Dimensions: 56 x 18 x 18″
Media: fired clay with glaze
Wanxin Zhang’s Rainbow Day depicts the figure of a woman adorned with Chinese dragon tattoos along her shoulder and arm, which are partially concealed by the rainbow glazes Zhang has painted and dripped down her body. Within China, Zhang’s home country, homosexuality was only legalized in 1997 and gay marriage remains a contentious topic; while only legitimated by law in 2015 in the United States, Zhang uses the distinct symbolism behind the rainbow flag to highlight the contrast between the two countries regarding homosexual relations and government policy. This implicates both past and present by inadvertently reflecting on the way gay rights have been held throughout history and where they now stand in a contemporary and global context.
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 lines 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 country—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