Duality: Stoneware and Bronze

September 23, 2011 - February 3, 2012

Wenzhi Zhang

Wenzhi Zhang was born in Guangzhou, China. She holds a MFA from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the Seoul National University of Sciences and Technology in South Korea. Wenzhi Zhang's works are represented in prestigious private and public collections, including private collections of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. Worth mentioning: National Art Museum of China, Malaysia National Art Museum, Norway National Museum of Art, Korean Palace Kiln Museum and many other university museums. Wenzhi Zhang has lectured internationally in many universities and has written several textbooks on Ceramics, The Art of Contemporary Materials in 1993, Classroom Ceramics in 2001, and Contemporary Ceramics Art and Design in 2011. Currently, she works and teaches Ceramics at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, China.

About the Exhibit

"Duality" is a supposed magic behavior of matter and energy achieved under different conditions. “That Era”, “This Time”, “Women’s World”, “Warrior”, and “Please Don’t Forget the Dragons” are  assembly of works created using both bronze and stoneware -- two radically different media with different interpretations of the same parenthood.

This group of works induce to infer 17th century German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’s theories on identity and indiscernible. As an admirer of his work, Duchess Sophie of Hohenberg often discussed with Leibniz the ontological practices of analyzing and identifying individual and shared characteristics of matter. “Duality” demonstrates the importance of differentiating the behavior that results directly from the “now” generalization. These pieces all share identical parent figure, but are produced with fundamentally different essence of bronze and clay. The production process, size, texture, visual impact, color, weight, and feel of both materials produce the individuality of each piece. Bronze is ornate, clay breathes simplicity; bronze is cold, clay is passionate; bronze is casted, clay is fired; bronze shrinks 1% in the casting process, while clay shrinks 10% during firing; bronze is polished, clay is matte; bronze is colored motion-less and solid, but clay’s color flows.

By interpreting the unyielding persona of bronze and the fluid persona of clay, I strive to reveal the earlier social implications of my childhood.  The series “That Era,” spanned through my teenage years, when I was ripe to learn and explore. Are an epitomize of China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), which the mental function or act, can be maintained properly trough years of service.

 During “That Era”, the Red Guards were instructed to burn all books and scholarly publications. The only thing we could read was the book of quotations from Chairman Mao, “Lao San Bian” (”The Three Must-Reads”). All over China as long as the Red Guards were carrying backpacks with the letters “wei ren min wu fu” (”to serve the people”) and wearing the caps with red stars, peasants and soldiers were required to receive them in their homes at no charge.

Students were not encouraged to learn about culture, as it was deemed unnecessary. “That Era” is the Cultural Revolution -- the era that left me with deep scars. I created this series through the different use of bronze and clay to make a statement about my sociological perception of the Cultural Revolution. I wanted convey my childhood memories through the realism of my work.

"This Time" series, reflects today's widespread problem of over-emphasis on academic diplomas instead of actual skills. University professors are more geared towards theories instead of real practice. Students have less hands-on working experience, which is why they face mass unemployment upon graduation. "This Time" reveals the existing social problems of this era and hopes to hinder a solution towards China’s education reform system.

 “Women’s World" demonstrates the woman’s cycle of life—from an innocent young girl to an independent woman; from a loving mother to a nagging grandmother. The representation of these four women’s, in the distinctive roles and different stages of life, convey the complete cycle of existence; a cycle of happiness and bitterness. Women are the world. Being able to understand women is being able to understand the world.

The "Please Don’t Forget the Dragons” series are the legendary nine variations of dragons in ancient Chinese combinations: fish, horse, bird, snake, cow, lion and other animals. These figures of Chinese legend have around eight thousand years of history.  In China, the spirit of the dragon represents unity. In the modern society, the dragon has been transformed into a symbol of good luck. I set sights on portray the transformation and development of modern China through these nine legends.

In these series, I haul deliberate through surrealistic method and I confer human persona to the nine dragon’s variations. With mouths, eyes, and feet of humans, the animal figures are abridge and purified. They personification bring them life. There are the “one” who are elegant, who are beautiful; who are spiritual, who are proud; who are dignified, who are kind; who are reserved and who are carefree. The nine dragons stand proud in their own aura.

Please don’t forget the dragons!