Jiang Zhi's most recent solo exhibition, "Going and Coming", is the artist's reflection on his personal situation and the cyclicality of life. Creating two newly made series that consist of the paintings of Going and Coming and the photography of Fade, Jiang Zhi uses the myriad formal and material iteration of flowers as the primary subject for a wide range of experimentation. Shown alongside these two series is an immersive four channel video, In the Wind, which visualises the vehement struggles of individuals against mighty odds. The ensemble of works explores the themes of temporality and impermanence of life, articulating the paradox of materiality and perception, suffering and experience.
Going and Coming and Fade aim to recombine and restructure the flowers used in Love Letters, Jiang's iconic photographic series from 2010-2014. Poignantly highlighting the inevitable transience of blooming flowers, Jiang created the Love Letters series by setting different kinds of living flowers ablaze, and capturing the split second when petals and flame coexisted in equanimity.
In the Going and Coming series, the artist utilises the dried flowers left from Love Letters and captures the different moments when they move about on a spinning table, suspended in a temporal series of movement and fragments, ever returning and reincarnating. Engaging with the materiality of oil pigment and the porousness of silk screens, the artist composes the painting in verso and recto, and disrupts the illusion of coherence and linearity. These flowers thus achieve a second life through the reappearance of heterogeneity through the representation of homogeneity, purporting a way to perceive the organic multiplicity of life.
In the Fade series, the artist replaces the real and transient subjects in Love Letters with acrylic, silk and glass flowers that are artificial, seemingly permanent, and ever-green, though showing traces of dust and time. By reconstructing the décor of a common Chinese household in the 1980s, the artist allegorises the foregone epochal aestheticism and romantic imagination of a good life. This vision stands as a stark contrast to our present age, where one enjoys an ever-accelerating pace of change and volatility, yet foregoing a safe space to deposit one's feelings and desires. This also reveals the artist's meditation on classical Chinese philosophy, that things are "neither new nor old, neither leaving nor coming".
The four channel video, In the Wind, consists of four interweaving scenes, "Sisyphus's boulder", "Father's back", "Shifting trees", and "Tempest". As the endlessly shrill winds subsume all the suffering, misfit, loneliness and fluctuation of being, time passes in its sheer violence and annihilation. The indescribability of the wind characterizes the individual's ontology and destination, which are uncertain, irretrievable and untraceable.
About Jiang Zhi
Born in 1971 in Yuanjiang, Hunan, China, Jiang Zhi graduated from China Academy of Art in 1995. Jiang works with a wide range of media, including photography, painting, video, and installation. Fiction and poetry have also been an important part of his artistic output. Consistently engaging with contemporary social and cultural issues, Jiang consciously positions himself at the intersection of poetics and sociology, while weaving mundane social and personal experiences into his works.
As one of the most versatile Chinese artists of his generation, Jiang Zhi has had two major solo retrospectives at OCAT Shenzhen (2016) and Times Museum in Guangzhou (2012). His work has also been exhibited by international institutions and biennials, including "Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World" (Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA, 2017), the 9th Shanghai Biennale (Shanghai Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China, 2012), the 4th Guangzhou Triennial (Guangdong Art Museum, Guangzhou, China, 2012), "Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China" (ICP and Asia Society, New York, USA, 2004), "Zone of Urgency", the 50th Biennale di Venezia (Venice, Italy, 2003), and "P_A_U_S_E", the 4th Gwangju Biennale (Gwangju, South Korea, 2002). Jiang was awarded the Chinese Contemporary Art Award (CCAA) in 2000, the Academic Award of Reshaping History (Chinart from 2000 to 2009) in 2010, and the Credit Suisse Today Art Award in 2012.
Jiang currently lives and works in Beijing, China.