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Fine Arts Academy of Venice

Interview to Wang Qihe, graduate student of Fine Arts in Venice

Posted On 22/06/2021

What do you study at the Fine Arts Academy of Venice? Why did you decide to study Arts in Italy?

I’m a graduate student at the Fine Arts Academy of Venice and I study Painting. The reason why I decided to come to Italy to continue my studies is very simple: because the art of painting is very recognised in Italy both for its deeply artistic roots and its well-established teaching system.

Studying art in Italy is a completely different experience compared to China. In my opinion, perhaps in China teaching still focuses too much on the methodology of art, while in Italy it seems to me that art is more emotional and you can notice that they really respect the individuality of each artist. Besides, I think the artistic atmosphere in Italy is relatively more open and heterogeneous.

I think when you create art in Italy it depends more on the idea and the perception of the painter himself and then the way the work is presented is very original. When you look at art pieces in Italy, you can immediately notice the flow of emotions and the artist’s inner energy in the painting.

I think that by studying painting in Italy, I was able to express myself better and convey my emotions more accurately in my work. This is something that I didn’t get to learn in China.

Why did you choose the Fine Arts Academy of Venice? What was your biggest concern when you sent your application?

Honestly, the most important reason that drove me to apply for the Fine Arts Academy of Venice was the Venice Biennale. As an art student, the Venice International Art Exhibition has always been the exhibition of my dream and it holds a very special place in my heart. And I initially thought that if I got admitted to the Venice Academy, I could visit the Biennale as many times as I would like, so I did not hesitate to apply.

Besides, the Fine Arts Academy of Venice is very prestigious and internationally well-known. I have always been fond of Titian, whose works can be found in our school’s gallery. Of course, other Italian art academies are pretty famous, such as the Florence Academy of Fine Arts, but the Venice Academy has always been my number one choice.

As for the admission process, indeed, all students face the same pressures when applying to Fine Arts Academies in Italy. These pressures consist mainly of two parts: language and speciality. In my case, I was probably more nervous about my Italian not being good enough for the interview. After all, it was the first time I studied the language and Italian grammar is so different from my mother tongue, so I found it really difficult to learn at the beginning.

In your opinion, what qualities must have a student of the Academy?

Like I said before, I think the most important thing for candidates is to lay a solid linguistic foundation which is a fundamental step for anyone who wishes to come and study in Italy. Secondly, your competence should meet all the requirements of the academy. And your works must be approved by the judges. When preparing the portfolio, I think you don’t need to worry too much, just put in the works you like the most and those that can best represent yourself and your style. Remember not to include any works that may appear boring to the judges. Many of the professors at our school are already well-known artists and they will particularly appreciate the creativity and plasticity of the students.

Which aspects do you think you have to develop first as a new student of the Academy?

To answer this question, I would like to first introduce my lecturer at the Venice Academy, Professor Luca Reffo, who is also an artist I really admire. When I was at school, my professor never imposed too many restrictions on my painting and in his course students can feel free to express themselves. He gave me a lot of space and freedom to create art fearlessly, but at the same time, he was always able to enlighten me and give me really useful tips and advice at the right moment and guide his students to think independently and refine their ideas step by step.

Where does your inspiration come from? What would you like to express through your works? Have you ever collaborated with any local galleries in Venice?

My inspiration usually comes from my observation of life, especially those details that are often easily overlooked by people. For me, these little pieces of life that are so often neglected by us have more potential to resonate and evoke wider empathy in the public. That's something I find really interesting.

I hope to magnify these seemingly insignificant details of our daily life through my works and make them last just a little bit longer in our hearts. Because in my opinion, the most fascinating thing about painting is that every piece of good work must contain some sort of emotions in it. And if we ignore certain it, we are also silencing our feelings. So I hope that through my work people can find a way to "rdiscover" those feelings that we often ignore.

When I first came to Venice, I sold two paintings to a small gallery in the centre of Venice. After that, I also participated in the event of "Art Night Venice". I feel very honoured I lived such an experience in Venice which I enjoyed so much!

How long have you been living in Venice? Have you ever been to the Venice Biennale?

This is my third year in Venice. I have visited both the last two Biennales and was particularly impressed by the 2019 edition. The Biennale 2019 was even more amazing than I had imagined before going. I even bought an one-year-ticket to be able to go and visit it as many times as I wished and whenever I went I always found new inspiration.

Among all the pavilions, I was most impressed by the Belgian one. And maybe it depended on my "double identity": I would first simply admire each piece as a common viewer and then examine the works again from an artist's perspective, so I never got tired of looking at them. I think the biggest impact the Biennale had imposed on me was that it opened up my mind and made me realise what the core of art really stands for. It is not right to create art in a way that is too rigid or too literary, in fact, one can have so much fun in the creation of art and express their most subtle feelings through it.

In addition, I also really loved the title of the Venice Biennale 2019, "May You Live In Interesting Times". Since the Biennale is held every year in May, the word "May" had a double meaning in the English title. It's just so brilliant and I remember being so impressed by this design. The extremely high level of the Art Biennale 2019 was unforgettable.

What does it mean to you to be able to study art in the city of Venice? How has Venice influenced your work?

For me, studying art in Venice means a new beginning, a process of overcoming restrictions, and I can confirm that in a way this experience has help me to start a new chapter of my life. When I arrived in Venice, I was going through a rather dark period in my life and then suddenly one day I saw the sunset in Venice. It was mesmerizing and quite picturesque. The twilight shone on the lagoon, the sea was shimmering and kept reflecting the colours of the sky, and I sat there by the sea alone for hours and that was the moment when I finally realised that I had made the right choice and I felt so lucky to be here in Venice.

Studying in Venice made me realise what real art is, that art is not just copying the famous maestros, nor simply mastering the various painting techniques, but that real art is generated by people's feelings and emotions. It is alive and fluid. I think my perception of art has evolved a lot thanks to Venice. I was inspired both by its natural landscape and its artistic environment.

Venice had a great impact on my work. I started to pay more attention to the use of colours and now I can better understand the Venetian school's style, for example, why Titian was fond of using colours in this way, etc. This awareness often gives me the feeling of travelling back in time. In any case, once you have seen Venice, your perception of colours definitely becomes more acute than before. That is why I am very grateful to this city.

How did the pandemic and the restrictions caused by the Covid-19 affect your life as a student?

After the pandemic, we have had a lot of problems. Although we students can indeed paint at home, the environment is totally different from the studio at the Academy. When we were at school, we could interact directly with teachers, talk to classmates and even admire the paintings around us, absorbing all sorts of things to get more inspiration. For art learning, in my opinion, you need communication with others, a healthy interpersonal relationship and constant visual stimulation because we rely a lot on our eyes. If you study at home alone, obviously these things are not possible to obtain.

Is there another place in Venice you like to visit?

Apart from the Biennale, each year almost all the museums in Venice (both public and private ones) organize various kinds of temporary exhibitions. I don't know if you have ever heard of the Punta della Dogana, which every year hosts a series of exhibitions related to contemporary art. I think the exhibitions there are very interesting and always worth a visit.