Zhan Wang - Contemporary Art Part I New York Thursday, May 17, 2007 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private collection, Europe

  • Catalogue Essay

    Chinese garden rocks, also known as “fantastic rocks” for their unusual shapes, are prized for their aesthetic value as well as their symbolic function in Chinese gardens. Traditional Chinese gardens were conceived as microcosms of the natural universe; the rocks within them were highly stylized representations of mountains designed to evoke sensations of the sublime in the viewer. Zhan Wang forms each “Artificial Rock” sculpture by hammering stainless steel sheets around each rock until they form a second skin, then welding the sheets together to recreate a highly polished version of the original rock that mirrors its environment. “The material's glittering surface, ostentatious glamour, and illusory appearance make it an ideal medium to convey new dreams (of contemporary China).” (H. Wu, Zhan Wang, at http://www.shanghart.com/texts/zhanwang3.htm)

    The critic Wu Hung further explains: "We must realize that to Zhan Wang, 'glittering surface, ostentatious glamour, and illusory appearance' are not necessarily bad qualities, and that his stainless-steel rocks are definitely not designed as satire or mockery of contemporary material culture. Rather, both the original rockeries and his copies are material forms selected or created for people's spiritual needs; their different materiality suits different needs at different times. The problem he addresses is thus one of authenticity: Which rock- the original or his copy- more genuinely reflects contemporary Chinese culture? Interestingly, the Chinese call natural rockeries jia shan shi, or "fake mountain rocks." According to Zhan Wang, such rocks, even if made of real stones, have truly become "fakes" when used to decorate a contemporary environment. But his stainless-steel rocks, though artificial, signify the "genuine" of our own time." (Id.)


Artificial Rock #42

Polished stainless steel on black metal base.
98 x 78 x 51 1/2 in. (248.9 x 198.1 x 130.8 cm).

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $288,000

Contemporary Art Part I

17 May 2007
7pm New York