On 13th August, 2022, “RESTART | UNLIMITED—Zhang Yanzi, Wang Xiao and Yu Yu Trio Exhibition” was officially unveiled at Minerva Gallery in Hefei. With Minerva (Yiqian) Zang acting as the Curator and Sun Xin as the Academic Director, the exhibition presents three relatively independent chapters, composed of recent masterpieces by three contemporary artists, Zhang Yanzi, Wang Xiao, and Yu Yu. Their artistic language forms are rich and diverse, involving various media including ink painting, installation, printmaking, mixed media, etc. Their extraordinary ways of thinking reflect their profound reflections of traditional culture, contemporary contexts, and inner self. It just so happens that they are all "women".
View of the Opening CeremonyThe Group Photo of Honored Guests at the Opening Ceremony
Honored guests attended the opening ceremony of the exhibition included: Yang Guoxin, former Chairman of Anhui Artists Association; Li Anyuan, Professor and Doctoral Supervisor of Nanjing University of the Arts; Yu Liang, Vice President and Postgraduate Supervisor of the Fine Art Institute of Chinese National Academy of Arts; Liu Quan, President of the School of Arts at Anhui University; Dong Song, Vice President and Research Librarian of Anhui Provincial Academy of Calligraphy and Painting; Minerva (Yiqian) Zang, Director of Minerva Gallery (via video), artists Zhang Yanzi, Wang Xiao, Yu Yu; Sun Xin, art critic and academic director of the exhibition, as well as many art practitioners and art lovers. The opening ceremony was presided over by Tong Xiaoqin, Executive Director of Minerva Gallery.
Yang Guoxin, the former Chairman of Anhui Artists Association, delivered a speech.
In his speech, Yang Guoxin, the former Chairman of Anhui Artists Association, affirmed the academic positioning of Minerva Gallery and this exhibition. He believed that Zhang Yanzi, Wang Xiao and Yu Yu have received rigorous academic education and all of them have independent thinking and vigorous development, and the exhibition was also full of a contemporary and academic spirit. He commented that it was a happy thing that we now live in a peaceful, stable, harmonious and creative society. Artists should jointly think about how to create works that are close to the context of the epoch and reflect the epochal spirit.
Artists Wang Xiao, Zhang Yanzi, Yu Yu (from the left)
Artist Zhang Yanzi delivered a speech as the representative of the three artists. She thought that the creations and concepts of herself, Wang Xiao and Yu Yu were very consistent with the theme of this exhibition. Can art be restarted? In her opinion, art should be in reboot all the time. When artistic creations enter a state of inertia, we should reflect on the role and significance of creations. She hoped that their creations and the exhibition can bring a “restart” of the senses and minds to the audience and herself.
Art critic and academic director of the exhibition Sun Xin delivered a speech.
Sun Xin, an art critic and academic director of the exhibition, mentioned in her speech that the exhibition brand “New Language of Gongbi (fine brushwork)” launched by Minerva Gallery in 2020 provided a dynamic sample for the domestic art ecology. This trio exhibition ushered in a new experiment and exploration of contemporary art case studies. These three artists have a solid academic foundation and practical skills, as well as active and innovative thinking. They continue to put forward new art questions by using new perspectives, and provide a perceptual and in-depth thinking path for the development of contemporary art. In the selection of exhibition topics, prefaces, and artist works, Minerva Gallery has demonstrated professional planning and execution. She hoped that Minerva Gallery can continue to integrate the spirit of beauty into the epoch and society in the future, and further convey the vitality and wisdom of Chinese art.
Minerva (Yiqian) Zang, Director of Minerva Gallery and Curator of this exhibition, delivered a speech (via video).
In her speech, Minerva (Yiqian) Zang, Director of Minerva Gallery and Curator of this exhibition, shared her experiences of traveling to major foreign museums and art institutions because she was unable to return to her hometown due to the pandemic. First of all, the sudden outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone to connect to the world in a new form. While returning to the lonely space, the value of art and emotion is so precious. How to restart and carry on amid the changes and uncertainties caused by the pandemic, “RESTART | UNLIMITED” brought about a rethinking and restart of art ontology, technical language and modern technology, as well as the direction and method of art exhibitions. In addition to this, she emphasized that she did not specifically hold the exhibition for women, it just happened that they were all women. The three artists use their own creativity to reproduce what their senses perceive in nature, then through the soul, they represent their unique expressions of the human spiritual world. She also hoped to use this exhibition as an opportunity to discuss the current situation of creations by Chinese female artists under the cultural context of globalized cosmopolitanism since the 21st century—they are increasingly inclined to seek the “transcendence” of their inner world in their works, and they gradually derail from the simple imitation and reproduction of everyday experience.
Finally, she shared her most exciting moment when visiting a foreign art museum—she visited an exhibition of Chinese artists in Europe. She hoped to lead Minerva Gallery to build an authentic bridge between Hefei, Anhui and the global art field, so that more people can understand the splendor of Chinese contemporary art.
The opening ceremony was presided over by Tong Xiaoqin, Executive Director of Minerva Gallery.
A seminar was held after the opening ceremony to discuss issues such as female art, the transition between tradition and contemporary, the innovation of artistic language, and the academic significance of the exhibition. The seminar was chaired by Sun Xin, the academic director of the exhibition.Exhibition View
Zhang Yanzi: Pain and The Remedy
In the exhibition, The Remedy series by Zhang Yanzi depicts quite a few patterns of spiritual redemption on the familiar pain relief plasters, thus elevating medical metaphors to the level of spiritual healing, with plasters for the relief of pain becoming the remedy for the mind. In the path of “art” as “medicine”, she has tried to pursue a certain balance between the heart and the world.
The Remedy, 13cm×8cm×7pieces, Analgesic plasters, ink, Chinese painting pigments, 2022The Remedy: A Long Journey, 160cmx52cm, 80 pieces of analgesic plasters, ink wash, Chinese painting pigments, 2015The Breathable I & II (details), 5x88cm, Ink and cinnabar on gauze, 2015
The exhibition mainly selects the artist's series of works related to medicine and treatment materials, such as capsules, plasters, etc., such as The Remedy series, Excess, Mind Nature, and so on. It showcases Zhang’s contemporary thematic transformation based on traditional Chinese art, as well as her bold experiments with media and artistic language. These paintings, which ingeniously integrate ready-made images, traditional Chinese artistic language with spirituality, make these seemingly cold everyday objects achieve an impressive eternity.
Excess, Silk robe, capsules, 160×150cm, 2017
Beidao, a famous contemporary Chinese poet, likened Zhang Yanzi to a “mind healer”, and he believed that “her paintings strike a subtle balance between art and healing. She finds the source of self-salvation of the mankind with unique sensitivity of the feminine.” The healing behind “pain” and “remedy”, as a dual feeling of body and mind, comes from the artist’s personal life experience. What the artist puts into her creativity is not a cure, but a possibility to be unfolded on the road to healing.
Wang Xiao: Imagery Landscape
Wang Xiao builds metaphorical scenes of blurred time and space and hazy desires, intensifying new visual representations in the misplaced time and space, extending the thinking of physical properties with imprints, and highlighting the hesitation and speculation of individuals in complex relationships. The exhibition showcases Wang Xiao's trans-boundary integration and expansion in artistic media and language, and she gradually tends to the “unlimited” creative stage. The sequence of her works also implies that her identity has changed from simple to superimposed, and her thoughts are constantly changing and restarting.
Slightly Expressive Landscape, 70cmx110cm, Ink and color on paper, 2021
Early Spring Scroll I, 155cm×97cm, Woodblock printing(monotype) on rice paper, 2021
This gradual development shows the artist’s continuously “restarting” process, including a surrealistic metaphysical thinking on the relationship between the individual and the environment during her early years of study in the Central Academy of Fine Arts, during the stage of innovation and exploration of the ontology language of woodblock printing; while stepping into a new stage of life, she focuses on a more in-depth and subtle practice of traditional media and painting techniques alongside her busy work; it also includes her comprehensive exploration based on the artistic methods and ideological concepts she conducted during the previous two periods, her works such as Slightly Expressive Landscape that express the artist's hesitation and thinking about the current environment, and the unease and hesitation hidden in the urbanization transition period, as the artist tries to accurately describe an individual in a specific environment almost inevitably breeds a special mental state, and the truth of a certain life form is hidden in it.
Yu Yu: A Touch of Life Experience
Yu Yu removed the weft from the silk painted with images of moths and silk, destroying the completed images. This post-positioning behavior means a dissolution of human creative behavior: it is as if the silk has realized what moths have never experienced before. “Breaking the cocoon”, the imprisoned life is “released” again. Silk, which has a built-in traditional cultural context, serves as the artistic language of the ontology of the work, and together with the “moth” at the expressive level of the work, has endowed the spiritual expression and reflection with issues such as reincarnation and life.
36cm & 2mm, video derivative installation, 86x41x11cm, Oocyte retrieval needle, balloon, acrylic, 2021
Also on display is Yu Yu's new series 36cm & 2mm. In the work composed of installation and video, the oocyte retrieval needle with a thread of 36cm in length and a diameter of 2mm being suspended above the balloon, and the transparent plastic tube is carefully bent into a heart shape by the artist. The plump pink balloon is like a slowly growing oocyte. However, the seemingly quiet and beautiful atmosphere comes to an abrupt end with the popping sound and debris when the balloon hits the needle tip. The work shows the artist’s recent creative stage with more freedom in terms of materials and expressions.
Silk as Life-5, 40cm×88.5cm, Ink and color on silk, 2017Silk as Life-7, 62cm×52cm, Ink and color on silk, 2017
Undoubtedly, these three outstanding artists are in a period of a concentrated explosion of artistic energy. As important contemporary art cases, they deserve to be continuously recorded and studied. In the current external world full of anxiety and unease, “RESTART | UNLIMITED” aims to stand on the time base that carries the memories shared by countless people, and launch a basic but necessary inquiry. When we empty all the presuppositions and expectations and return to the most basic state of life, we find a simple way to return to the main body of creation, maybe we can therefore regain the subtle and broad perception of the human spiritual world.
About the artists
Zhang Yanzi was born in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province. Graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Zhang got her MFAs in both Chinese Painting and Literature. She is currently based in Beijing and she works as a Professor, Postgraduate and PhD Supervisor in Central Academy of Fine Arts.
Her solo exhibitions were held respectively at Shanghai Art Museum, Today Art Museum, PAN, Palazzo delle Arti di Napoli, Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences, Surgeons’ Hall Museum Edinburgh and Museum of East Asian Art (MEAA). Besides, her works have been included in the collections of the National Art Museum of China, M+ Museum, CAFA Art Museum, Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet and private collections.
1986 Born in Shandong Provence, China
2008-2012 Graduated from Central Academy of Fine Arts with a Master’s Degree
2012-Now Working in Chinese National Academy of Arts, Member of China Artists Association.
In 2022, she enters the Central Academy of Fine Arts to study for a doctorate in fine arts.
Her works have been included in the collections of the China Printmaking Museum, CAFA Art Museum, Zhejiang Museum, Jiangsu Museum, Heilongjiang Museum, Today Museum, Shenzhen Museum，GuanShanyue Art Museum, Jinling Museum, China Engraving Art Museum, Chengdu contemporary Museum, Shanxi Art Museum, Guangzhou Daxin Museum.
Born in Qingdao in 1989.
In 2013, she graduated from the School of Chinese Painting of the Central Academy of Fine Arts with a bachelor's degree.
In 2020, she graduated from the Chinese National Academy of Arts with a master's degree. She is currently working at the School of Literature and Art of the China Academy of Arts.
The direction of her artistic creation focuses on the contemporary transformation of traditional resources. Her works use traditional Chinese ink and wash materials to express contemporary issues. She pays attention to the meaning of the material's own characteristics to the production of creative concepts and develops her own unique expressive language and creative concept. Her artworks are active in various academic exhibitions and collected by institutions and individuals.
About Minerva Gallery
Minerva Gallery, created by Minerva (Yiqian) Zang, focuses on the international development of art and is devoted to establishing stronger connections between eastern and western art. With a complete operating system, Minerva Gallery is committed to promoting communications between domestic and foreign artists, as well as the interactions among art institutions. Through art exhibitions, academic exchanges, international programs, and public art education, the Gallery desires to become an international cultural exchange platform in the context of globalization. In addition, Minerva Gallery will help minority groups to improve their living and learning environment through public education, children's art exhibitions, and charity auction. They hope to use their gallery as a socio-cultural platform to spread more love and acceptance.
About the exhibition
Curator: Minerva (Yiqian) Zang
Academic Director: Sun Xin
Dates: 13 August – 13 October, 2022
Venue: Minerva Gallery
Courtesy of Minerva Gallery, ed. and trans. by CAFA ART INFO.