Zhang Yanzi — Excess

ORA-ORA AT ART BASEL HONG KONG 2020 ONLINE VIEWING ROOMS
April 6, 2020
Zhang Yanzi — Excess
Ora-Ora is pleased to announce our participation in Art Basel’s first iteration of Online Viewing Rooms, a new digital platform designed to connect galleries and collectors from around the world.
 
At Art Basel in Hong Kong, Ora-Ora will reject the siren conspiracy of past and future, joined together to weaken our grip on the present. We turn instead to the real, the overlooked, the underrated: the now. Our best course of action is to live a full, unlimited life today. In so doing, we sing in unison with our ancestors: 來世不可待,往世不可追也  (“Don’t chase the past. Don’t chase the future either”). The words of Warring States philosopher Zhuangzi in his Ren Jian Shi came in the midst of strife, conflict and starvation. The urgent message of life’s precariousness and fragility served both as a chilling necessity and a practically applicable philosophy.
 
Ora-Ora will regularly introduce some of our exhibiting artists along with their artwork highlights. This time, we present contemporary artist Zhang Yanzi with her sculpture, Excess (2017).

 


 

 

 Image: Zhang Yanzi, Excess, 2017 (image courtesy of Ora-Ora and Betty Bhandari)

 

Ora-Ora will regularly introduce some of our exhibiting artists along with their artwork highlights. This time, we present contemporary artist Zhang Yanzi with her sculpture, Excess (2017).

 

Zhang Yanzi’s synthesis of Chinese philosophies on healing with the tools of western medicine presents a starting point for medically-curious visitors to begin a journey of discovery into medicine that lies beyond the western experience.

 

As medicine begins to use art as a form of healing, we plan for the display to provide a form of mental refreshment for the visitor, and believe that the fundamental humanity of the artist’s philosophy is one that will have the broadest possible appeal to the audience.

 

 

 Image: Zhang Yanzi, Excess (partial), 2017 (image courtesy of Ora-Ora and the artist)

 

Capsules are a symbol of modern medicine, an image related to health and illness. W e have come to rely on capsules to cure sickness and to maintain wellness. In Excess, Zhang Yanzi celebrates the pills as life’s everyday protector against the forces of illness. Although intrinsically a modern shape, when covered over a robe, they appear like the armour of the First Emperor’s terracotta warriors, which also protected the human body against harms.

 

 Image: "A Quest for Wellness" at the MEAA  (image courtesy of Ora-Ora and Betty Bhandari)

 

In 2018, Zhang showed this work for the first time during her solo exhibition "A Quest for Wellness" at the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath, United Kingdom.  

 

In this exhibition,  Zhang explored our common frailties and shared humanity, investigating the nature and meaning of wellness in China, its history, and its modern counterpoints from a Chinese perspective.

 

For Zhang, wellness is a quest for mental and physical reassurance. From boiling herbal ingredients for an infused concoction of warmth, to drawing spiritual solace from the mysteries of the universe, our search for wellness requires medicine to be active rather than reactive.

 

In the modern world, as we embrace the scientific distillation of medical wisdom into pills, so too do these pills give us a feeling of reassurance and calm. They become our contemporary recourse to remedy and fulfil our need for wellness.

 

 Image: "A Quest for Wellness" at the MEAA  (image courtesy of Ora-Ora and Betty Bhandari)

 


 

About Zhang Yanzi

Zhang Yanzi (b. 1967) lives in Beijing and serves as a Professor of the Central Academy of Fine Arts and the Editor-in-Chief of CAFA Art Info. Graduating from the prestigious Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in 2007, Zhang devoted herself to traditional calligraphy and landscapes, for which she continues to win great acclaim. In 2010, she recalled the peaceful familiarity of the medical apparatus of her childhood; and began to depict medicine in her art. The Artist’s work may be seen at the National Art Museum of China, the Jiangsu Provincial Art Museum, the CAFA Art Museum, L’Universita degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale,” the Audemars Piguet Museum among others. In 2018, she held two six month solo shows in the UK, one at the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath, and the other at the Surgeon’s Hall Museum in Edinburgh, Scotland.

 

 Image: Artist Zhang Yanzi (image courtesy of Ora-Ora and the artist)