Artfinder Meets: Ping Zheng

by Poppy Rooney

In the last of this week's 'Artfinder Meets' grad editions, we spoke to New York-based, Ping Zheng who has recently graduated with an MFA in Painting from RISD in Providence. Interpreting her childhood, emotions and personal life through nature's wondrous forms, Ping has a bright and enigmatic painting style that is reflective of her eclectic life so far.

We found out what Ping had to say…

On becoming an artist

“I didn't know what the word “artist” meant until I learnt to write my name in Chinese calligraphy. Until I was in Grade 3 at primary school, I just enjoyed being creative by drawing and painting in my text books, on my erasers and on my classroom desk. Unfortunately I always found that my school teachers and family despised art and were against me taking art classes as a student. At that stage I never dared to think I could keep on painting and drawing...until I was expelled from middle school.

After that I just travelled and visited lots of big cities and worked in many different studios. Then I reached the age of 18 and decided to study abroad in London. This was the moment that I thought, ‘This is it - I’m going to be an artist!’ When I moved I felt stronger and stronger about art and more confident to pursue a career as a painter. I was fascinated by western art and embraced the opportunity to discover that art whilst living there. Art seems to be more encouraged in the West, as an expression of creativity and individualism. I am a painter and feel free and excited by the fact that I can truly be myself. I now use my practice to explore and express the emotions that were blocked in my childhood.”

'Untitled 2’

On being an artist

“Being an artist means that the real Ping has existed, who has a mind and a soul to communicate to the outside world. Now the more I paint and the more I feel alive and understand myself better, I sense that I am an autobiographical artist that who conveys freedom of mind, appreciating aesthetic nature, beauty and life.”

'Starry Night’
'Untitled 6’

On the studio

“When I was studying I used the school studios at RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) to paint. Now that I have graduated I am focusing on remaining to paint and draw by applying for residencies.”

Ping’s drawings on her studio floor, made using oil bars and pencils on paper

Ping’s studio in Providence, this picture was taken in summer 2015

On inspiration

“The environment is my main inspiration, I love all aspects of nature and going out to really see natural landscapes. My biggest inspiration is my sister in England. She has influenced me since I met her at my old library in London in 2009. She was the first person that really made me consider my childhood.”

'Untitled 5’

On challenges

“I don’t aim to directly reference the Chinese or any other society or culture. I don’t include any human figures in my paintings. My work is about my personal life and emotions. I use nature to symbolise my appreciation of freedom and my understanding of humanity.

My challenge is to really consider how my art can be clearer or closer to people's visual feelings.

I always want to challenge myself and try new techniques and mediums. My paintings are very much about the act of painting, but I also enjoy the process of making so I like making monoprints. I draw or walk in the park to get new ideas for my paintings.”

'Untitled 4’

On other artists

“There are quite a lot of contemporary artists who have inspired me in many different ways, particularly Tom Noskowski, Clint Jukkala, and Ken Price.”

'Echo River’ by Ping Zheng

On role models

“My artistic role model is my dear sister from England. I feel like she guides me to be a better painter. My father also inspires me to be a good and responsible person in life.”

On life

“I live in New York at the moment. For me experiencing Western culture is truly lighting up my life, and it continuously arouses my interest to express my thought through painting.

'Untitled 8’ by Ping Zheng

On Artfinder

“I am excited to sell on Artfinder! It is a great platform and marketplace, it has helped me to expose my paintings online. I love the idea of sharing my works!”

On the future

“I have just participated in a Thesis show at Nancy Margolis Gallery in New York with nine other RISD painting MFA graduates. I also plan to have some shows later on this year.

I think of my art as a mark of this era, or as at least a reflection of my generation. I am one of few young Chinese artists who has a chance to use and create art in contemporary ways and apply it as a language to communicate to global society.

In my future, my biggest dream is to show my Chinese landscapes to my sister from England, she loves nature so much. Art is the only intimate thing I have and I want to achieve my dream. If I was unable to introduce China through my work, to my friends who have helped and encouraged me, then nothing would ever make me truly happy.”

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