Chinese reporter Zhang Hongbin interviews National Watercolor Society President Ken Goldman for an article on the NWS China/America Exchange Exhibition. China is home to a large number of artists painting in the watercolor medium. These talented Chinese artists are very interested in the work done by American watercolorists, and in an effort to promote global art the National Watercolor Society came up with a great concept. They created the China/America Exchange to allow talented artists from China to visit, study, and exhibit their works in America, and vise versa for our homegrown American artists. The concept is brilliant, and a great way for artists painting around the world to exchange skills, philosophy, and art with their peers. The following Q and A session with Chinese reporter Zhang Hongbin and Ken Goldman gives great insight into this international endeavor.
This interview is currently being published throughout China in anticipation of the NWS International Small Image China Exchange Exhibition in Shenzhen. Ken, Stephanie and Linda Doll will be present for the opening ceremonies as representatives of NWS.
Zhang: You are an international known artist, author, teacher and art juror. Do you think that which identity is the most important to you ? How do you achieve multiple identities conversion?
Ken: This is a difficult question to answer as the translation could have several meanings. The most important identity for me is that of being an artist and a good human being. Teaching is also important because one must share knowledge with others. I do not teach and Jury too much because I spend most of my time painting.
Zhang: When do you begin your watercolour creating? How do you understand the water media art?
Ken: A painting begins as soon as I have a new idea. Water media art is just one of many techniques I use to express an idea. I do not stop painting until I have done the best I can. Each painting has unique challenges. The methods I devise to solve these challenges become new skills that I carry foreword from one painting to the next. I only enjoy painting watercolors that provide new challenges to my present skills. I have been painting professionally for 45 years and am still just as excited to learn as ever!
Zhang: In contemprary art, watercolour is not in same position with oil painting,sculpture, installation art and conceptual art.In other words: watercolor always had a tendency to be marginalized, how do you think this phenomenon?
Ken: Yes, watercolor is still considered inferior by many critics because for so many years after the advent of oils, it was only used for studies and often considered “a perfect medium for women”. But watercolor really has an even richer, longer history than oils; your culture has used water-media for thousands of years, western culture used it way before oils in icons and even the ancient cave paintings were painted with water-based pigments. One of the most important missions of water-media organizations should be to highlight the best watercolors in the world so water-media will gain the recognition it deserves.
Zhang: Watercolour history in United States is later than in United Kingdom. However, the passion to creat watercolour in USA is far more than in UK. What do you think the main factor infulence the watercolor boom in the postwar?
Ken: Watercolor has a very rich history in England with artists such as Constable and Turner standing out as great examples. But as much as they both loved watercolor, they too viewed it as a secondary medium to oils. I think one of the main reasons Americans have taken to watercolor with such passion is because we are young compared to China and Europe and like adolescents, we tend to be very experimental and sometimes even brash. We are always looking for new ways to break rules and innovate, often with little regard for the past. In America, we call this exuberant creative passionate expression the “CAN-DO-SPIRIT”.
Zhang: I made a rough statisticks for American watercolor associations, there are nearly 80 watercolour associations. What role do these associations played to promote the prosperity and other aspects of American watercolour?
Ken: Water-media Societies such as NWS and others exist to educate the public, provide a competitive venue for watercolor artists and to provide highly informative demonstrations, lectures and workshops by award winning artists. Anyone is welcome to attend all of our educational activities. This is how we educate and inform the public about the latest advances in water-media painting.
Zhang: How much do you understanding of the Chinese contemporary watercolour? How do you evaluate the Chinese contemprary watercolour?
Ken: In the 70’s, I practiced Chinese brush painting for 3 intensive years as I have always loved Chinese philosophy, art and calligraphy so I am very familiar with Traditional Chinese watercolor. It is only recently that I’ve become aware of contemporary Chinese Watercolor and can see the strong influence of many Chinese artists growing up with a brush and water-soluble ink in hand. The transition from traditional Chinese brushwork to contemporary Chinese watercolor has been a natural evolution and the results are extraordinarily beautiful.
Zhang: In the context of globaliztion, do you think what kind of attitude and approach should the artists take and the communication between artists in all world to achieve the best state?
Ken: I think our NWS Small China Exchange Exhibition and your Shenzhen International Biennial Exhibition is a perfect way to begin our East/West dialogue. Because artists are not politicians and art transcends cultural differences and political boundaries, artists are perfect ambassadors to promote unity and cooperation through the timeless language of beauty, composition and design.
Zhang: Compared with Europe and USA, the Chinese artists have few chance to attend International watercolour event and exhibitions because of many factors. So the Chinese artists often distress for loss so many opportunities to participate in international communication chance.What do you think how the Chinese artist change the current facing situation?
Ken: The Chinese will not need to be distressed for long if both of our governments are supportive of Western and Chinese artistic cooperation. American artists certainly welcome this interchange because we feel our two cultures have much to offer one another.
If artistic interchange is allowed to continue, soon the Chinese will have as many venues for displaying art as we.
Zhang: Please introduce the 2015 the National Watercolor Society annual exhibition? And what is the features of 2015 exhibition?
Ken: The 2015 National Watercolor Society’s annual International Exhibition is open to both members and non-members. The entry deadline is July 31 and entries from anywhere in the world are welcome. Our Website is www.nationalwatercolorsociety.org. The NWS Small China Exchange Exhibition is now closed for entries. It is comprised of 100 Chinese paintings Juried by Linda Doll of America and 100 NWS member paintings juried by Zhou Tianya of China. The China reception will be at the Shenzhen Museum on December 7, 2015. Then the exhibition travels to the NWS Gallery in San Pedro, California, July 30 - September 2016.
Zhang: For the Chinese watercolour artist, if they attend your 2015 the National Watercolor Society annual exhibition,what kind of artistic experience should the artist get?
Ken: We usually have several entries from China and many Chinese entries seem to win awards. All work selected for this show will be very high quality because we have a rigorous jurying system - 3 Jurors of selection and one Juror of Awards. If Chinese Artists attend the 2015 International Exhibition, they can expect to be greeted warmly, meet other artists and stay in a hotel near the gallery. There will be demonstrations, lectures and painting time. The ocean is nearby and there are many wonderful places to paint at either the San Pedro docks and harbor or at the Ocean.
Zhang: If we recommend Chinese artists to attend your annual exhibition, what's kind of suggestion should you give us?
Ken: Enjoy your visit, the new friends you will meet and American cuisine and culture.