Bringing Chinese Art to the World: Interview with Jared FitzGerald

Culture Trip

Gallerist Jared FitzGerald of New York’s FitzGerald Fine Arts has devoted his career to the promotion of both contemporary and classical Chinese art. We talk to him ahead of the upcoming Masterpiece London art fair about the incredible work coming out of the contemporary Chinese art scene and what he’s looking forward to at Masterpiece.

Zhang Guojun, Beyond Mountains Series, 2013, 9 Porcelain Panels, 175 x 34 cm each / Courtesy of FitzGerald Fine Arts

Q: Can you give our readers some background on the history of FitzGerald Fine Arts and your involvement in it?

A: I officially established the gallery FFA in 2008. I travelled to China in 2007 and in seeing the interesting art forms I was inspired to move to Beijing. In Beijing I continued looking at artists’ artwork and traveling to different cities and provinces.

While in the United States I had found that the art world was beginning to be interested in contemporary Chinese art that related to modern western ways of making art; such as conceptual art and social-political commentary.

In China I found artists that were interested in using traditional Chinese forms and materials but in new and unexpected modern ways.

Jared FitzGerald

Q: What inspired your interest in Chinese Art generally and porcelain and ink painting in particular?

A: The beauty of the historical craftsmanship and the current enthusiasm of the contemporary artists to develop new imagery. The ink painting and the porcelain painting share a common method where the artists’ direct handling of the media is most important.

Q: Who are the contemporary Chinese artists our readers should know about?

A: Gan DaoFu is an important artist whose masterful use of the brush and also his invented tools to paint on porcelain elevates the beauty of the blue and inspires him to make very inventive images.

Also Mansheng Wang is important because his scholarly knowledge, his practice of calligraphy and his trips in China to Dunhuang to study the cave painting have deeply inspired his life and artwork.

Zhou Rong is a young gifted artist, whose writing about the subjects that inspire her artwork is fascinating to read and illuminates the work itself. She shows great promise.
Q: How are the traditions of Chinese porcelain and ink painting being preserved or updated in the contemporary art scene?

A: Porcelain painting pigments and glazes are always being modified to result in new interesting colours and glazes that have a more jade-like translucency.

Ink painting uses the traditional support for the ink, whether it’s paper or silk, but contemporary artists use the calligraphy and direct painting as a personal sign that shows the artist’s personality. This can be even extended to painting directly in ink on the person themselves.

Mansheng Wang, Snowing Night, 2007, Ink and Colour on Cardboard, 32.4 cm, 2007 / Courtesy of FitzGerald Fine Arts

Q: How do you feel the contemporary art scene in China is developing? Both in terms of the local artists, and the art market?

A: Today the Chinese artists are supported by groups of other artists that congregate to share their ideas and practices. Finding studio space is always a challenge. Also the family traditions and the government traditions are continually being re-assessed. The artists’ artistic methods are always being considered by the Chinese public.

Gan Daofu, Love of Clouds, Jingdezhen Porcelain, 80 x 22 cm, 2013 / Courtesy of FitzGerald Fine Arts

Q: Is there a growing interest in Chinese Art in the West? How do figures like Ai Weiwei contribute to this interest?

A: Yes I believe that there has been in the last twenty five years an ever growing interest and cultural curiosity in the West about Chinese contemporary artwork. The support from Western museums, galleries and Chinese and European auction houses has elevated the financial importance of artwork that is made in China.

Ai Weiwei has become a cross-cultural voice that reaches across the globe. He admonishes aspects of the Chinese government and also encourages artists to speak about their artistic freedoms. The collective artistic and intellectual Chinese message is more important to China than Ai Weiwei’s personal message to China.

Q: What attracts you to the Masterpiece Art Fair?

A: Participating in the Masterpiece Art Fair is a very great opportunity to present to the public new Chinese artwork. The artwork that is now being produced throughout China exemplifies the importance of this culture’s technical assurance; and with the artist’s originality and inventiveness it will be memorable for those visiting Masterpiece.

Q: What are you particularly excited about seeing at Masterpiece?

A: Masterpiece always has a great selection of galleries to view. I am especially interested in seeing the Tomasso Brothers Fine Art gallery, (C2), where the marble sculptures, the Lion and the Horse and the Lion and the Bull will be exciting to see. The artwork that they exhibit is always of the finest quality.

Also Michael Goedhuis, (B5) always has great artwork and I am particularly interested in seeing the paintings of Yao Jui-Chung. The colour of the green in the landscape in combination with the gold will be exciting to see.

At Didier LTD, (A15), I want to have a close look at the Louis Osman bangle made of silver and turquoise. I have a residence near Santa Fe, New Mexico, so to see the silver work and the colour of the turquoise is always of interest to me.

Mansheng Wang, White Lotus I, Ink and Color on Paper, 69.9 x 69.9 cm, 2013 / Courtesy of FitzGerald Fine Arts

Q: What does the future hold for FitzGerald Fine Arts?

A: I feel that FitzGerald Fine Arts has a very promising future. With the great artistic talent in China and the expansion of the gallery showing some international artists, I feel the gallery will continue to develop and be a place where the public and clients will be surprised and satisfied.
Fitzgerald Fine Arts will be exhibiting at Masterpiece London 2015, 24th June to 1st July, The Royal Hospital Chelsea.

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