Compromise brought contemporary artist Lin Fei Fei from China to Sacramento two and a half years ago. She and her husband “met halfway” while trying to decide on where to settle and call home, figuring that California split the distance between her husband’s hometown of Detroit and hers of Da Lian, China.
Fei, 30, remembers creating art from the young age of when she could first pick up a brush. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in oil painting from Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang. In 2016, the Beijing-based Wang Shikuo Art Foundation named her one of 10 “Contemporary Chinese Artists of the Future.” Fei uses a variety of mediums, but has an affinity for large-scale oil paintings. Her abstract realism shows an appreciation of bodies and human figures.
Despite calling Sacramento home, Fei remains active in art shows around the globe, with exhibitions in Oslo, Italy, China, Korea and the U.S. over the past year. Fei has also been busy in the Capital Region, notably exhibiting her 24 Solar Terms papercut project at ArtStreet in 2017. Fei is currently getting her new Midtown art studio ready for an opening in late May. Comstock’s caught up with Fei during the renovation to discuss how she’s working to foster international relationships in the local art community.
You’ve described your art as a bit dark. What inspires your work?
I never really question myself — why I paint dark stuff — but my personality is pretty positive. I’m always happy and have a lot of energy. But every time I look back to my work, I just want to think about something deep. Something under the surface.
I’m really influenced by Francis Bacon … Franz Bacon is one of the most influential artists in the world, and for my work. He paints darkness and shows humanity and the struggle of ‘us’ … So I’m always trying to come back to myself and humanity. That’s why I paint a lot of darkness, I think. I’m just so attracted by that. Happy is good, everybody is trying to be happy. But every time I hear a story of sadness, or something happens to me or my family or my friends, [that] always inspires me to paint.
What do you think the Sacramento community is doing well in terms of supporting creatives?
I moved here two and a half years ago; I didn’t know a lot of information for art scene in Sacramento. I did a lot of research and tried to reach out to art communities and opportunities and showcases. I tried to bring different art and culture from Sacramento to China, and already now three or four international shows — [bringing] Sacramento artists there or Chinese artists here. I think the Sacramento art scene is not like San Francisco or Los Angeles. But there are so many potential artists here, and so active, and so down to earth.
Here the community [is] so tight and close and supportive to each other … You know the project I do at ArtStreet? Literally, I had 50 people who came to my booth and helped me just for nothing. I was so touched. It was so lovely. It was really so nice. That’s why I fall in love with the community here.
You’ve had shows in big cities all over the globe. So you have a lot of perspective on what other communities do right. What do you think Sacramento could do better?
That’s a tough question to answer! The community here is really tight. I heard from other artists [that] it is more active than before. I hope Sacramento art community is more open to outsiders, bringing more artists from different cities or countries. Here, I feel like people are happy with what they are doing right now … You know, it’s like people are so satisfied here. But they should bring more international art or art shows here. Bring more different directions to Sacramento. I think it would be better … It’s the capital of California, but I don’t feel like its very international or very open. For sure, we have Jeff Koons or some artists from New York, but don’t have a lot of international artists or art shows.
What are your upcoming shows?
I think probably the next show in Sacramento is going to be my opening studio. I’m going to have my studio open to the public … I got a lot of fans. They really want to see my work in person, so I think that time is going to be a good opportunity. The next show in Shanghai is at the end of October. I also have a show in Germany, in August.
Also, I am curating a show called 3CM, a microart show. The first stop it showed in Nanjing. I brought about 11 Sacramento artists tiny works and shipped to Nanjing. The second stop is actually showing right now in Beijing. The next stop going to be Sacramento. Me and Robert-Jean Ray going to curate this show at Sparrow Art Gallery. It is Oct. 13. It has Sacramento artist, Chinese artist, European artist … It’s easy to ship, and limited artist to create something smaller than 3 centimeters. There are hundreds of pieces and over 100 artists. The work is so tiny!
So you’re working to start international art exchange?
I’m not only being an artist, I’m trying to bring artists and culture together. This is my passion. I think Sacramento going to be a really good base … That’s what I’m trying to do, bring culture and art together. In the past two years, I curate East Meets West International show in Jolie Gallery Shenyang, China and also the Borderless Contemporary Art Show in Shimo Center for the Arts, Sacramento. … I don’t want to be a curator, but I want to help out.
When you need to get out of the studio, where do you like to go?
Definitely bars! [laughs] We go to Elixir. There are a lot of musicians and artists there and they always serve strong drinks for cheap. We love it.
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