In a private conversation, Roman Signer said that he considers Jiny Lan’s painting a genuine and independent contribution to Chinese art. I understand what he means.
I met Jiny Lan on my first trip to China in a huge KLM plane. We happened to be sitting side by side. And we both wanted to attend the 9. Biennale in Shanghai. She was invited as an artist to the Biennale, I as a curator. I would accompany the project of Roman Signer. Since Jiny's art project was to take place two months later, she was able to help with Roman’s work. Thus began a friendly relationship, which has stabilized after the journey.
Later, she saved my life when I was lost in the Japanese jungle. She had my emergency calls translated. Finally, as I was about to give up, a helicopter came and picked me up off a cliff.
We exchange our thoughts very often. She sends me pictures she has painted fresh, I give her comments. She tells me the secret symbols that she has built into the pictures. You have to know their entire story to decipher the mystery. For example, she often paints falling women, since the leap from a wall was a way to freedom for her. This is a story she does not want to tell everyone.
Jiny's painting is very reminiscent of dreams. She says her life is a dream. When she is in Germany, she dreams of China. When she is in China, she dreams of Germany. The dreams come together in her paintings. The cultures overlap. Dramatically, cultural intersections tower on one another, as in architectural fantasies by Piranesi. What is created is fantastic. There are crossings from East and West. These are miraculous worlds that fascinate - and which at any time seem to be threatened by collapse. Their images never look rigid, they are always in motion. The drama is happening now. Menace and seduction are kept exactly in balance. And one image evolves from the other. Like a chain. Here, too, there is no standstill, no pause. It goes on and on.
In Jiny's art, there are two branches. One is performative and plays out in a group called "Bald Girls". To the group also belongs Xiao Lu, who became famous in the late 1980s for shooting a gun at her very first work during the very first exhibition of contemporary art in the Chinese National Museum in Beijing. The exhibition was immediately closed. If Xiao Lu's father had not been rector of the Hangzhou Art Academy, which is the most important of all China, Xiao Lu would not have dived so quickly.
Through Jiny´s talking, I knew she was part of the Tiananmen Square activities during the 1989 demonstrations. She said that the students had been given warm clothes and food. That the relief organizations had done very good work.The only thing missing was shoes. Her feet were so moist and she had so much pain at her feet that she had to leave the place after two weeks. Because she had not taken off the shoes for so long, the skin began to peel off her feet. So she still has problems with her feet today. A few days after she had left the square, the tanks came.
"Bald Girls" make feminist action. Jiny also works outside the group performatively, for example together with Fluxus artist Ben Patterson. Jiny was in a yellow full body suit, Ben Patterson in a black full body suit. They wrote racist insults against each other with black or yellow color, until both suits are equally black-yellow.
Jiny's art is often about relationships between the genders and cultures. She spent the first half of her life in China, the second in Germany. The two cultures could hardly be more different. Especially for an artist. In Germany she is part of an art system with museums, galleries and collectors. In China, she can in a moment return to the life of the past, as if such a life had never been interrupted.
Jiny, who in her funny, Chinese German, which is faster than real German, because, as in the Chinese concept, is conceptualized without unnecessary stuff like articles, invents many words. Such like the word „Kombinationstier“ , which means a crossing of different animals: for example front giraffe, rear elephant.
She herself is a Kombinationstier. A special intelligence, which testifies to a great deal of life experience, combines with high emotionality. Her paintings are also "Kombinationstier": they connect computer prints with painting, so that it is difficult to distinguish between what is painted and what is printed, and the painted image can also turn into the printed image in the next picture And the analogue and the digital celebrate together a wedding, her pictures are also something like her children, she paints them with the Soul from the body, the surface of beings, works her past on, her own history and the history of China. Jiny Lan has so much ideas that she constantly explodes almost of the ideas.
Jiny is an activist. She paints, performs and writes. Her art is closely interwoven with her life: at the same time she is both private and political, intimate and initiative, vulnerable and powerful. Jiny is a fighter. She fights for a better, more solidarity, more respectful society. She is provocative and has a lot of fans around the globe. And fortunately, she can not only fight but also enjoy.
Jiny has three children and a much younger husband. She earns her own income with art and also supports her family. Jiny finds that artists do not have to be privileged just because they are artists. She finds that especially- and justly! - artists have to earn their livings with their own art. Anything else, especially state support, would create an "over-authority", and this "over-authority" is something she hates above all else.
She crafts her appearance to such an extreme so that she can judge the people when she meet them more quickly. Those who react strangely to her appearance are immediately pushed away so she does not waste any time with them. Just like her outer shape, which does not fit perfectly anywhere, is her art: it does not fit perfectly anywhere, but is unique and unforgettable.
Director Helmhaus Zurich