Jian-Jun Zhang exhibits series of sumi-ink on paper works from two different ongoing investigations. The subject of one investigation is scholars’ rocks. Zhang applies sumi-ink to heavy paper to create depictions of scholars’ rocks and then uses a torch to burn the ink. The burnt patina mimics the surface of weatherworn stone. While these works draw attention to the practice of contemplating scholars’ rocks as “artificial mountains,” the other, related, investigation is of water and the word “water.” In a “wet on wet” style Zhang uses a highly aqueous ink medium to create compositions through repeatedly painting the word “water.” Here water, the substance responsible for the wear and character of scholars’ rocks and mountains alike, is used as a medium to set down its own symbolic representation. Each of the thirty-five drawings in the series features a different language’s word or character for water. The “English” and “Chinese” examples from this series are presented at Art Projects International. Elements of the scholars’ rocks project, including recent sculpture, were shown as part of Zhang’s installation Sumi-Ink Garden of Re-Creation at the Fourth Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai, China (2002).
Jian-Jun Zhang, born in Shanghai, People’s Republic of China, first came to the U. S. in 1987 on a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship and has been living and working in New York since 1989. He belongs to the very small group of avant-garde artists who left Mainland China for Europe and the United States in the 1980s.
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