Zhang Shujian is a young Chinese painter who intensively examines the human face in his artistic practice. Shujian was born in Hunan Province in 1987 and graduated in the Department of Oil Painting of Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2010. Surprisingly enough, he chose to study in the No.4 Studio, which is known for explorative expressionism. But in the end, he choose the method of Photographic Realism.
Zhang Shujian’s Photorealistic Portraits
Shujian refuses to conform to the established standard of aesthetics. He rather paints all details of the face in his photorealistic portraits. In Shujian’s portraits could be seen all those thing that people tend to overlook or ignore. He points out the beauty in a toothless grin or the heavy, wrinkled eyelids of an elder man. In fine brushstrokes artist paints single hairs on his panels and adds every single freckle, pimple or blemish. Typical in his paintings and drawings is the meticulousness Shujian uses to depict skin. In pencil on paper or with thin layers of oil paint, varnish and lacquer – techniques that resembles Gothic Tempera painting on board – he creates pieces that capture more than the image of a person. Zhang Shujian’s portraits are exercises of great detail, investigations of the human body, and most of all explorations of character. He doesn’t paint beautiful people or make people look beautiful, Shujian paints the beauty within the people. He turns their imperfections into warm expressions of life.
Zhang Shujian and Masters
After his first solo exhibitions of portraits of those near him, he began to draw strangers. Amongst them are reinterpretation of sketches of German realist and Renaissance Masters. In one of his latest series, Skin Weave, he reimagined the skin of figures depicted in sketches by Masters such as Dürer and Da Vinci, bringing these abstracted forms to life in a distorted manner. As a continuation of this exploration, in a style in-between hyperrealism and surrealism, Zhang extracts and highlights details in his latest portraits in a delicate manner. The subject matter conveyed in his works has become driven more heavily by his desire to express personal observations and reflections in a wider context.
Zhang Shujian Exhibitions
Zhang Shujian’s works have been shown in solo and group exhibitions in Beijing, Shanghai, Amsterdam and Hall, Austria. His sought-after works are part of private, corporate and public collections. Shujian won several awards in different exhibitions, including the graduation exhibition. He currently lives and works in Beijing, China.