Go out and listen to something…

April 1, 2007

Zhang Zongmei

Filed under: Art, China Tour 2, China — burnett @ 4:00 pm

The highlight of Moganshan Lu was my visit with Zhang Zongmei. � I walked into an unimproved space in which there were photos on the walls and more photos stacked haphazardly around the room. � I was motioned to have a seat at a tea table and was served jasmine tea by a gentleman in his mid 40’s with hair to his waist. � This was Zhang Zongmei, photographer, artist and poet. � I stayed there for the next two hours. � Zhang speaks 2 or 3 words of English, so my 300 words of Mandarin had to do. � His nephew is his assistant, and he was able to help with some English as well.� � � Zhang is a true believer and a totally committed artist. � For whatever reason, after we spoke awhile, he started shooting frames of me with his Nikon on a tripod, and overall shot a hundred or so pictures. � He showed me some elegant collaborations he had made with his musician colleagues, and their music was playing during my entire visit. � He then made two different ink drawings of me while we were chatting.� � � Zhang’s photos, like the work of Yang Fudong, are focused on the disjointed and disturbing movement from past to present. � The more superficial elements of the media focus on the sudden modernization of China, the spectacular accumulation of wealth and skyline. � These artists � do not forget colonial China, nor do they forget Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution China. Zhang’s works contain the modern and older references skillfully blended in montages. � It was my conclusion that he is not interpreting the transition, but rather leaving it to the viewer to make up his own mind. � It was more like, “How can this be?”. � I think these artists are firing a warning shot about the Chinese psyche, and by implication asking if human beings can really move into a new era such as this one and pretend the past never happened. � Zhang’s website doesn’t really tell the story, but his works can be sampled here.� � �

1 Comment

  1. […] I took my daughter Kiera to Moganshan Lu, the warehouse art district, hoping to give her an idea of the voluminous, creative,  and highly skilled world of new Chinese art.  We soon landed back at the studio of  my favorite, Zhang ZongMei.  I wrote about him before , so please see the previous entry for some important perspective.  His student Ai Lin was also in today, so we had fun catching up.  Zhang has recently returned from a tour of a community in southwest China near the Tibetan border.  He had a few hundred frames of photos from the region, ranging from stark landscapes to multiple shots of people in the villages.  These were the sort of photos that I would associate with old National Geographic articles.  The people are very rugged, live spartan lives and yet have the most colorful and attractive clothing.  Their faces are full of stories and to a large degree, sadness.  Some of the most striking were of photos inside the Buddhist temple.  These were truly remarkable and singular for numerous reasons.  The photos, taken in multiple light settings, showed several scores of Buddhist men worshipping in a temple that was a blizzard of red and gold colors.  They were clothed in heavy red garments and obviously freezing.  Zhang said the temperature was about -10C, and there was obviously no heat in this room.  Anyway, we had a lovely couple of hours in the studio, concluding with a group photo shoot in which all four of us aimed cameras at each other.  […]

    Pingback by Burnett Thompson Blog » Zhang ZongMei revisited — January 23, 2008 @ 4:35 am

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