The other day I went to meet Fei Teng, a local artist that is expanding the contemporary art and culture scene in OCT Contemporary Art Terminal, Shenzhen. First we met at Old Heaven bookstore cafe, one of my favourite places in Shenzhen, having a coffee or tea surrounded by artist books, a good selection of LP’s and some nice old collective items, is a good place to get some inspiration. The space is divided by two compartments; once you cross the door of the actual library you find some tables and armchairs to sit and relax. The atmosphere is similar as in any western style coffeshops, the walls are full of a variety of paintings, chinese books and vintage objects that are eye catching to any visitor . And don’t miss, the Miro poster with a huge F.C.Barcelona sign …the owner is a big Cule as me, which adds one more reason to love this place!
We ordered two cappuccino and sat on one of the sofas facing the indoor terrace, a very pleasant spot! We postponed our meeting till the Shenzhen Jazz Festival was over, Fei and his team are responsible for the annual Jazz event organisation, and remembering my past event organisation experience I can tell its hard time and lots of work.
But now its time to star talking about Fei, he studied in Akademia der Bildenden Künste, München. His international experience is mainly based in Germany ,he believes that to do things different, as a person and artist, you need to go beyond your limits, open your eyes to other cultures. Enhance your life spectrum by going abroad and discover what the world has to offer. That’s what he did almost 30 years ago, he did a big jump from China to the west. First staying in Düsseldorf, then in München and afterwards staying a some years in Berlin. A total of 17 years away from home, speaking mostly german, which he still speaks fluently, although he learned most of his german in bars and cafe’s. Most of his memories go back to that time in München, where he managed a decent sized studio-bar, wirrschaft in domagkateliers. The cultural programme changed every week; so that you could enjoy from life-music, exhibitions, readings, talks up to private friends parties. A multi-facet little place that brought together the best of München’s contemporary art scene at that time.
It’s always refreshing to speak with a Chinese person in another language and not Chinese or English. We started speaking in german, and instantly it took us to the same place and cultural background. He described the german ‘Kunstszene’ beginning of the 90s, when the Berlin Mauer fall inspired and attracted artists all over the world. A liberal, easy-going life-style and wealth of surprisingly low-rent studios made Berlin to be in the spotlight as a creative and art active city since nowadays.
For the past 5 years Fei is transforming OCT Shenzhen in a reputable contemporary art district, he is working to build an exhibition center in B10, a decent sized warehouse that can be set up for different art and cultural events. It’s a long way to go, but he won’t give up, he states that one of his important aims is to facilitate a space for culture exchange and intercommunal in Shenzhen so that people from this city will get more interested in a cross-cultural and artistic interaction.
There are certainly other art spaces in Shenzhen, but you cannot meet many people that understand contemporary art as an experimental and multi-dimensional imaginary. His art work is connected to the reality, to the here and now, to today’s society. He believes that everyday happenings affects him, and he will keep sharing his thought and art with friends. Now he is preparing a new painting series that hopefully will be exhibited soon in B10.
To end with my wonderful visit at Fei’s Studio, we went with his team for lunch to a small Chinese bar, hidden in between fashionable top restaurants, it is one of this charming spots where food taste as good as a home-made. We all ordered the classic noodle soup with vegetables and meat, and let’s not forget the mandatory sucking noise chinese do when having soup.
Many thanks to Fei and his team for that great day…