Dimensions: 30.5 x 13.5 x 6.5″
Media: cast bronze
Wanxin Zhang’s cast bronze work, Old Wall, encourages viewers to question the figure’s placement, where it is difficult to determine whether the man consensually became part of the wall or was consumed by the structure. Zhang suggests a sense of history within the piece, reflecting corporeal preservation in the way that the figure continues to exist through the wall’s standing. Zhang also insinuates sacrifice within the work, using the lack of distinction between man and wall to depict the reality, and therefore tragedy, of historical Chinese events such as the building of the Great Wall.
Wanxin Zhang is a Chinese artist who has spent much of his career creating and teaching in the United States, after moving to San Francisco in 1992 to receive his Master in Fine Arts at the Academy of Art University. Zhang’s work often focuses on blurring the line between the past and present; after visiting the Qin dynasty terra cotta warriors, Zhang observed that many of the regulations associated with the oppressive Chinese government were not specific to a contemporary context, but have been implemented throughout Chinese history. Zhang uses his clay works to sustain a critical and analytical dialogue on the political atmosphere within his home coun-try—simultaneously playing with the contrast to western democracy and the artistic liberties it has allowed him. Zhang’s work has been influenced by Bay Area artistic movements such as the figurative and funk movements, and draws from the work of artists like Stephen de Staebler and Peter Voulkos. Zhang’s sculptural works are typically made with clay, which allows him to “push the boundaries of what clay can express” and “to see how [he] can truly incorporate [his] purpose, inspirations, and critiques to reflect life”.
by Keira Seidenberg