April 11, 2008 - National Art Museum of China - Garden Utopia: Zhan Wang
April 11, 2008

Garden Utopia: Zhan Wang

Zhan Wang
Garden Utopia
Curator Fan Di’an
Co-curator Huang Du
Exhibition advisor Hseih Suchen
Co-organized by Long March Space
May 11 – May 21, 2008
Opening reception: Saturday May 11, 2008 3pm – 6pm


The National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) is proud to present “Garden Utopia”, an exhibition showcasing over fifty works by acclaimed Chinese artist Zhan Wang. “Garden Utopia” is part of a series of major exhibitions to be held at the NAMOC as part of a series of cultural events leading up to the Olympics.

Over the past decade, Zhan Wang’s predominant sculptural practice has taken place in tandem with an exploration of installation, performance, and video. By examining the relationship between material, technique and theory, Zhan Wang has developed a language of “conceptual sculpture” that overturns the traditional understanding of sculpture in China to explore the meaning of three-dimensional space in relationship to the phenomenon of installation art, an idea evidenced in his stainless steel “Artificial Rock” series. At the same time, Zhan Wang has used his “sculptures” to engage a broader social consciousness through public works, such as “Inlay the Great Wall”, “12 Nautical Miles”, “Mt. Everest”, and “New Plan to Fill the Sky”, expanding upon the idea of how art can engage with public space and the community.

“Garden Utopia” articulates the traditional perspective of a Chinese garden as a space for contemplation, a borderland between reality and fantasy to escape the trappings of the modern world and reconnect humanity with nature. It is this traditional aesthetic that Zhan Wang situates against a violently changing Chinese society, his works examining the tensions between landscape and industrialization, tradition and modernity. This is reflected in the stainless steel “Artificial Rock” series, which forms the core of this exhibition. Since 1995, the artist has been creating artificial replicas of “scholar’s rocks” (jiashanshi) by pounding, molding and bending stainless steel around the surface of particular rocks. After the steel has been shaped, it is welded together to form a single hollow sculpture, seamlessly merging a traditional literati object with a distinctly modern material.

The installation and photographic series “Urban Landscape” presents a contemporary garden. From an elevated periphery, taking in the spectacle from stadium style seating, the audience peers at a topographic model of Beijing’s landscape composed of reflective stainless steel kitchenware. As opposed to seeking a relationship with nature, this landscape is animated by a lust for materialism.

Another major component of this exhibition is “Deity Medicine”, a nondescript stainless steel pill – the silver bullet of modern society’s malaise. Commenting on the material solution to a spiritual complex in contemporary life, and its adherence to a new religion of technology and science, the reflective surface of the pill refuses to divulge its contents. In this exhibition, the viewer can carryout their own soul searching by tapping into one of the conveniently located “Deity Search Engines”. Aided by modern technology, viewers scroll through a carefully documented list of all known deities in the world. The interconnected terminals allow viewers to add information about non-listed deities, as well as access what others have uploaded.

Through the blending of reality into artifice, artifice into reality, this exhibition references the contemporary spaces we inhabit, presenting utopia as finite and concrete, as well as infinitely mutable and ephemeral.

The conference “Sculptural Intervention” will be held in conjunction with this exhibition. This one-day conference will explore new possibilities and definitions for “sculpture” as a medium that informs and engages other material explorations of the social condition. Zhan Wang will also initiate a new month-long project, “86 Divinity Figures” starting May 13 at Long March Space, Beijing.

National Art Museum of China
1 Wusi Dajie, East District, Beijing, China, 100010
9:00 am – 5 pm (No Entry after 4:00 p.m.)


Long March Space
4 Jiuxianqiao Rd (Factory 798), Beijing China 100015
Tues-Sun 11:00 am – 7:00 pm

Press contact:
Garden Utopia Project Office
c/o Long March Space
Tel +86 10 6438 7107
Fax +86 10 6432 3834

National Art Museum of China

National Art Museum of China
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