Shan Shui — Beverage (Chinese Scholar’ s Rock, Qing Dynasty)


Ink and silk

189 × 248 cm

"Shan Shui" is a series of Chinese ink paintings XU ZHEN® began in 2023, capturing his sculptures and installations in the form of Chinese paintings. Coupled with Chinese ink painting as a medium, such products of conceptual art constitute the possibility of a new civilizational relationship. The objects of the paintings are conceptual sculptures created by XU ZHEN® under the banners of a transforma- tion and iteration of civilization symbols as well as a revaluation of cultural values. Shan shui, or landscape painting, is not only a category of Chinese painting, but also a philosophy on life typical of Chinese culture. XU ZHEN® distances shan shui from a depiction of natural scenery, and nudges it towards a reflection on the resonance between contemporary people and the universe. In this series, Chinese painting functions as a constantly self-expanding cultural agitator that coexists with various realities of contemporary shan shui including artificial nature, cloud computing, the Anthropocene, and the biosphere.

Through a cross-contextual reorganization of distinctive visual symbols, the "Shan Shui — Beverage" series expands XU ZHEN®'s attempt to transform civilizational experience with contemporary concepts. In paintings from this series, an ancient Greek pillar, as a symbol of human civilization, are planted onto Chinese scholars' rock. While isomorphically displacing themselves with straws, such pillars defamiliarize and tease whatever it is they insert into, rendering it both out of place and abreast of the times. The artist renders the everyday action of “sucking” as a metaphor for the interactive relations within humans’ cognition of civilization in the post-globalization era: for instance, a search for a future out of history, the conjuring of illusion by Eastern and Western civilizations of each other, and, not least, a symbolization of the uncertainty and dynamism of contemporary realities.

Shan Shui — Beverage (Chinese Scholar’ s Rock, Qing Dynasty)

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