PaperCity Magazine

September 2016 - Houston

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and I burned them or put a nail through them. But basically it's paint. Internally, I'm paint. This is part of the soul. So that's why my external is always joking, even superficial, flashy. But internally, I'm paint … I mourned my father throughout my life. Which is not very healthy, but may be good for the painting. Changing the paradigm: Mr. Chow to now. I just wanted respect from the West. I wanted the West to understand my culture. So I created a new world for myself, because I lost it all. My shock was so great. I suffered from asthma. And asthma is so uncomfortable. You can't express the feeling in words. Not just that you can't breath, it's uncomfortable 24/7. I had this wonderful suffering childhood. And when I was just about to recover, at 12 years old, they put me in the middle of Harry Potter ... Dickens' England. This is after the war — foggy London, rationing, nothing to eat. There is nothing familiar there. No text. I didn't write to my father, I didn't communicate. That experience fucked me up completely. But it's all this good stuff for being an artist. Greek tragedy. But I'm here [now], and so lucky to be able to paint. I am the luckiest man alive. Your studios and the grand plan. I'm building 60,000 square feet in Vernon [California, outside L.A.]. It is going to be a compound; a lot of creative activity. Talks. My work, other people's work. It's going to be a creative center. An environment. Paul McCarthy and all these artists are near me, in this industrial area, very close to the Broad Museum. Did you see True Detective Season 2? It's in Vernon. Incredible architecture. Bowed trusses, 360-degree windows. Originally, the railroad came through, and there was a slaughter house. I'm putting together four buildings: my version of the Factory, and Jeff Koons' studio. Julian Schnabel has an incredible place. So I do my thing. Up next in your painting. Right now, for the next year, I will stay with the Pacific Vortex series. I eliminated a lot of Top left: Tools of the painter's very physical process. Above, top: Sheets of gold and silver made for Chow by a jeweler. Above: A spray of paint on the studio wall. ingredients already. I moved on. I still kept the egg. The egg yolk gives the scale and also becomes like the sun. So I mummify it. I put a thousand coats of varnish on it. So it has a crest, and inside it is still wet. It will take another 100 years to dry, maybe longer. The egg yolk is very sexy. The idea of birth and all that shit. It gives a scale. They're all landscapes of some sort. On the return to your birthplace, Shanghai. China was very emotional. They were celebrating my father's 120th birthday, and they had two weeks of celebrations and performances. My show was on at the same time. And I love Peking Opera. The whole thing was great. A lot of performance, every night. And 16 volumes on my father came out. And a theater named after him. Now I can't read and write [Chinese] properly. But I remembered how to speak in Chinese although my speaking wasn't that great. It was a fantastic experience. Dismantling prejudice. In my opinion, there is so much disconnect between China in particular and the West. Still. Almost like African-Americans … Still improving, but grinding. Or women's rights. To me, the most derogatory word is Chinaman. Chinaman is equal to calling an African- American a nigger. Same thing. Yet the Chinese population is not aware of it. You've heard this thing called a Chinaman's chance? You know why? When they were building the railroad in the 19th century, in the mountains sometimes there was gas. They couldn't use explosives when there was gas present, so they had to test for it. So they sent a rat down the hole. If the rat died, they knew there was gas. Sometimes they couldn't find a rat, so they sent the Chinese guy. So the word Chinaman is horrible to me. Just like you call someone Jap or Chink or nigger. Therefore, instead of calling it Chinatown, it should be Chinese Town. That becomes a symbol of change. Anyway, I did my best promoting [Chinese culture]. Mr. Chow started as the low of low; outside China, there is no restaurant lower than the Chinese restaurant. A dollar ninety-nine, all you can eat. From that, I made Mr. Chow into an international, respected restaurant. On breaking down barriers and the greatest living artist. Oh yeah, I'm integrating. When I first started painting, there was a chip on my shoulder, and I said, "I'm not a restaurateur!" But now I'm proud of it and can integrate. Same with Julian Schnabel. He made movies, and they put him down. In my opinion, he's not just one of the greatest living artists, he is the greatest living artist. In the Renaissance, artists did everything. Sculptors were architects. Parting thought. I've been good all my life at integrating … I am a collagist. Like at Mr. Chow's on 57th Street, getting everybody together. Connecting people. I try to integrate the West and the East There's so much disconnect, I'm going nuts. All my life, so much disconnect. So I want to connect. I want to learn and educate at the same time. THIS MONTH, CHOW AND FORMER WARHOL DIRECTOR ERIC SHINER (NEWLY RECRUITED TO SOTHEBY'S) SERVE AS THE CENTERPIECE OF THE TEXAS CONTEMPORARY ART FAIR, SEPTEMBER 29 THROUGH OCTOBER 2, WHERE THEY PRESENT A CONVERSATION ON THESE TOPICS. CHOW WILL SIGN HIS BOOK VOICE FOR MY FATHER, SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2 PM. BOOKS FOR SALE AT EVENT. CONCURRENTLY, CHOW'S PAINTING IS PRESENTED AT THE FAIR JOINTLY BY HOUSTON- BASED EXHIBITORS BARBARA DAVIS GALLERY AND CINDY LISICA GALLERY. 104

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