Dialogue between Monica Dematté and Xie Qi
Edited by: Xie Qi
Lao Mo (Monica Dematté), a well-known character in China, lives in a not so well-known village of North Italy – Vigolo Vattaro.
During the few weeks of my stay there, we watered the plants, mowed the lawn, climbed mountains and sang songs… but never did we mention anything about art, even less about my exhibition. We purposely didn’t even try to deepen the understanding of each other. Most of the time was spent walking in silence and waiting for rain to stop, which never lasts long enough. I know that at that time, the similarity of our personalities was sometimes blocking our communication.
The day before my departure, the will to acquire mutual recognition let us roll away the beautiful memories of our sightseeing and farming, and finally begin our talk about art.
Scenery of face
X: Some of these are self portraits.
M: Can not tell…
X: They are, face sceneries, views of emotion.
M: What has driven you to make these paintings? Emotion?
X: Yes. This facial expression was done when I was very emotional, anxious and upset. The strength given by stability was missing during that part of my life. But the whole process of painting was completed in a relatively peaceful and ordered way, and I searched for a relation again and again.
M: What kind of relation?
X: The relation between color and emotion.
M: I can tell that you are very interested in color.
X: Yes, and I find that horny people are all very sensitive to color.
M: Are they? Er, I didn’t know about this. I feel that it is not very easy to get into your painting. You applied many layers and they are of large scale. It makes it difficult to identify them.
X: It is kind of a game; you need to spend time in front of them. Viewers may get to know them after finishing their cup of tea.
M: Did you try to be special when you were painting?
X: Yes, that was once in my mind but didn’t stay for long. It was like when we are climbing mountains, we constantly look for gaps between stones to step on. This repeating action always makes me feel passive and uneasy. It is not what I like, I like simply going forward and looking ahead.
Stories of others
M: Do you ever try using other people’s story to express yourself and avoid pushing yourself to the front? And sometimes you get into other people’s story by doing so?
X: Dramatic things cannot happen to me. Stories have their own hero. The frequency of events happening in my life is very low. Due to the limits of my personality, the things that happened in my life can always be diluted. Actually, I don’t really care about what really happened.
M: What do you think is the most interesting part in your life?
X: My feelings, maybe. Some people may have experienced a lot but never did they think out of the box and ponder. For me, what I saw, heard, dreamed of and felt are part of the experience. I may feel deeper the story of someone else than the person concerned.
M: What do you expect the most to happen in your life?
X: An encounter or happy things, etc..
M: No big wishes?
X: I never think hard on this. Life will bring them on.
M: Don’t you ever feel unhappy that time flies away and you haven’t done anything? Are you always so calm?
X: I’m not calm, never have been. I just don’t like to show it. Tranquility is as embarrassing as the vision of garbage spreading randomly outside.
M: What is the reason of this restlessness?
X: Maybe too much desire and complication. I don’t have the ability to communicate and reach out.
M: Have you thought of letting some desires go?
X: I simply don’t want to be that restful. The status of being restless is quite interesting.
M: You calm yourself down when things are restless, and you get bored when things around you are too quiet.
X: We can put it this way: life is quiet but the self is not.
M: What did you want to get when you came here?
X: Never thought about it concretely. Maybe because here it is a totally strange place to me, and I don’t speak the language. It is a trip without a specific goal. You being here is a turning point for me, otherwise I wouldn’t have considered coming. I enjoy making plans, but almost all my decisions are made in hurry and quite randomly.
M: Take what comes.
X: Anyway, we will encounter different things and this is enough.
M: Those cute boys aren’t made for this trip.
X: Yep. They are on bike or motorcycle and never stop for a while. Those who do stop are already middle aged and got fat.
M: Hah, yes, they are.
Landscape of the body
M: Let’s move on to your body series.
X: I like putting bodies in a home atmosphere, which includes randomly displayed underwear. It’s not like those pure, exaggerated, narcissistic bodies with squeezed out expressions; it is more like randomly picked bodies, also randomly displayed in a daily setting. They are in their solo dance. Lashed and disturbed by speckles of various kinds, they have endowed themselves with an affected sense of drama.
I like working on ordinary material, things as dull as daily life.
M: Why do you still have such important relationship with your parents, although you have been away from home for so long?
X: There are not so many important things in my life, not so many people either. The importance of somebody gets lost in time. I’m obsessed with their age. They are complicated enough, discomfited and they enjoy the happiness of their own. The body series gives expression to daytime – the male, and nighttime – the female. But the age has neutralized the influence of gender and reflects the up and down of power and its evolution.
M: Is light important to you?
X: Yes, light has tricks and does it please or not, cannot be ignored.
People living outside of my life
M: How big is this?
X: 190×150cm, as big as a double bed. It is a deserted bed board. This is a beggar on the bridge, whom I pass by everyday.
M: Have you taken any pictures?
X: Yes. One day I paid her some money to take a picture of her. She knows nothing about taking pictures because she never took one. She has a small face and you can’t tell her age. You can’t tell if she is slow or what. Very polite woman, hometown must be in the north, maybe right in Beijing. The reason why she caught my eyes was her outfit. Yellow hat, green soldier suit, red shoes, such a good combination of colors. She put a Chinese jar next to her, and didn’t beg. She always looked down from the bridge when she woke up.
I’ve heard one saying – “Con Artist”, liar, beggar, night owl, cross-dresser… They actively use their wisdom (or simply take off the responsibility of a role), and increase the variety of society beside the restraint of order and moral.
M: What do you want to get from painting them?
X: Power, strengthen by soul. With the help of this power, I can get rid of some of the appeals of the outside world.
M: It seems that you are very interested in expressions. You enjoy observing others expressions.
X: Basically I find every face and every expression interesting.
M: Are you trying to make them see what they never thought of seeing by your creation?
X: Actually I don’t want to know what they are thinking by observing their expression. I have no intention. I very often just stare blankly. However, appearance and expressions are a such generous soil which automatically feeds our hungry root and they are like the film playing in the background, murmuring, but not eager to tell you anything.
M: Is this your self-portrait?
X: Maybe. This is a special friend, who makes a living in fashion, cures the self by cross-dressing every Tuesday. He is 180cm, wears a huge wig, and stands on high heels of 20cm, a giant from Aladdin. During his performance, those evil nasty words interweave with his heart breaking Big Art. Perhaps it was the connection between us two, we easily became friends. His pure desire, obsession to be extremely controversial in life, strong self expression and his black tears all over his face… everything of him excites me and lead to my series “ The Queen Fan”.
(Before I finishing sort out the conversations we heard the tragic news that she past away…my muse, is it just some sort of joke of yours? Now those pictures were so lonely and depressed…we only can see the shine, but can’t see the shadow.)
M: Why did you start drawing those small pictures?
X: Small size pictures and cheap productions can make me survive the economical depression.
M: What is it about?
X: Sex and depression.
M: Do you think that the Chinese audience and buyers can really accept that kind of stuff?
X: They couldn’t resist!
M: Maybe you could make it a little bit simpler so they could understand a little bit better.
X: But I think the simplicity should come forward naturally, I’m not in a hurry at all. I like it that way, I will always rather put my ideas at the first place and release them.
M: I agree with you, what I mean is that you are still waiting, but waiting is a long process.
X: Artworks should have hesitation, narrow ways and torture, but I love the way I’ve been tortured and I believe in keeping it real. It’s just what human should do..
M: No matter what people you meet, or what happens in your life, it should be all in your possibilities; if there is anything out of your possibility, it’s just none of your business.
X: The fact you don’t have to worry about all kinds of problems is pretty interesting, -you like your life to be clean and all you have to do is just trying to subtract things?
X: But you don’t really look like you’ve been subtracting, you look pretty fancy though..
M: No I ‘m not! I think spiritual things are more important.
X: What kind of art do you really care about?
M: None, I do not care about any kind of art.
X: Then what do you care about?
M: I care about humankind…I am not a psychologist, what is inside is too painful to watch, I just want to learn more about the meaning of our lives.
X: I am a contradictory person; still I do not want to fall into the traps of our lives.
M: I’m always talking about subtraction, I’m still very curious, I do not want to leave anything behind, I like to enjoy every possibilities of my life.
X: So you do not want to put yourself under the bright light?
M: I’m just trying to express myself through other people.
X: I express myself by painting their portrait.
Monica put herself in the background during the conversation, but to be cautious, I don’t want it to be very “excited”, but I browned my skin and having a great adventure back there; walking on a very dark road under the moonshine, chewing chocolate on a altitude of 2430meteres, listening to the Dante’s inferno for 2hours (I didn’t fall asleep, but I don't understand any of it…）．