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Zhang Jian£ºConcealed in Love

Zhang Jian <Peach No.2>

Chinese traditional ink painting is a composite art, related to calligraphy and, through calligraphy, to traditional poetry. This intrinsic relationship is undersored by the work of Zhang Jian in this show. Born In Nanjing in 1972, Zhang Jian graduated, like his wife -Gao Qian-from the Academy of Fine Arts. In 2008 he was awarded his PhD by the China Academy of Art (Hangzhou). He has exhibited widely in China and Taiwan, as well as in Japan, South Korea, the USA, Australia and Eroupe. Zhang Jian's major work in this show is a folio of paintings on silk titled Concealed in Love (Cang Chun Ce),which could alternatively be translated Concealed by Spring. The works in this folio are highly erotic evocation of the female body, at times sacntily clad, and other times draped in gossamer silk, yet concealed within the paintings. Not only is the identity of the protagonist concealed but the scenes are rendered with a technique that borders on abstraction. This is in keeping with Zhang Jian's view that a successful gongbi work must give an impression of evoking a sense of illusory, the reality of a gongbi work is uncovincing. In line with this principle, Zhang Jian conceals the images of his female protagonist beneath sharply delineated springs of red blossoms that frame each work and ostentatiously occupy the foreground. The blossoms signal the coming of spring, the season of love and rebirth; the peach blossom is a long-standing image of erotic louve in Chinese traditional culture. The blossoms seek to  grab our attention with their oddly angular forms, and divert our gaze away from the subtle pink, white, and grey forms "concealed " in the background. The "concealed " figures are sinuous female forms that seem to blend into a network of roots and branches that resemble torsos, hands , arms, and legs. The pale tones and this intricate scrolling line-work reminiscent of the omate filigree that characterizes art nouveau floral design are used by Zhang jian to "conceal " his subject, at the same times as the line-work reinforces the sensuousness of the female forms. In the calligraphic preface of the folio Concealed in Love, dated 2014, we are reminded that calligraphy, potery, and painting are all art created by the Chinese brush and are part of a shared cultural stream. In the preface Zhang Jian writes:"Concentration on the indirect ways of transcending natural limits is one og the finest qualities of the Chinese cultural tradition; the deeper we go, the more all-encompassing is nature's poetic meaning". In the preface Gao Jian evokes an unconventional Chinse poetic tradition extending back to Song Yu(c.319-298BC), himself a romantic figure, and the lyric poetry known as ci written by such eminenti poets as Sun Guangxian(d.968),part of the Huajian Pai (Among Flowers School). Yet despite these appeals to tradition, in this folio Zhang Jian brings together Chinese and Western techniques of abstraction. His subject is utterly contemporary, yet unconventional like the poetic tradition that he outlines. 

Zhang Jian <Peach No.4>