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Wang Jiang in Conversation with Chen Dongfan: In New York,or China

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Wang Jiang: Close to Halloween, right?

Chen Dongfan: C: That’s right, I still remember the scene. The thick, mischievous draw of windows through Williamsburg, Brooklyn; people on the streets dressed up as all kinds of zombies, ghosts and ghouls; Inna and myself dragging our luggage through the thick of it all. It was in the midst of such an unusual atmosphere we began our life in New York City. 

Wang Jiang: This reminds me of a famous line from A Native of Beijing in New York: “If you love him, then send him to New York, it’s heaven there; and if you hate him, then send him to New York, it’s hell.”

Chen Dongfan: That’s it precisely. I’ve found New York most fascinating ever since. It’s a place where dreams accrue; alluring but at the same time indecipherable, even somewhat cruel in places. 

Wang Jiang: What were you doing before you went to New York? 

Chen Dongfan: I graduated from the China Academy of Art in 2008 filled with ideals about what it was I wanted to do. Within three months I was fortunate enough to bump into Inna who was making preparations to open the gallery at the time. In the four years after I continued with the Inna Art Space as an exhibiting artist, two of those wherein I also functioned as creative director for the space. That brings us to 2014, prior to my leaving Hangzhou and when I finished working at the gallery. The seven years I spent working in Hangzhou were very happy and allowed me - with art as a premise - to mix with a vast number of artists, designers, musicians, film-makers and academic friends. All of them continue to make outstanding contributions in their
various fields. 

Wang Jiang: If I’m not mistaken there still weren’t all that many galleries in Hangzhou at that time. In my personal understanding there are a great many exceptional young artists in Hangzhou, yet the state of the industry there still isn’t quite what it ought to be. 

Chen Dongfan: That’s right. A lot of artists graduating from the CCA (China Academy of Art, Hangzhou) relocate to Beijing or Shanghai. But there are also many that choose to remain in Hangzhou who are also working in really great ways, finding for the stepping stones toward realizing their respective ideals. Prior to my leaving for New York I learned a lot by way of my work, things which inevitably influenced and nourished this. From having made art in public space throughout my twenties, at thirty I returned to the studio to focus on my practice in earnest, two years after which I went to New York.