Dimensions: 28 x 18 x 12″
Media: fired clay with glaze
Wanxin Zhang’s Warrior Bust employs Zhang’ characteristic method of drawing intricate symbols and Chinese symbols onto his figures and overlaying the work in streaky, and often mottled, glazes. Zhang references the Qin terra cotta warriors within the title of the work, rendering it from a more contemporary viewpoint by depriving the sculpted figure of its lower body as would have been present had the work been conceived under Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang. The man remains caught in a temporal limbo, for he displays both historical and contemporary qualities that prevent him from clearly fitting within either period.
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 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