: During the artist's residency, we will invite different artists, curators, and art industry insiders to come to the resident space to learn and communicate with artists.
CR: How do you promote your residency to attract local and international artist applications?
CZ: At present, we mainly promote the website, WeChat, Instagram, and of course many artists curator friends.
CR: Is there anything else you'd like to add about the program, your mission, or the opportunities you provide for artists?
CZ: Regarding our resident project, I think the core is our magazine ARTIST TALK. This content is not just a formal but a truly critical discussion. Therefore, when we invite each resident artist they will also be expected to be artists who can accept criticism. Of course, all criticism is directed towards the work, not the individual.
At the same time, combined with the artist's resident project, the gallery space exhibition project, the artist discussion and the studio gallery is dedicated to provide a space for an artist to create, to think and talk with others about their creation process, and an artist exchange platform based entirely on real work experience. To encourage and promote artists who have accumulated artistic thinking through long-term, large-scale and solid work is our mission.
This interview was conducted by Josue Chavez in July 2018 in Chinese and translated to English by Josue Chavez and Xiaoyao Xu.