Exploring the Artistic Journey of Yirui Jia: A promising Artist in Painting - An Interview on Munchies Art Club Magazine

Yirui Jia (b. 1997) was born in China and currently lives in New York. 

Jia is a current MFA Fine Arts candidate at the School of Visual Arts. Exuberant, cartoonish, and childlike characters inhabit Yirui Jia’s canvases and sculptures.

yirui jia in her studio, surrounded by stunning fresh contemporary paintings
Yirui Jia: The Emerging Artist where the magic happen | Artist Studio | Image Courtesy by the Artist

Jia’s subjects often interact and associate with each other, ranging from popular culture and cartoon characters to anthropomorphic and animalized daily objects. 

Yirui Jia started her art practice by making cartoonish sculptures that are anthropomorphic hairy characters with complex identities. 

yirui jig visual raising star in the art world, repel, characters and the animalized object rivals character
Yirui Jia: 'Qun' Exhibition view | Photo credit to Zhiyi Zhou

By changing the visual forms and re-identifying the functionality of instantly identified objects, Jia treats the materials intuitively depend on their imaginary character representations. 

As Jia believes, the paintings are like visualized narratives accompanying the sculptures.

Appearing in spontaneous and animated, expressive aesthetics, Yirui Jia’s paintings conjure childlike worlds that are occupied by fragmentary tales and rival narratives. 

 yiri jia, featured artist in her studio, munchies art club
Yirui Jia: New contemporary Painter | Image Courtesy by the Artist

The work is central to the character and its relationship to the others. 

The character is often transformed and reinvented from stereotype popular culture and cartoon characters based on Jia’s interest and memories. 

They have complex identities by reinventing identified symbols and by adding multi-slim limbs that connect and interact with the dramatic environment. 

There are moments of fight and triumph, devotion and failure, momentum and repel, between the characters and the animalized object rivals. 

Having the character as an avatar, Jia tries to capture a humorous yet otherworldly internal conflict. 

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Yirui Jia in her studio


How did you find out you are an artist? 

I did not attend an art school when I was an undergraduate, I went to a small liberal art college double majored in Studio Arts and Management in Pennsylvania. 

Because of the study abroad program, I had a chance to go to an art school in France for half a year. 

yiuri jig with an installation work in contemporary art beside her painting works,
Yirui Jia: 'Poop Fiction' | 50x35x186cm | 2021

From there, I painted the Sainte-Victoire mountain and visited museums and galleries in Europe. 

The study abroad experience strengthened my original passion and made me even more fascinated by art. 

Then I thought I should go to an art school to continue making art. 

So after graduation, I came to New York and majored in Fine Arts at the School of Visual Arts.

Immersing myself with paints, materials, cultivating disruption into the work, and continuing without goals, I gradually became more confident over time as an artist. 

Till the first time I attended a group show with my gallery in Shanghai, people unexpectedly loved my paintings and several pieces were sold.

At that point, I realized that I am capable of sticking with who I am and sustaining my artistic practices as an artist. 

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Yirui Jia: Solo Exhibition | ‘Poop Fiction’, | Gateway Shanghai, China | Photo credit Yirui Jia

Was your family supportive? 

Yes, my family is always very supportive and they are all very proud of me because I am the first one who became an artist in my family (LOL). 

What is your relationship to Instagram? 

Instagram provides an amazing platform for exchanging visual info via images. Instagram is like an electronic portfolio for me, I always post my works on Instagram once I finished.

I look up Instagram pretty much every day to see what other artists are up to, to check out exhibitions, and to discover works that I like. 

yiuri jig, sculpture work of the promising artist complex identities reinventing identified symbols adding multi slim limbs
Yirui Jia: 'Rescue Shark' | 115 x 65 x 110cm | Sisal fibre, chicken wire, copper, sunglasses, rescue dog uniform, cardboard, cotton, plastic bone, plastic chain, acrylic colored | 2021

How important is digitalization for you in connection with your art practice?

 I am a painter and I make sculptures too, so most of the time I work directly with materials and paint.

yirui yea, visual forms and re-identifying functionality instantly identified objects,
Yirui Jia:'Qun' Exhibition shot | Photo credit to Rika Konishi

Digitalization generally is a good thing as it provides accuracy and opens possibilities, but I do not use it as a medium in my art practices.

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Yirui Jia: 'Poop Fiction' exhibition shot | photo credit by the Artist

How has the pandemic left a mark on your work? 

Before the pandemic, I mainly focused on making sculptures.

My school shut down because of COVID so I took a year off and went back to China.

JUPITER on Instagram: “Visit us tomorrow @expochicago booth 375 to see Yirui Jia’s most recent body of work. @yirui_jia Link in bio for more info Thursday: 12:00pm – 9:00pm (VIP Preview) Thursday: 6:00pm – 9:00pm (Opening) Friday & Saturday: 11:00am – 7:00pm Sunday: 11:00am – 6:00pm Image: Yirui Jia Super Glue , 2023 Acrylic and glitter on canvas 72 by 137 in. 182.88 by 347.98 cm. (YJ025) ____ #yiruijia #jupiter #expochicago”
285 likes, 11 comments - jupiter.arms on April 12, 2023: “Visit us tomorrow @expochicago booth 375 to see Yirui Jia’s most recent body of work. @yirui_j...”

Yirui Jia -> JUPITER Gallery

Because of the limitation of studio space, I suddenly had the idea of going back to do flat works — go back to painting, as another parallel narrative along with my sculpture characters.

And it turns out I truly enjoy and am satisfied with what I’ve been doing now, painting and making sculptures at the same time. 

yrui jig, artist now in contemporary painting, repel, characters and the animalized object rivals character
Yirui Jia: 'Qun' Exhibition view | Photo credit to Zhiyi Zhou

When, where do you work best? 

I usually start to work at noon and work until the evening in my school’s studio, depending on when I feel satisfied with today’s work.

Yirui Jia - Artists - Mitchell-Innes & Nash
b. 1997, Binzhou, Shandong, China Lives and works in New York, NY Within Jia’s work resides a cast of characters—many of whom are derived from popular culture and cartoon influences to anthropomorphic objects and animals. Each character has their own complex identity within the childlike worlds in which they are portrayed, empowered by the reinvention of the ordinary. Jia embraces the idea of her paintings serving as visualized narratives to the sculptures and vice-versa. The first of her family to become an artist, Jia is inspired by daily life—the personal and shared experiences, “the undifferentiated universality of objects,” and, perhaps most importantly, the humor of it all.

Yirui Jia -> Mitchell Innes and Nash Gallery

When I am on the subway or in a restaurant, I will sketch in my sketchbook.

When I put on my headphones in my studio I play techno and electric music, I feel impassioned and have a strong need to work. 

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Yirui Jia: 'Simulacrum -FurryTale’, | Show Window Exhibition | WerkStadt e.v. Berlin, Germany | Photo credit WerkStadt Berlin, Lucas Amoriello

Where, how do you usually get inspired? 

I am often inspired by daily life and personal experiences, from shared daily events, popular culture, fables, cartoon characters on billboards and films, to the hybrid creature from a codex, Mexican ceramic ornaments, and masks. 

What does success mean to you? 

I guess more expectations and the urge to keeping it going. 

What are you working on currently?

 I just finished a couple of paintings ‘David Copperfield with White Power Stripe’ for a group exhibition in Hive Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing opening at the end of November. 

Yirui Jia 贾一瑞 on Instagram: “Hi :) from studio 📸 by @garrettcarrolldotcom”
3,325 likes, 100 comments - yirui_jia on September 28, 2022: “Hi :) from studio 📸 by @garrettcarrolldotcom”

Yirui Jia -> Instagram

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