Contemporary Art

Zhan Wang

China 1962


Zhan Wang
Zhan Wang
November 3, 2014
Ok, I know it's so damn corny to quote somebody just to describe yourself, let alone Confucius, but this quote says all about my relationship with Widewalls, so forgive me for doing this: Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Am I forgiven?

Zhan Wang is a contemporary Chinese artist. Primary, he is a sculptor; but also known in other art forms such as installations, photography and video. Many of his works include the use of simplistic object that serve a purpose of telling a complex idea.

Zhan’s art education started at an early age, from brush painting lessons by his grandfather and sketching lessons by his uncle, to the endless games of brick building (which foreshadowed his later urban landscape series).

He went to the Central Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied in the Sculpture Department. Zhan spent his entire college years in the atmosphere of the 85 New-Wave Movement. Between his Realist training at the Academy and the Modernist influences that came from exhibitions, conferences, and sensational events, Zhan started developing his own style.

Zhan’s pieces consist of conceptual ideas where he “embraces and subverts several other major traditions in modern art, both Chinese and Euro-American”. Many of his ideas that are expressed through his works pertain to Chinese culture.  Zhan concentrates primarily on abstract forms, which he calls floating stones: large, highly textured rock-like pieces coated in chrome. They are also called mountain or scholar’s rocks. In the Chinese culture, the rock holds a high value; rocks have been thought to possess the purest qi, or vital energy, and collected as objects of art and tools of meditation.

In his 1990 Sidewalk series, Zhan tried to break from the sculptural tradition of depicting only religious or heroic figures, by choosing the most common people on the sidewalks as his subjects. He used painted resin as medium instead of the traditional monochrome bronze and marble, and covered these life-size sculptures with real clothes, before painting them.

Later, Zhan started experimenting on more Conceptual sculpture, producing a new series The Mao suit –he used a stiffening agent to permanently mold Mao suits into such shapes to imply a contorted body within.

The same idea of emphasizing the “shell,” instead of what’s underneath, was carried on in the artist’s most well-known series, Artificial rock, the first Chinese Contemporary sculpture to be collected by The Metropolitan Museum, and stimulated many performance pieces by the artist in the following years.

In 2004, Zhan scaled Mount Everest and placed one of his own sculptures at the summit. For his “On Gold Mountain” exhibition at the Asian Art Museum, located in San Francisco, in 2008, he used rocks selected from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada to create his sculptures, alluding to the nineteenth-century Chinese immigrant experience of mining gold during the California gold rush.

Zhan now lives and works in Beijing.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group 
2014The 12th National Art Exhibition - Experimental ArtToday Art Museum, BeijingGroup
2014Right Is Wrong: Four Decades of Chinese Art from the M+ Sigg CollectionBildmuseet, UmeåGroup
2014Fundamental Abstraction IIIHaines Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2013Zhan Wang - Interactive Perspectives: Contemporary Art Exhibition Across the Taiwan Straits 2013Long March Space, BeijingSolo
2013Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary ChinaThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NYGroup
2013Pure ViewsChengdu Museum of Contemporary Art MoCA, Chengdu, SichuanGroup
2013Passage to History: 20 Years of La Biennale di Venezia and Chinese Contemporary ArtArsenale di Venezia, VeniceGroup
2012Form Of The FormlessLong March Space, BeijingSolo
2012Future Pass World ExhibitionToday Art Museum, BeijingGroup
2012Art for the MassesHua Gallery, LondonGroup
2012Future PassNational Taiwan Museum of Art, TaichungGroup
2012VerticalOta Fine Arts, TokyoGroup
2011Zhan Wang : My Personal UniverseUCCA - Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, BeijingSolo
2011On Site: Zhan WangMilwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WISolo
2011Future PassWereldmuseum, RotterdamGroup
2011Collecting History: China New ArtChengdu Museum of Contemporary Art MoCA, Chengdu, SichuanGroup
2011FabricatorSoka Art Center - Beijing, BeijingGroup
2011Art Re: ArtWilliams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MAGroup
2011Spring GroupLong March Space, BeijingGroup
2010Looking ExhibitionEslite Gallery, TaipeiSolo
2010The Power From Academy - Cafa Contemporary Art ExhibitionGuangdong Times Museum, Guangzhou, GuangdongGroup
2010Clouds:Power of Asian Contemporary ArtSoka Art Center - Beijing, BeijingGroup
2009LandMarkHaines Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2008Zhan Wang: Gold MountaiHaines Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
2008Garden UtopiaNational Art Museum of China - NAMOC, BeijingSolo
2008On Gold Mountain - Sculptures from the Sierra by Zhan WangAsian Art Museum, San Francisco, CASolo
2008Material TerrainHaines Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2008New World Order - Contemporary Installation Art and Photography from ChinaGroninger Museum, GroningenGroup
2007Artificial RockUrban Art, SeoulSolo
2007China Under Construction - Contemporary Art from the People's RepublicDeborah Colton Gallery, Houston, TXGroup
2007The Quiet Gesture: Recent Chinese ArtThe Newark Museum, Newark, NJGroup
2007TemptationsThe Columns, SeoulGroup
2006Zhan Wang - Urban LandscapeWilliams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MASolo
2006Invisible ThreadsMadelyn Jordon Fine Art, Scarsdale, NYGroup
2006Building Code ViolationsLong March Space, BeijingGroup
2006Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from ChinaHaus der Kulturen der Welt, BerlinGroup
2005Zhan Wang - Flowers in the MirrorHanart TZ Gallery, Hong KongSolo
2005The Elegance of Silence Contemporary Art From East AsiaMori Art Museum, TokyoGroup
2005The New Long March Space Inaugural ExhibitionLong March Space, BeijingGroup