DIESEL ART GALLERY presents the first solo exhibition of young Chinese Artist Ling Meng from Shanghai, China.
The exhibition “ Specimens of Time” features his entire collection of all the nature elements such as plants, flower, ore, and soil by his unique way of sampling to preserve “the moment” permanently.
Such beautiful and fragile artworks that elegantly portraited by Ling Meng leave you a fascination.
In this exhibition, on top of his previous typography and graphic design works, various specimens in mixed media and installation piece will be shown.
“The miscellaneous world can be expressed in a simple way, even the time can be saved.”
In a holiday, I went to12 different style flower and bird markets, my initial idea was finding costly something special, but later, I found out that the nature itself is much more magic a lot than what we thought of. Almost everyone usually seemingly ordinary, simple things , no matter it is a small flower named “lace”, or the crushed coral used to place in the tank, which are many unexpected and surprising new discoveries. Nature are made by time and the time can be saved in specimens.
Plants always fascinate people. They feed us, clothe us and are indispensable as medicines...These are only small parts of thousands of plants in China. I spend the whole journey on collecting them. My first collection was a piece of leaf which was bit to a lot of pinholes by insects. The first impression they gave me was, contrary, a kind of special beauty and fineness, incomplete but intact, rather than lifelessness causing by insects biting. What else attracts me is these plants are not as weak as we think; they survive well in a stern nature. From the moment of being specimens, they get rid of the fate of birth, age, illness and death and along with the fadeless time, retained completely, then become the best souvenir of the time.
--Please introduce yourself.
I am Ling and I am a natural history artist from China, living with my two cats, one black and one white in Shanghai. What I am trying to focus on recently, is combing Art and Science somehow.
--Soil carpet installation is very original and has been attracting a great deal of attention. How did you come up this idea?
My hometown is Guiyang, which is the capital city of Guizhou Province where have many mountains around. There are lots of different kinds of soils and sands with various of colors, red, brown, yellow, dark, white etc. Even one small area has many different color soils together. When you look at it from far distance, it really looks like the natural carpet designed by the mother Nature. I don’t have chance to travel around the whole world right now, but I do believe there must be hundreds and thousands of different color soils in the world around. I heard that some people in Africa use coffee dregs to put into the soils to cultivate the plants. So the soil is very dark but loosen. It is very interesting that put these nature color soils into designed patterns, combing the science and nature elements.
--Your creation is quite varied in media such as design, photography, sculpture, installation, and specimens, but we find the consistency among them. Is there any concept that you consciously make them consistent?
For myself, I’d like to try new things so I am loving to try different medias. Every media has it own distinguishing features and attributes which can inspire me different ideas. For my works, the most important thing is the thoughts or ideas that I want to express, so I am not very worried about the medias. After I had a idea, than I choose the most suitable media I considered to start to create it. For human’s life, aren’t we always living for trying the new things from our birth to death, are we?
--You have studied computer science at university, How did you become an Artist afterwards?
I was good at my school work. But after 2 year working as a program developer, I found I was tired of thinking in a mathematic way. I am interesting in art when I was very young, liking drawing and painting very much at that time. More and more, I feel I am more suitable doing art and design related works because I feel very happy and satisfied.
--You have been trying to combine art and science. What is the starting point of the idea?
I have many designer friends and artist friends. Most of them studied art in school. I found when I design something or did some art projects my method or way of thinking are quite different from them. So I found it is very interesting that combing the art and science. And I am loving biology , chemistry, archeology and astronomy other sciences. I was thinking that “ Maybe I can try bring my science background into my art cerataion”, it is quite different other artists and can be very interesting.
--Please explain the current contemporary Chinese art scene as one of young creative in China.
Chinese contemporary art market grows very fast in china. But many of art works seem to be made only for marketing sales. As a young artist, the market range somehow are quite small. Many of young artist hardly can live with their art at the beginning. As the Chinese school fundamental education lacks of the good education of arts in a very long period, so the whole public people seem quite conservative to the contemporary art, people do not know how to understand the meaning of works or how to appreciated them , say nothing to spend the money to collect them.
--Any artist you respect?
Many of them I respect. Lucie Rie, Mc Escher, Damien Hirst, Ouyang Xiu, Karl Blossfeldt, Yohji Yamamoto, Hayao Miyazaki, Issey Miyake, etc.
--We see that you make your own accessories, seem like you are very acquainted with fashion as well. Any specific fashion brand you like? or any style you like?
Yes, many of them I like, Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, Maison Martin Margiela, Alexander McQeen, Damir Doma, Heidi Slimane. I don’t know how to define which style I like most, maybe neutral one.
--Anything you collect? stationaries or any other things?
I like books very much. I have 3000 books in my apartment. And I like collecting plant specimens, insect specimens and ore specimens, over 500 different kinds of each of them.
--We hear that you read Japanese books as well. What kind of genre of books do you read? and what made you interested in these?
I bought japanese design magazines like “idea” and ceramic magazine “Fire Art” and many other japan artist and designer’s books. And many are about plants and mineral , natural science related books. I found Japan has many of good books about plants and other natural science books.
--Any book or movie that influenced you somehow?
I am reading the book I bought from japan this time, is talking about the different style nets of the spiders. Very interesting. Actually, few people can recognize the tiny things in the daily life. Many of the tininess has been missed. But I found Japanese people are good at finding the tininess beautify in the daily life. I have been influencing by it very much.
--It was your first trip to Japan, how did you spent everyday during your stay in Tokyo?
Most of days I was working with my Curator Ms. Kimiko, interns and production company stuffs, preparing the exhibition and installing the art works. And I looked around this city a little bit after work.
--Any place or things that made you impress?
Tokyo is very very clean and people are very polite and friendly. I went to the Tokyo tower and the Ghibli Museum by Miyazaki san. Very interesting and beautiful museum. I knew his animation film “Neighbour Totoro” around 20 years ago, Now I finally came in Tokyo and visited the museum. I feel very happy and I like this city very much.
--Anything you would like to challenge in near future? or please tell us your upcoming projects.
I am planing to make a small book. It is about plants and mathematics. I started it a few years ago, but paused. Now I’d like to restart it.
--Please send some messages to audience who are planning to come to the exhibition?
I really wish the more and more Japanese audience can come to have a look of my exhibition, specially who are interested in plants and other natural elements. Wish you can enjoy a piece of peaceful moment. It could become a special and peaceful time specimens in your lifetime.