Art & Culture / Art / Culture

Artist Graham Fink talks collaborating with Ziggy Chen and finding balance in creativity

Inspired by the beguiling duality of both artistry and scenery, creative Graham Fink has teamed up with Shanghai fashion designer Ziggy Chen on Duets. Reconfiguring his own imagery to create a sense of continuity and power of identity, the collection’s visual identity “references dualities within people and places”. Having lived and worked in Shanghai for 7 years, Fink has now moved to London where his inspiration has evolved more. Explaining how the two artists draw great influence from their surroundings, it seems that they are most fixated upon the perceived duality and changing natures of the cities they’ve grown a part of. Exploring the dual aspects – the east and west, tradition and modernity, past and present – their collaboration evokes “our tendency for interchangeability based on external conditions and environments”.

Capturing this sense of duality succinctly in their work, the result is a thoughtful and expressive collaboration. With Fink’s multiple exposure images – which creates a complex layering effect – and Chen’s unisex designs, they exemplify their shared interest of “fusing history, memory and time into one single aesthetic vision”. Celebrating the nuances of individuality and community, the project will be on display at Rankin’s Annroy Gallery. Describing his great love for artistic innovation, Rankin told us that he loves “new and interesting ideas in all forms of art, and I’m a fan boy of anyone who is doing something new and doing it well – it’s safe to say that Graham Fink and Ziggy Chen have both of these quotas in the bag. It’s conceptually nuanced, visually fascinating and I’m really proud to have this work in my gallery!”

We caught up with the artist, Graham Fink, to find out how the collaboration came about, how he meshed so well with Ziggy Chen, and what it all means to him…

Where did your interest in the notion of duality begin, and how did you begin to introduce it in your work?

When opposites collide – there is often a big bang and an orgy of new ideas. I love the mess, excitement and chaos.

Why did you want to collaborate with Ziggy Chen, how does your work compliment each other?

I first discovered Ziggy’s clothes when I walked into his store in XinTianDi in Shanghai. I was immediately drawn to the designs as they had an industrial feel about them. I read up on him and was fascinated by his philosophy on duality and in deconstructing traditional ideas. I then contacted him and said I’d like to photograph his clothes – using duality as a kind of one word equity.  Having moved from the West to the East, I was interested in this coexistence of cultures.  We spent a lot of time talking about our creative practices and the idea of this particular shoot capturing a single aesthetic vision..

Fashion is becoming increasingly gender neutral, do you think that it is finally accepting of fluidity in all forms, and is that something that you want to continue to push?

The growth in unisex fashion follows more awareness around gender fluidity and what it means to not conform to the binary. With this increased equality; there is also a new sense of freedom – I’m interested in how this translates to imagery. 

How much does location influence your work, you’ve lived in both China and London?

Very much so. China tends to look at things in a very literal way, yet there is often a poetic layer.  It’s a pressure cooker for change – and this excitement and anxiety often results in my work having a temporal dimension to it.

Can you talk us through how this project began, and the processes involved in it?

I had one long shoot day which was mainly experimental and I tried a lot of things. But I always had this idea of projection at the back of my mind. On the second day I focused solely on this. The final work was achieved by photographing men and women wearing the clothes and then projecting those images back onto the opposite sex and reshooting them.

With duality, how much do you concentrate on contrast versus similarity? How do you find the balance?

Good cannot exist with evil, light cannot exist without darkness. Like Yin and Yang, they rely on each other to create a perfectly balanced whole. So although there is a duality there is also an absolute. What interested me was finding the balance as I worked – moving a model’s head, a fraction of an inch, this way or that, completely changed the aesthetic and meaning.

Rankin presents Graham Fink: Duets this Thursday 19th July at Annroy Gallery.

18 July 2018

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