Mai 36 Galerie presents the first solo exhibition of artist Zang Kunkun (*1986 in Qingdao, China) with the gallery and the first solo exhibition outside of China. The show, comprising of works from 2015-2017, spans all floors, including the newly opened space above the gallery on the first and second floor.
Despite his tender age, Zang has been artistically productive even before his admission to the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts in 2004. Soon after graduating, renowned art critics, such as Zhuzhu and Lu Mingjun, wrote about his works, noticing that the style as well as the content strongly differed from a mainstream, a safe(r) direction many new artists first moved towards as a phenomenon posed by a young contemporary art scene in China.
At first glance, it is perhaps Zang’s painstakingly meticulous way of planing and executing each single step of his work rather than a signature style to his name that holds his oeuvre together. Indeed, the artist prefers working sequentially rather than serially, leading to a spectrum of visually different work groups existing at once. However, his conceptual approach that contains a deep artistic revelation, his unconventional perspective and use of materials, and the technique of continuously editing his works until they reach his standard of perfection, form an overall theme that leave his works with his fingerprint. Thus, each work could be looked at as a coherent object in itself and, simultaneously, as a meaningful link in the whole context.
Zang has never foremost identified himself as a Chinese artist, but always simply as an artist. Accordingly, his artistic expression is a universal one, enabling an easy access to appreciating his work. Yet the material he uses and the motifs he reflects upon are mostly typical for his surrounding in Beijing, China. Since what he finds and includes are mostly industrial materials, such as aluminum, bricks, ropes, wood, leather and sandpaper amongst others, he documents the state of a build-up nation and the people being engulfed by it. At the same time he wants to question everything. On a philosophical and societal level it is the state of man in a fast-paced world, experiencing the pressure of his own doing and having to live in his self-created anthropogenic world. On a material-related level, it is the rigid definitions of traditional media, such as paintings and sculptures, that he breaks through by subtly and satirically altering their forms and, consequentially, challenges our understanding thereof. He calculates and draws, he paints and moulds, he mounts and assembles, he screws and pastes. As a result, he does not want the beholder to categorise what he sees or feels. It is precisely here where the ambitions of Zang lie; maintaining the power to imagine and control.