Zhang Yongzheng(张永正) — the Big Bang of Mysterious rythm
Sometimes Zhang Yongzheng’s art reminds me of the concept of “thin places”, an old Celtic-christian thinking that there are places where the veil between this world and the spiritual world is thin.
This is of course a misinterpretation; his art is thoroughly rooted in Chinese traditon and thought patterns, shaped by his native Gansu province. Zhang Yongsheng’s art contains a whole universe – both the outer and the inner. Notice the way he uses colors. Red, black, green, white and yellow is corresponding respectively to south, north, east, west and center. Accordning to Chinese philosophy, as found in the Book of Changes, they are in turn corresponding to the five basic elements: fire, water, wood, metal and earth.
Someone pointed out that the greatest invention by Greek philosophers was to single out “nature” as being universe without man. The Chinese, though, saw man as inseparable from nature, as part of a whole. Much of Chinese philosophy is an inquiry into man’s struggle to find and maintain balance. So with Zhang Yongzheng’s art.
I often hear contemporary Chinese artists scorn their colleagues for caving in to Commercialism, imitating those in the coastal region who managed to attract investors. Think Maocraze. When I’ve pondered on the question of which art could be seen as representing a different China on the multifaceted scene of Chinese contemporary art, one of the names that keep popping up in my head is Zhang Yongzheng.
Yes, a lot of the references goes back to ancient philosophy, like the Book of Changes, with the Mysterious rythm that has been part of his work Process since 2005. At the same time his art is distinctively contemporary, mostly abstract, elaborating.
In his latest works, the flow of lines seen in most of his works – the mysterious rythm – is abruptly interrupted by a Big Bang. Maybe a comment on the booming changes in Chinese society and its influences on the relation to Chinese cosmology. Maybe a revelation straight into his own aesthetic universe, heralding a new form of expressional language.
I also found that Zhang Yongzheng’s art literally moves me. The horizontalpatterns in “Process” immediately drew me closer when I entered the gallery of TCG Nordica in October 2005. I had to read or interpret this pattern that from a distance looked like a text. As I came closer, it resembled barbed-wire. Repelling, pressuring me back a few steps again.
I think this is the best way of approaching the aesthetical universe of Zhang Yongzheng. Give it some distance, then try at close range. Give it time, but don’t be discouraged from letting your instant imagination lead you in new directions, straight into what we together with him might call a Mysterious rythm.
former Programs Director at TCG Nordica, journalist