The Year of Rat in China didn’t start well, especially in Wuhuan, the capital of Hubei province and the centre of the outbreak of the new coronavirus. Several artist friends of mine are living there. I contacted them through social media, found out they are well and staying positive.
Zhang Lian is one of them. He is the lecture at the printmaking department in Hubei Institute of Fine Arts, he said, “I hope life will be back to normal soon.” He said that his everyday life activities, such as going to the institute, teaching, and printing at the studio now seem more precious than ever.
We chatted about art, including his first major solo show at Hubei Museum, titled ‘Folded Time and Space’ in October and November last year. In 2020, he will have his another solo exhibition in Beijing.
Here are some details and photos from his solo show. This is an exhibition that breaks through the boundaries of printmaking, from artworks to on-site installations. One example is of a staircase incorporating the water element. Whether it is the re-creation of landscape graphics, or the various materials and techniques used in the work, Zhang Lian’s exhibition has largely refreshed viewers’ perception of printmaking.
Art critic Lu Hong, who is currently writing a history of Chinese contemporary art, is interested in Zhang Lian’s re-transformation of traditional Chinese language icons on various materials.
Since the beginning of the new century in Chinese contemporary art history, one of the biggest trends is to re-signify it. “In the New Trend of 85, in order to break through the extreme left wing art pattern, artists have made greater use of Western modern art concepts and methods. This has a positive impact on the development and innovation of contemporary art, but it has also caused a problem, which is ‘de-Chineseisation’, or excessive Westernisation.
After the new century, artists have been working to correct this problem. In Zhang Lian’s exhibition, it can be clearly seen that while the artist tested and explored various materials, he also included a connection with the traditional, such as is seen in the modern re-creation of the traditional landscape painting images. His excavation and transformation of traditional culture not only opened up new depth and space for printmaking, but also formed his new language.”
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