(Written by Marlies)
A house built by old car tires, empty bottles (mainly beer bottles) and stones/ elements from old buildings. This is what we encountered when we arrived at the house of master (this is how he is called by the most people I speak to) Yu Zhenli. Mr. Qu Zhen Wei (culture Journalist) who attended my opening thought his and my artwork had similarities and wanted us to meet each other. Master Yu Zhenli is a famous artist from Dalian, he started as a realistic painter but changed through time to more abstract painting and later on he started to build his own house and surrounding with waste materials. Mr. Cheng Liang drove Vivian, Zhang Bin, Ye Hongtu and me to his house on the Big Black Mountain. There we would meet Master Yu Zhenli and the mr. Qu Zhen Wei.
The day could not have been better. A clear en clean blue sky with sunshine presented itself. So all the colors were very vibrant. Mr. Yu started building his house from an old house which was already there, during many years he changed and added elements to the house. He created walls with left over stones and pieces of old buildings and empty bottles. Everything he uses is recycled. The empty bottles he uses are mostly collected by the community or for example donated by a restaurant. The house is built in a small valley. As a result, there are several small areas around the house that are free of the wind. It made me feel like I was in the South of France during autumn. The house en the nature around it are slowly mixing together. The natural rocks have the same rhythm and texture as het house. ‘The rocks are like a painting’ as mr. Yu puts it.
In the garden you find several hills and pyramids made of glass bottles. These shapes are filled with a mixture from trash and concrete. I thought one was particularly beautiful. An igloo like dome shape was made of hundreds of medicine bottles. It made it look like it was made of ice. Everything in and around the house is part of the art project. And the building of the house is an ongoing process, every day the scene is a bit different than the day before. Inside mr. Yu Zhenli asked me to sign the sealing. The signatures of a lot of artists who visited the house before me were already there. I though it an honor that my name now is one of them.
Before lunch there was time to sit down for a moment to look at the books with the works of mr. Yu and to show my works on the iPad. If I ever visit China again I definitely need an art book of my own to give to the people I meet. I think I need a new bookcase to contain all the books I received.
We had lunch at a nearby restaurant, the first restaurant for me outside the city. They had a place with a low table on a heated increase. I still keep being amazed by how delicious the simply cooked fresh seafood is. During lunch we kept on talking about art, the perception of art and the taoist way of thinking. Every day I ask someone else to give me a new Chinese word to learn. Mr. Yu came up with two words: ‘Empty bottle’. Because he uses them in his artwork but also as a metaphor for life and creativity. Because if something is empty there is space for something new. In this context he thinks of himself as bing the empty bottle. A beautiful philosophical way of thinking.