“Time can not only go to the future but also return to the past. Time is still and transcendent when being gazed at by the human spirit.”—Wu Liang, on ZJ’s work
Born 1955, Shanghai. Lives and works in New York City and Shanghai
Zhang Jianjun cites among his greatest influences the classic Taoist works attributed to Zhuangzi and Laozi. Throughout his artistic career, he has been preoccupied by themes of existence, time, space, and transformation, and their effects on individuals and culture. For his China Chapter series (2007–2012), he recreated ancient clay pottery in silicone rubber tinted with stylish colours, often slightly altering the original shapes. By faking priceless antiquities in a mass-produced, cheap and almost indestructible material, he raises questions about history and culture, endurance and transience, and the meanings of value and authenticity. What makes the old pots so highly prized? Is it for their form, their fragility, or simply their rarity? If the new ones can be churned out in a factory, does that make them worthless? The old ones are revered as icons of Chinese culture. Are the new ones Chinese at all?