In London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Arts (RA), a studio is quietly being infused with life, it’s blank white walls filling with ink and charcoal portraits and studies of the Academy’s many glorious historical statues.
Text: CoBo Editorial
Images: Courtesy K11 Art Foundation
Since July, Zhang Jian-Jun has been undertaking a two-month residency at the RA as part of a larger three-year programme jointly presented by the institution and K11 Art Foundation. He is the fourth artist to partake in the residency which seeks to foster artistic exchange across the two institutions and garner new opportunities for artists to engage in a global discussion. Zhang’s residency will culminate in a new body of work and a mixed-media immersive installation titled Human Traces, which will be on view to the public from 5 September through 14 September.
Human Traces follows Zhang’s ongoing artistic investigations into the nature of humankind; the many parallels and shifts, similarities and disparities that make up how we coexist. Lining the walls will be ink and charcoal portraits of people he has met in London, which will be shown alongside audio recordings of interviews Zhang conducted whereby participants from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds shared personal stories of their past and present experiences.
Alongside the portraits will be Zhang’s various studies of the Academy’s classical statues, a reference perhaps, to the common historic practice of observational sketching. Presented together, the installation becomes Zhang’s artistic interpretation of an archaeological site, where stories of the past collide, where we are asked to reflect on our present in order to ruminate about the future.
CoBo Social will have an interview with the artist upon the opening of Human Traces where we will go in-depth with the artist about his practice, his ongoing artistic enquiries and more so be sure to keep a lookout for it.
Zhang Jian-Jun Artist in Residence: Human Traces Residency Period: July – September, 2019
Residency Show at Smirke 2 Studio: 5 September – 14 September, 2019
About the Artist
Zhang Jian-Jun was born in 1955 in Shanghai. In 1978 he graduated from the Department of Fine Arts at the Shanghai Theatre Academy and subsequently, in 1986, he was appointed Shanghai Art Museum’s first director of the Curatorial and Art Research Department. Three years later, in 1989, Zhang relocated to the United States. Based between New York and Shanghai, Zhang is presently a professor at New York University Shanghai.
Zhang first began delving into abstract painting in the 1980s. Through his artistic endeavours, he seeks to express his personal perspective on humankind and the universe at large through the integrity of language. His paintings unveil a profound understanding of Chinese philosophy and culture.
About K11 Art Foundation x Royal Academy of Arts Artist-in-Residence Programme
The three-year residency programme is a partnership between K11 Art Foundation (KAF) and the Royal Academy of Arts (RA). The programme strives to foster artistic exchange across the two institutions; serving as a platform to highlight the diversity and dynamism of Chinese contemporary art while also presenting RA School graduates an opportunity to take up residency in China at one of the KAF artist villages.