From July 11 to August 3, “The Form of Notion” – Zhang Yu’s solo exhibition Is being held at the Guangdong Museum of Art. It presents Zhang Yu’s works made up of space, installation, video, ready-made objects, two-dimensional, and other comprehensive forms. “The Form of Notion” is the theme of the exhibition, and is divided into four topics including “Fingerprint – Ink, Ceremony”, “Fingerprint – Thinking, Living in Seclusion”, “Fingerprint – Remember, Heart Sutra”, “Fingerprint – Water, Empty”.
Mix and Match Fingerprints to Present an Idea
“Fingerprint” is an art performance for Zhang Yu, whose performance of “Fingerprint” doesn’t mean the fingerprints themselves, but extending the traditional ink painting materials to silk, film, glass, spring water, and other media. There is a mix and match fingerprint performance with images, rice paper, silk, film, glass and so on, used to constitute the media element of the work, three-dimensionally and vividly presenting the idea that he wants to express. So that the work goes beyond the simple fingerprints themselves, while the “fingerprint” also becomes a method of presenting his idea, and emphasizing the study and exploration of “methods”.
First of all, the expressive way of fingerprint is the thinking and understanding of the Oriental culture. Zhang Yu’s installation of fingerprint always emphasizes a ritual, which is composed of two parts: on the one hand a repeated pressing action makes the body directly touch the medium, when finished the experimental ritual of time and process; on the other hand it refers to fingerprints’ presented in space, having an overall relationship with the surrounding, which brings about a ritual. The two aspects of the ritual are not deliberately designed, but the expressive “method” makes the whole work integrate with the concept and ceremony of cultural practice. But the ritual of the fingerprint isn’t his expressive target yet, he hopes that through the ritual of fingerprint work to reflect the core of his thought – to present the process of fingerprint performance and spirit, attempting to with the thinking and understanding of ritual, to transform ideas into an expression of thought, in order to further focus on the topic of “being and time” which is mutually concerned with the world, expressing the experience of an individual human being with life itself.
Why isn’t any “ink” an ink experiment?
Seen as an experiment, Zhang Yu’s practice of fingerprint art has developed to “ink art searches for the new possibility of building a contemporary value in the current cultural context”, instead of restricting himself to the work itself, and involves the contemporary transformation of Chinese contemporary art and even innovation, the boundary and a series of issues. He is known as the “Terminator of Ink”, to put down the brush refers to put down the existing form and specification of the brush and ink, directly entering the requirements of expression. From “abandoning brush” to “abandoning ink”, Zhang Yu’s art has long been out of the material limit of “ink painting”. He believes that material and ink is secondary, while art is the first and foremost means of spiritual exploration, the spiritual philosophy of discussing human nature is the core of artistic expression. So the key of “ink painting” is ink spirit rather than material itself.
Therefore, consisted by more than 1000 white porcelain bowls, the exhibiting work of installation “The Ceremony of Notion” isn’t only the pursuit of the visual impact of more than 1000 porcelain bowls, but also through the form and media to present a thought on the premise of vision, and by using the visual impact to express – “ink isn’t equal to ink painting”. In a manner of speaking, “The Form of Notion – Zhang Yu” is through subjectivity filled with spiritual forms, to look for the reason of spiritual residency in current history.
A Visual Sample of Current Chinese Experimental Art
The experimental art of the exhibition is consistent with the academic orientation of Guangdong Museum of Art that is committed to actively participate in and promote the development of Chinese contemporary art. Guangdong Museum of Art has been paying attention to the historic expression of contemporary artists, while contemporary experimental ink happens to be one of the focuses of contemporary art. Zhang Yu started to be engaged in ink experiments since the period of 85 New Wave, and the experimental and humanistic spirit of the work expands the thickness of the exhibition. Guangdong Museum of Art doesn’t only present the work that artist Zhang Yu is currently doing, and the audiences also see the current expression diverted from the artist’s 30 years’ experience in ink experiments, and hope to offer a visual sample of an individual case to current Chinese experimental art.
The opening ceremony of the exhibition was held in the afternoon on July 12, while a symposium was held at the same time, with a number of honored guests invited including Gao Minglu, Huang Du, Huang Zhuan, Liu Xiaochun, Shang Hui, Qian Zhijian, Zhu Qi, Hang Chunxiao and so on who sit together and enjoy tea, commonly discussing the relationships between “tea, water, ink”. In addition, at 2:30 pm on July 13, Zhang Yu together with Zhu Qi gave a lecture entitled “The Form of Notion – Zhang Yu” at the Multi Functional Hall on the ground floor in Guangdong Museum of Art.
Translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO
Photo by Guangdong Museum of Art