Ahead of Saatchi Gallery's upcoming exhibition Rong Bao Is Me from 23 February to 31 March, we spoke with the Chinese-born, multidisciplinary artist Rong Bao about her eponymous debut solo show.​​

Rong Bao is a multi-disciplinary artist from Beijing, China who has earned recognition both nationally and internationally after graduating with BFA from the School of Art In Chicago in 2021, and an MA from the Royal College of Art in 2023.

Alongside being selected as one of the Top 10 Emerging Artists for the China UCCA Lab x Perrier New Emerging Artists and shortlisted for New Contemporaries in 2022, Rong secured the COLAB / Royal College of Art / Yorkshire Sculpture Park Award. She’s also the recipient of the 2024 Gilbert Bayes Prize awarded by the Royal Society of Sculptors, and the Connections Through Culture grants programme awarded by the British Council.

Can you tell us about your work in ‘Rong Bao is Me’?

This exhibition presents my practice across the media of sculpture, painting, installation, and video. It spans five years of development and experimentation and includes two new works made during the preparation for the show. Many of the works in this exhibition are personal reflections of the bizarre world we live in. My playful transformations of familiar objects prompt audiences to question their perception of the material world. It invites audiences to engage in sensory interactions with the artwork, creating a playground of gestures that mock the absurdity of posing order on society.

What inspires your work?

Any incidental moment in life can become a source of inspiration for me. I've been diagnosed with adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and impulse control disorder due to insufficient dopamine secretion. Because of this, I passively seek new external stimuli to acquire dopamine which draws me to the unexpected events of the world. I am often drawn to absurd and ridiculous things in life, whether it’s sensational news, an ice cream on the ground, meme videos on the internet – which are all sources of inspiration for my work. I love the absurdity and humour of this world.

What trends do you see emerging in the arts in 2024?

I think it’s divided into two parts. On one hand, in the current era of infinite information and visual stimuli on the internet, everyone is constantly distracted. Works that have strong visual impact and capture peoples’ attention, so I think the rise of things like VR technology, which create memorable experiences for people, will have a place in the trends of 2024. On the other hand, people are also seeking more ‘real’ experiences – things that allow them to participate and immerse themselves fully within a physical space, so I also see this becoming a trend. Art can often feel too serious and boring…  I hope we’ll see more interesting and quirky things in the future.

If you weren’t an artist, you’d be…

I haven't considered any other possibilities. I just want to be an artist. If I couldn't be an artist, then I would like to be a free person. But I think the most freeing profession in the world is being an artist, right? Haha.

Other than a phone and keys, what’s the one item you always have on you?

I would like to carry a lump of clay that can be moulded into various things.

How do you relax when you’re not working?

If I have money and time, I go traveling. If not, I lie in bed, eat snacks, and watch funny videos.

What’s your favourite-ever piece of art (that you own or wished you owned!)?

My favourite piece of art and the one I wish to own are two different things. What I like changes every day, too. My favourite piece at the moment is Ada by Karina Smigla-Bobinski. But if you ask me what artwork I would like to own, it would be the most expensive artwork in the world so I can sell it and use the money to fund my own creations.

Find out more: saatchigallery.com/exhibition/rong-bao-is-me or contact the Cultural Comms team on hello@culturalcomms.co.uk