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K11 Art Foundation Presents in Partnership with the Royal Academy of Arts Exhibition Zhang Jian-Jun: Human Traces Debut in Shanghai

March 22, 2021 Attraction No Comments Email Email

K11 Art Foundation (KAF) is thrilled to collaborate with Royal Academy of Arts to launch Zhang Jian-Jun: Human Traces, a return exhibition that shows the fruition of the Artist-in-Residence Programme, co-presented by KAF and London’s Royal Academy of Arts (RA). It also marks the artist’s inaugural travelling exhibition which will be on tour in Shanghai, to Shenyang and lastly to Hong Kong from March to November this year, allowing audiences to encounter important Chinese contemporary artistic practices and affirming its growing international presence in the world.

As a pioneer of Chinese abstract art and figuration, Zhang has been expanding his artistic explorations with his oeuvre consistently combining the three core concepts in art history—the interaction between nature and humans, the traces people leave behind over the course of time, and the relationship between traditional and modern living.

In 2019, Zhang embarked on a two-month residency at RA Schools, the postgraduate school of art within the Royal Academy, as the fourth artist taking part in the three-year Artist-in-Residence Programme. The residency culminated in the creation of a new mixed-media installation—Human Traces—that manifests Zhang’s ongoing artistic enquiry into humankind.

Curated by renowned Chinese scholar Wu Hung, the return exhibition Zhang Jian-Jun: Human Traces reflects the artist’s latest musings on the eternal themes of human beings, nature, and time. The exhibition includes three interconnected and interactive parts, all of which revolve around the three topics and how they evolve throughout the past, present, and future.

The first part responds to and renews Zhang’s 2019 Human Traces exhibition in London. Works created over Zhang’s two months spent in London with the RA Schools, including beautifully moving ink and charcoal portraits of people he met during his visit, are presented in fresh light alongside new works. These contemporary figures of different ethnicities and identities are depicted in contrast with sculptures from diverse cultures, inspiring viewers to ponder the connections among people from different eras and/or various cultural backgrounds.

Surrounded and confronted by one’s own reflections, the second part comprises a corridor of mirrors that offers an immersive experience and encourages all to reflect on their identities while seeing themselves at every conceivable angle. The illusionistic path will then lead the viewers to the epilogue which consists of an interactive space that provokes further self-exploration.

Since the 1980s, Zhang’s work has been focusing on the balance between inner metaphysical thought and the outward survey of human society. Complementing Human Traces, four early artworks of Zhang from the Existence-Noumenon (「有」) series will also be featured, allowing the audience to revisit his artistic practice and continuity throughout the decades.

Zhang expressed, ‘I am very grateful for the opportunity to present my work in Shanghai, Shenyang and Hong Kong. Situating the installations in different regions allows conversations and connections with the viewers. I hope the audience will be inspired to see how humanity might exist beyond cultural differences.’

Delivering KAF’s mission in promoting Chinese contemporary art, the long-term collaborations between KAF and RA have fostered an exchange of artistic practice with Chinese artists invited to work in London to highlight the diversity and dynamism of Chinese contemporary art and for RA Schools graduates to take up residency in China. Zhang Jian-Jun: Human Traces marks a poetic rite of passage that demonstrates the dedication of KAF in providing opportunity to artists to engage with new and international audiences.

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