Art in AmericaFebruary 1, 2004
A decade older than his compatriots, Zhang Jian-Jun, who divides his time between New York and his native Shanghai, showed two high-concept projects. The first, 2000 Years in Motion (2003), consists of three silicone rubber columns, ranging from 74 to 94 inches in height, on motorized scootboards. At the top of each lumpy, twisted, modernist column—their shapes playing off historical Western prototypes identified in photos on the gallery walls—sits a securely adhered antique Chinese vessel. As a subtle commentary on cultural fusion, these tall hybrid forms, engaged in a slow-motion bumper-car dance, show great resiliency—bouncing harmlessly off each other and the surrounding walls when contact is made. In Zhang’s other work, dozens of photographs each with his slight, added-on alterations in pigment—record the favorite locales of Houston art-world notables. Over decades, the deliberately light-exposed photographic images will fade away (like many of the places themselves), leaving only the mark of the artist’s hand—and Zhang’s call for collectors to engage a fresh generation of artists in making new work from the remains….
Zhang Jian-Jun’s sumi-ink abstractions and his oversized “scholar’s rocks” in silicone rubber. In both venues, these three artists, all graduates of some of China’s foremost academies, demonstrated the combination of historical awareness and imaginative newness that is the hallmark of the most vital art new emerging from the People’s Republic.
– Richard Vine