• Ye Yongqing: Solo A Cappella—the Life of a Young Intellectual in a Small Town

    Solo A Cappella—the Life of a Young Intellectual in a Small Town

    By Ye Yongqing

    Liu Lifen is a talented young woman living in Kunming, Yunnan Province. I met her in 2000 at the Loft Artist Community, at a time when this small but culturally rich town in the Chinese hinterland was suddenly bursting with great creative energy. A flurry of activity from artist-run spaces and foreign cultural organizations brought hope to this culturally isolated town and its youth. A new generation was coming of age in this environment, and Little Liu (as I have always called her) emerged as a shining spirit among them. I have always seen her as a spokesperson for the aspiring artistic youth of the city.

    Little Liu has distinctive looks, a unique personality and a somewhat rebellious fashion sense. She is also humble and kind to others. When we first met, she was still a student, working as a volunteer at a foreign-backed art organization, where she honed many skills. It was only much later that I saw her artworks. Her paintings have a signature feminine air. They are bright, fresh and elegant, imbued with musical texture and poetic flow, and radiating a soft touch of gloom. Her style is simple, warm and easy-going as it reveals the beauty of the Yunnan sun and its flowing water.

    I understand her hometown is Lunan County, which has recently been renamed Shilin, after the Stone Forest. It is not a famous place, but it has left a deep impression on me for its karst terrain and its artistic legacy, as generations of early Yunnan artists painted the landscape in Guishan, an ethnic Sani village in the county. Among the scattered memories of a painter’s youth are so many fleeting yet lasting scenes, like the romantic recollections that spring so easily from all small, quiet towns, the contented moments that linger in the mind. This is perhaps the most frequent theme in Liu Lifen’s paintings.

    I follow her paintings back there, to the karst limestone and rolling red hills tinted a light purple, then deep blue, by the gold and red of the setting sun. The painter observes this process of change. Here there are emerald valleys, explosions of flowers and constellations of paths, bisected by a dark, meandering stream, poplar trees standing next to a hamlet, a crumbling stone wall surrounding a dark house, a shepherdess walking silently by with her flock. The days are slow and forgiving. In her works, Liu Lifen avoids the tourism, television, highways and ambitions that came later. It is as if it is still a long journey to reach that place, as if life has yet to change there, as if things have yet to be burned up by progress, convenient manufacturing and the bad habits of the outside world. There is no broken childhood here. Liu Lifen has rediscovered a typical childhood that brings us a laid back rhythm and outlook on time. The moments of being left behind by the world still linger, preciously and purely, in the artist’s works, with no ripping, tearing or crackling.

    Kunming, where Liu Lifen is based, has a touching artistic and cultural history worthy of pride. The artistic trends that have swept through since the 1970s and 80s have encouraged many followers. The emergence of Liu Lifen’s generation coincided with some of the most dynamic years for the city’s art scene. The self-organization of numerous private, autonomous art spaces has infused this once remote frontier city with diverse, international contemporary art genes, breaking the isolation that had trapped the city since the 1990s. This is not the self-serving local history of a particular generation, as if the entire world had been fully explored in the 1980s and 90s. That is simply inaccurate. There is more to this world than just terrain, than just mountain streams and valleys, rivers and ponds, great lakes and highlands, cities and streets, more than just silent observation of time’s passage across the red soil and forests of stone, or the time that eventually takes us all, much less the vision and mindset that deifies one group and holds the rest back. The world also encompasses the voices of one generation after another of people pressing forward. This artistic miracle that plays out again each day is like a halo composed of different voices, shining through the cosmos. Many among us once called out our names within, but few of us knew to turn our shouts into song. The first time I truly saw Liu Lifen’s painting was in the corner of her gallery, Tai Project. A pure voice and spirit that can lead us to a garden at the height of emotion unfolded before my eyes. It was like she was confronting the entire world on her own, singing solo, a cappella, with no accompaniment whatsoever. Little Liu’s large watercolors on paper are refreshing, tranquil and resonant, like a lone voice, each note, each form, stroking the emotions of the viewer with an inspiring light. In Yunnan, Sweden, Australia, Iceland and Southeast Asia, Little Liu has taken part in many workshops and art events, employing diverse mediums and methods to create, perceive, express and share this joy, like the countless sprouts, rooted beneath the great trees of home, looking up to the boundless azure sky with dazzling leaves, yearning to grow. Like the prickle of dense grass growing across the land, the breath of freedom and sunlight permeating the soil, the bittersweet sound of birdsong in the heart.

    There is one kind of passion that has always had a hold over me—the kind of thought and action that marries the yearning for the outside world with the precious qualities of the people of a particular place. Self-exploration is a part of growing up, as well as a part of history. That year, on the occasion of a bustling art exhibition at the Loft in Kunming, it was with in a state of joyous surprise that I wrote the following expectations I had after seeing Liu Lifen and that generation of young artists for the first time: “Winter has not even begun, but now spring is upon us. What has happened to winter? Outdated things become discounted, and history disappears with great speed. The present has become a synonym for backwardness as we constantly set our sights on the future. The pace of life has cast the present day far behind us, and now, forgets you and me. We have become people living in tomorrow.” Since then, I have watched as many stepped off this dream-launching stage of the Loft and departed from Yunnan. This has become the norm. And among the dizzying shadows of a generation stepping out into the world, Little Liu has become the most dedicated and outstanding of them all.

    The haplessness and conservatism of Kunming today leaves it once again a cultural wasteland in a state of regression. A once flourishing art scene has folded in on itself and ceased spreading its influence. After the cultural and economic tides receded, history and the present returned once again to a state of isolation in the cultural hinterland. Fortunately, we have Liu Lifen’s art space, which, in its carefree, natural and pure character, reveals to us the responsibilities of the artist and the joys of creation: the flowers of the everyday that emerge from the heart, and the yearning for the outside world, give rise to a receptive antenna in the interaction between the local everyday and the fluent internationalization, one which allows for the people of a place to maintain their connection to the world; rebellion against the narrowness of one’s surroundings leads to an outward-facing stance; deep love for a place leads to great sensitivity towards its decline; beneath the foam rising from the soil after the tide of art has retreated is a hardpan from which nothing can grow. History has placed the responsibility of bringing things forward onto the shoulders of gentle Little Liu. This is history’s joke, and the unavoidable pain of a generation of young culturally-oriented youth living on the frontier.

    In recent years, every time I return to Kunming, I like to visit Little Liu’s gallery, Tai Project. This, the last of the city’s art spaces, is filled with artworks and flowers, and marked by the same allure and contradictions as her paintings, wavering between joy and solitude, light and heavy. This is the new gathering place and central base for Kunming’s culture. We sit on the stone steps in front of the garden, and starting in the afternoon, lovers of art begin to flow in from every corner of the city in a continuous stream that lasts into the evening.

    The streetlights come on, and the routine-followers hurry home for dinner. The streets now quiet, the sounds of our clinking glasses and singing voices carry far, breaking the silence of the night and the tepid, unchanging atmosphere of the city.

    Few youths can extol the life and art of this city with such delightful clarity.

    July 4, 2017, Woolf Garden, London
    (Translated by Jeff Crosby翻译:谢飞)

  • 叶永青:独自清唱 ——小城文艺青年丽芬的成长

    独自清唱 ——小城文艺青年丽芬的成长







    我一直被一种激情所征服——就是那些把对于外部世界的渴望与一个地方可贵的社群品质联系起来的认知与行动。自我的探寻,是成长的一部分,亦是历史的一部分。当年,在活跃的昆明创库艺术展览上,我满怀惊喜地为刘丽芬们一拔年轻人的初次出场的展事写下这般的期盼:“冬天尙未开始,春季已经展开,冬天哪里去了?过时的东西已经打折,历史飞快地消失。 当下成了落后的代名词,不停地放眼未来,生活的脚步把今天远远的抛在后面,现在,被你我所遗忘,我们,成了一群活在明天的人。”从那时起,目送着许多从创库这个梦想开始的舞台上走出云南成为常态。在一代人走向世界的炫目的背影中,没错,小刘当之无愧的成为其中最勤勉与出色的一员。






  • 管郁达:刘丽芬的作品年代学与工作室路径







    1998年—2002年,刘丽芬在云南艺术学院美术学院中国画系学习。临近毕业的那一年(2002年),她并没有像国画系的多数同学那样,画些山水、花鸟交差。令人意外的是,她画了一些像是自画像的纸本彩墨作品,这批作品明显受到了莫迪里阿尼、苏丁、毕加索蓝色时期作品的影响。忧郁、孤独、伤感、颓废, 弥漫着一种“世纪末”的哀婉情调。从中不难看出,那时的艺术家沉湎于自我内心的世界,其基调本质上是内敛的、忧伤的。若干年后,她自己也说:“我根本就不会画中国画。

    2005年—2006 年,刘丽芬漂洋过海,远赴瑞典Hylliepark folkhogskola学院学习。在这之前,她还参加了2001年云南艺术学院北欧交流访问项目和2003年—2004年,由昆明TCG诺地卡和瑞典马尔默发起的,“糖·盐”瑞典—中国女性艺术交流访问项目,这是一个两地艺术家互动的观念与行为艺术计划,以身体和糖、盐作为创作媒介的互动合作作品。驻地计划的跨文化视野和工作经验带给她的影响,远远超出了学院派所教授的那些技法。刘丽芬的创作一直注重精神性与思想方法,与她在欧洲亲历当代艺术的洗礼是分不开的。


    2006年,刘丽芬回到故乡昆明。到了冬天,昆明创库艺术家工作室正好空了一间出来,刘丽芬和瑞典进驻艺术家Janeric Johansson 一起租下了这间二楼的工作室。这是一间背阴的屋子,平日没有阳光,很冷。在昆明,据说艺术家是否工作是要先看看太阳出来没有?



    2007年春天,刘丽芬将工作室搬到了创库顶楼。她很开心,她说:“顶楼空了很久,我搬进去给新空间换地板,我在在里面奔跑。”这一年,她在昆明、北京两地奔跑。 与服装设计师石志洁、杜茜、BUTTONHOLE,实验音乐人Dan Froberg合作,策划、出展了“第一眼野地”服装秀现场装置。继续深入前一阶段的实验,作品更加强调日常性与生活美学的发现;2007年9月—11月还参加了管郁达策划的“情景链接——宋庄—西南艺术家交流计划”, 她的行为、装置作品《情书》,将每个观众视为创作者,邀请所有遇到的人,为自己或她(他)写一封情书,装入制作的信封内。收到的情书可以是任何物品,文字、一缕发丝、一件信物、一张涂鸦、一盘CD、一个唇印、一根草、一片叶子、一个号码、一个标签……。这件作品,可以看作是“爱的祈祷”,相信信仰和爱的力量;同时,她继续纸本彩墨创作,画面中的女人或独处空屋、或置身郊野,与动物、植物同体。开始出现各种花草、动物,特别是仙鹤与羽毛的形象。观看这些绘画,仿佛“重返伊甸园”和大自然的母体,温暖、美丽又令人惆怅。与自然对话、交流,重新发现“风景”,这也是当代艺术在云南不容忽视的一种个人传统。

    2008年,刘丽芬策划参加了昆明云画廊和越南河内Nhasan Studio发起的“云南—越南女性艺术家进驻交流项目”。她创作的布面综合材料作品《无用之门—龙卷风》,类似中国文人画中的册页与日记书写。艺术家以《无用之门》 命名了2002年至2008年间的几十本工作日记,这些日记记录着艺术家每天、每月必须去做的每件事情,在记录完成后又习惯性的进行勾画、涂抹与篡改。所以,这些“图形日记 ”早已超出“日记”的实用性,像是艺术家心路历程的意识流手帐,其持续的书写和涂改如和尚撞钟诵经,更像是一种日常行为的修持。

    2009年是刘丽芬行为艺术收获颇丰的一年。艺术家的足迹在昆明、丽江、西安、美国亚利桑那州 Prescott 等地留痕。6月19日—20日,她先在丽江玉湖村雪山脚下创作了互动行为《伪饰》, 9月中旬又在西安白鹿原实施了行为作品《倾斜》,11月应邀参加美国亚利桑那州Prescott大学艺术驻地计划,创作了行为作品《携带》;2009年底,她又在昆明云南省博物馆的“奇观”展上重新实施了2007年在宋庄做过的互动装置《情书》。这些作品,主要关注人与自然的关系,以及女性身体作为母体与土地的联系、纠葛。艺术家用身体亲近大地万物,体现了一种回归的意愿,也是对喧嚣尘世的拒绝。她这一时期的纸本彩墨与油画作品,更多地将植物、动物拟人化,表达一种雌雄同体的身体意识与生命意识,画面也更具装饰性和平面性。

    2010年5月,刘丽芬组织策划了《漫游-国际艺术家驻地项目》,并在昆明创作了大型绘画拼贴《房间里》;6月—8月,刘丽芬与瑞士苏黎世艺术家 Nathalie Bissig合作,创作了行为作品《我们之间》、《风吹草动》(影像记录:Kris Ariel,鲁啸天);随后,又在越南胡志明市战争博物馆创作实施了行为影像作品《呼吸》;10月,在昆明TCG诺地卡文化中心,创作了装置作品《芝士系列》(材料:矮柜,剪纸,杂志,裁纸刀,折纸)、《执谁之手》(材料:拐杖,香料,蘑菇,模特,摇椅)。其作品数量和质量都堪称高峰。她的行为作品《我们之间》、《风吹草动》、《呼吸》,装置作品《执谁之手》,探讨了女性身份与角色的自我认同在当代社会中的困境、像是“枪炮中的玫瑰”,具有现实针对性和批判性;绘画拼贴《房间里》则是一组极具实验性的重要作品,刘丽芬尝试在空间、材料与时间之间架构一种多维的转换,这是她个人艺术史上的一个大胆突破。可惜未能彻底推进。



    2014年夏天,她参加了瑞典玛丽安娜隆德文化中心(KAiM)“Visit14项目”。玛丽安娜隆德的森林和野地变成了工作室,顶楼房间插满了野花。 在瑞典玛丽安娜隆德的森林和野地,刘丽芬利用森林材料和二手店物件创作地景装置《生产机》,这是一件浪漫诗意,却又带有一种超现实主义精神的灵异的作品,至今仍在进行,它的结果就像是一个神秘的寓言,谜底有待揭晓。这一时期的纸上绘画作品更加注重意境,轻盈、优美,宁静而祥和。


    刘丽芬的艺术遵从自己心灵的召唤和身体的痛苦,她的作品是生命与大自然丰厚的馈赠。就像旅途中的风景,无声地揭示出生命与自然那种创世纪的力量。刘丽芬的作品,服从了这一伟大法则的吁请和召唤。在心灵的法则与宇宙的秩序面前,“故乡”歌喉的秘密逐渐敞开,就像伟大的瑞典诗人特朗斯特罗姆所言:“厌倦所有带来词的人,/词而不是语言,/我走向雪覆盖的岛屿。/荒野没有词。/空白之页向四方展开!/我遇到雪上鹿蹄的痕迹。/语言而不是词。 ”(《自1979年3月》)心灵敞亮之处,语言自己生成。刘丽芬是醒着做梦的人,她的作品以梦为马,塑造了本地的精神生活诗意的“屋顶”,揭示了“屋顶”之上、云的那边,那个生生不息的神秘的创造之源。


  • 罗菲:刘丽芬的梦与生活世界

    ——罗菲 2017年



    一、 选择一种生活方式:作为画廊主的刘丽芬



    刘丽芬:说到别人的时候我是非常清晰的,说到自己永远都不清晰。我第一次出国在飞机上认识了TCG诺地卡文化中心的创始人之一孟安娜(Anna Mellergard),后来就在诺地卡工作,也正是这个工作为我开启了人生的另一条路。我原来学国画,这和我后面的工作关系不大。2006年我从瑞典回来后陷入了很深的挣扎,就是对自己身份认定的矛盾:我要么做一个文化工作者服务艺术家,要么做一个艺术家,这种挣扎一直持续到2011年。但其实最后也没有结果,我往往一段时间集中创作,一段时间集中做项目,我的确对很多事情都感兴趣。


    刘丽芬:是的。2001年T咖啡(TCG诺地卡前身)也刚开始,她就问我是否感兴趣。我当时看T咖啡楼上楼下总共就120平米,我能做什么呢?毕业前我有半年在T咖啡,学怎么做西餐,怎么吃西餐,其实就是做了半年服务员。后来她很慎重地问我是否以后愿意留在诺地卡,当时想象不出来那样的工作是什么,对我来说就是一个服务员。那时T咖啡也在做苏新宏、栾小杰等艺术家的展览。但我对此没有太多概念,当时理解它就是一个咖啡馆的陪衬。我毕业之后就去旅行,考虑了三四个月是否要做这个工作。后来决定接受这个邀请,和她说定后的第三天她就回国了。我在诺地卡的工作就像一张白纸,一切从零开始。随后跟海伦·古德文(Helen Goodwin)、毛旭辉老师还有章水(Jonathan Kearney)共事的时候,他们教会了我很多很多,尤其是海伦,教我如何使用空间,像我的导师一样。





    刘丽芬:相反,并不是先有咖啡馆之后才有艺术。当时的943小组 其实是先有了画廊空间(2010年5月),一年之后我们才把商店这边的空间转让下来。当时商店主要是展示和销售一些设计师产品、绿色植物、小众出版物等创意产品,跟生活方式有关。直到2013年我才明确下来要有好的咖啡,因为一间画廊实际上需要有人们坐下来观画的环境,尤其在昆明。









    刘丽芬:我觉得挪威艺术家西蒙(Simon Torssell Lerin )和贝蒂娜(Bettina Hvidevold Hystad)在翠湖的活动挺好。那是2010年夏天和孩子们的绘画互动以及和翠湖公园每天唱歌跳舞的老先生老太太们的音乐表演合作。从这个项目我们才知道原来在翠湖唱歌跳舞是需要预定场地的,老先生老太太自发形成了很多小规则。那次合作结束之后,老人们提出要请他们吃饭,至少是吃过桥米线,三十多人,一顿花销六百多。你会发现他们每个人的背景也特别有意思,特殊技工、花灯团团长、厂里的领导等,高手隐居在民间的感觉。




























    刘丽芬:很多艺术家也不管不顾。一方面网络上的“成功案例”给年轻艺术家一些所谓的模式。但另一方面每个空间情况不一, 都要亲身体验和经历的。














    二、 自己和自己说悄悄话:作为艺术家的刘丽芬


















    刘丽芬:彩色这批主要是2012至2013年间在苏黎世的时候画的,用的是当地大幅的水彩纸和液体丙烯。当时我在当地最大的一间花店兼职,作为交换,我工作室一直有一桌子奇花异草在绽放,鲜艳的色彩和屋外持续半年的漫天飞雪有些较劲。 这段时间感觉是在冬眠,只想画画。有时候在巨大空洞的工作室里就看着罂粟花绽放,那是一瞬间的事,很震撼。商店找到的矿物质颜料和特殊的液体丙烯很完美的记录了这些色彩,和早期用墨做底色的那些作品截然不一样。


    刘丽芬:非常有关系,自然给我的触动是非常强烈的。连续好几个月的早晨我在冰冷的海水里拍摄水和身体和阳光的关系,对着海画海浪波动的一根根线条。我每天去工作室要走一个小时的路,路上就看每家花园里的植物的细微变化,留意到一片落叶给你的感动,春天哪种花先开放……大自然的一点点变化我都会留意到,心情哗一下打开了。游走在漆黑的深夜里, 路灯下那些还挂在枝条上的树叶特别耀眼。大雪天路灯下真的有鹅毛大雪飘下来,一切都很神奇。


    刘丽芬:对,那和我最早去瑞典的经历有关。上学时能有机会出国,感恩邀请我的那个学校而送给他们的。圣经里提到“活水”,我想“活水”应该怎么表达呢,就画了一组五幅有蓝绿色水源的野地,它们可以随意组合,放哪里都可以。后来杨瀚松(Janeric Johanson)安排教堂每年夏天都挂这组画,组成十字的形式。


    有一段时间我在浴缸里造纸,把收集的陌生人头发揉合在纸浆里,每天只能做两张,做了好几个月,最后根据纸张肌理画小说里的那些情爱关系。有个夏天我和瑞士艺术家娜塔莉(Nathalie Bissig)在昆明拍了很多视频,我们互换男女角色的那种,有种雌雄同体的感觉。甚至有的时候觉得男性是比女性更需要被呵护的。我俩后来在瑞士也一起合作,但因为地域转换,两人情绪都比较低落。正好朋友送了一大捆画纸,我们涂鸦似的信手画男女关系和跟性有关的画面,画完后哈哈大笑。











    刘丽芬 :有段时间是在记录这种内在情绪,比如羽毛脱落的那些肖像,治愈效果显著,哈哈。我总有一份画画以外的工作,工作带给我的恐惧要更多些。不过我自救能力算还行,不喜欢掉在深渊的那种感觉 ,现在创作动机没有或很小。









  • Luo Fei: Liu Lifen’s dream and living world

    Liu Lifen’s dream and living world
    —- Dialogue between Luo Fei and Liu Lifen

    by Luo Fei

    Time: Feb 11, 2015
    Venue: TAI PROJECT Gallery, North Jindingshan Rd. Kunming

    I, Self-whisper: Liu Lifen as an artist

    1, Studying and Artistic growth

    Luo Fei: Did you major in traditional Chinese ink painting in your university period?

    Liu Lifen: Yes. I was study all subjects related to traditional Chinese ink painting, however, I don’t know how to paint traditional Chinese painting.
    Luo Fei: Your early painting works are obviously with Yunnan strong coloring technique and style, but you have totally broken away from it in recent years.

    Liu Lifen: Yes.

    Luo Fei: Most figures in your early works have a pointed face and a long neck.

    Liu Lifen: It was influenced by Modigliani. I was crazy about his painting when I was in the university and influenced quite a lot by his works in my graduation works. However, these graduation works have gone away from me. They are the first pot of gold in my life.

    Luo Fei: I have noticed that in your painting works from 2013, there are birds, crane and plant. And those birds all have up-looking eyes. I know in traditional Chinese ink painting, this kind of bird can also be found from Badashanren’s work. And that up-looking bird eyes stand for highly critical of society. Compared with it, yours are more aloof and proud, and look like sleepy. Were you thinking about Badashanren when you painted your works?

    Liu Lifen: At that time I studied the ravens in Badashanren’s work. The raven’s black color was so beautiful in my eyes. They looked like so concentrated and even holy. I also collected some stories about raven through Google.

    2, Image, color and material

    Luo Fei: You repeatedly use the image of crane in your paint, how does it come?

    Liu Lifen: Six years ago, a Swedish lady told me: pretty goose quill is used for writing, instead of being enjoyed. So I introspect and asked myself, and painted several portraits of falling feather. I collaborated with Shi Zhijie on “the Morning Mist” fashion show at that time, I imaged there should be mist above the wild land and there should be cranes. Then I started conversation with cranes, big or small, on my paper, or on the clothes.

    Luo Fei: I notice the image of snake on your paint of “Cryptic Fairy”.
    Liu Lifen: Sometimes a drop of improper color happened to drop down on the paper carelessly or that part of painting was not satisfied, I added something on it and went along with its potential, like when I taught kids how to draw, I encouraged them not to erase, but make the best out of the mistake. This is why the image of snake appeared in my paint.

    Luo Fei: And you recently got the image of butterfly in your paint.

    Liu Lifen: I’m quite interested in butterfly and other insect specimen. Last summer when I was in Stockholm I was bit by mosquito, and consequence of mosquito poison was unbelievable–my eye got terribly swollen and I couldn’t go out for a couple of day. Butterfly’s wings always bring a fantastic mystique. I once received a good-night greeting from a sister: may fairy fly over your bird’s twitter and fragrant dream. What beautiful words, only used by those with inner graceful elegance.

    Luo Fei: This recent group of paints all has strong color.

    Liu Lifen: The colored ones were all painted during 2012-2013 when I was in Zurich. I adopted local large size paper and liquid acrylic. I got a part-time job in the biggest florist shop of that city, and as exchanging, there was always a lot of beautiful flowers and nice plant covered a table in my studio, they were blossomed and colorful, full of vigour, seemed like dueled against outdoors never-ending whirling snow. I felt I was in hibernation during that time, wanted do nothing but painting. Sometimes I was just watching opium poppy flower blossoming in front of my eyes in that huge hollow studio. It was just happened in an instant and so exciting. I recorded those amazing colors with mineral pigment and special liquid acrylic which I could find in local shops. They are all perfect colors and totally different from my early works with black ink as grounding color.

    Luo Fei: Are your paints related to your experience of living in Sweden?

    Liu Lifen: Yes, very much. The nature or natural environment always strongly inspired me. Month by month, I continuously photographed the ocean water, my body and the sunshine, and relations between them in the morning, facing the sea and drawing lines of sea’s waving. Every morning I walked one hour to my studio, and I used to watch and seek any tiny changes of the plant in the garden, noticed how a falling leave was so impressive, what sort of flower blossomed in spring…… I was fond of those detailed changes in natural environment and they always released me in a sudden. When I was wandering in dark night, I found those withered leaves hang on the dried branches were dazzling in the streetlight. There were really snow flake falling down in streetlight during those snowing days. Everything was just amazing.

    Luo Fei: I have ever noticed one of your paint hang on the inside wall of a church in Malmo.

    Liu Lifen: Yes. That is about my memory and experience of first visiting to Sweden. I was so grateful to the school which offered me invitation and gave them as a gift. It was that school that provided me the opportunity of going abroad when I was still in the university. I know the term of “living water” in the Bible, and often wondered how I can illustrate this “living water” with my paint. Then I created this group of paint including 5 pieces about wild land with blue-green water source for them. And they can decide how to match and combine on their own. And later Janeric Johanson suggested the church to hang them in a cross shape every summer.

    Luo Fei: A lot of your paints are all paper-based.

    Liu Lifen: I created my painting periodically. I only paint when I have a complete period. When I make a creation in different place, I have to consider what I can do, and what I can bring home when time is up. I created some oil-painting as well but I didn’t enjoy them very much because they looked stiff and you have to modify continuously. But painting on paper is different. It is what it looked like from the beginning since you can’t modify it afterward, especially for those silk based painting I made lately. The silk is transparent and every single stroke is clearly visible. I also made a pile of oil, acrylic on canvas.
    There was a period of time I made paper in bathtub. I mixed the hairs collected from strangers with paper pulp and could make only two pieces per day. I kept making that sort of paper for a few months and then illustrated some love affairs relation adopted from novels on these paper based on the interesting texture of the paper. In one summer, I worked with Swiss artist Nathalie Bissig on plenty of videos producing. We interchanged our roles in the video scenarios, between man and woman, with an amazing feeling of androgynus. Sometimes we even thought man needs more care than woman does. We worked together again in Switzerland when I was there, but both of us were depressed because of transformed region. At that time, a friend of us gave us a big roll of paper, so we freely drew some paints about relationship between male and female, or something about sex, like graffiti, then we laughed and laughed……
    A lot of paper-based paints are actually not finished yet, because the time for these paintings was not enough. Some of them only have a beginning. On the contrary, some small size paintings are complete because they are easy to bring and then to be added or complemented. There are also some paints without a certain frame or definite figures. But they truly recorded my confusion and lost. Some of them are imaginary scenes. When I was alone I had a strong premonition that another one or two person was around me. I felt like someone was watched me silently, it was weird.

    3, Two dreams

    Luo Fei: I can feel loneness, struggle and a sense of alienation from your painting works. Are you trying to transform the image of plant or animal to yourself?

    Liu Lifen: For me, paint is just a diary, a graphic diary, a means I whisper to myself. So the date of paint is valuable. I’m still willing to go back to my inner world. I’m not interested in any present news but it doesn’t mean I shield myself. I’d like to preserve my heart.

    Luo Fei: Your paints directly reflect your own experience and your inner world.

    Liu Lifen: Each of my early paints reflects my inner prototype, a story, including my sense of distance from others, my status of self-enclosed, and my dreams. When I was a kid, I repeatedly had a same dream: in the broad-bean field, there was a little boy kept smiling to me with a straw on his ear, or held in his mouth. Another dream is weird too: I walked along the wall-foot of my home, a snake dropped down in front of me from nowhere, and escaped away immediately. These two dreams kept coming to me again and again, until when I was 18 or 19 years old. My memory about childhood is empty–I don’t know why. Perhaps I was not very healthy when I was young, or because of some other unknown reason.

    Luo Fei: Can it be understood as a sort of fear in your blood?

    Liu Lifen: I don’t know. The fear indeed exists more or less. But I enjoy very much the loneness when I grow up. I can happily have fun with myself, and then share with someone else if I want to. However I’m still not very clear whether this happiness is a sort of loneness or a fear.

    Luo Fei: You mentioned you feel there is someone watching you all the time. Can I understand your painting as a means by which you keep your eyes on yourself all the time?

    Liu Lifen: Yes, probably. I remember there is a sentence: the paint touched me so much, like a miracle, even though this touching only last for one second. Like for a patient, only patient knows where his /her pain spot is.

    Luo Fei: As an artist, do you think your art creation contributed a positive or negative reinforcement to your inner loneness, or fear?

    Liu Lifen: There was a period I tried to record this inner mood, those portraits about feather falling off, for example, and they really healed, ha-ha… I always have a job besides painting, and the job usually brings me more fear. Fortunately, I’m capable of self helping. I don’t like the feel of falling down into abyss, anyway. I don’t have any specific creation motivation right now, at least, not as strong as before.

    4, Covenant with rooftop

    Luo Fei: Do you have any idea or expectation about your coming solo exhibition?

    Liu Lifen: Hard to say. As I said in the beginning, when I curated or planned exhibition for others, I was always very clear about it. But to my own, I lost it or mess it up. I haven’t had very specific or clear plan for my painting work. I always follow my feels of painting, and just illustrate these feels.

    Luo Fei: You call the relocation of your studio during past years as the covenant with rooftop because every new roof lasted shortly. The artists always have to move, to seek an appropriate place for their studio, like a group of modern nomad. More specifically, the artists keep seeking a person or an object that is will to make a covenant with them. Therefore I understand the “Covenant with rooftop” is a covenant with open sky based on your ideal, is a seeking of some relation during your continuous floating, or an anticipation of some eternal relation. Whom or what do you think you make a covenant with? And what kind of covenant is it?

    Liu Lifen: Unexpectedly, my studios during past 10 years were all located on the roof floor or single-storey house. Without exception, they were all with sufficient sunshine. So, maybe I had a covenant with sunshine. Broadness and openness of the roof made me feel quite romantic, and quite solid.

    Luo Fei: Do you think your painting is kind?

    Liu Lifen: Depends on how you interpret them. Sometimes I thought the color was too beautiful and these beautiful colors weaken the motivation of the painting. Sometimes I stubbornly thought my paint was evil. I keep these I’m fond of and cut those I’m not as paper-cut or used for writing a letter. I stubbornly love some items only because they are pretty or because they are monumental. I believe each of them are worth to exist and valuable.