Down To The River South


After the residency project in 2018, Studio Gallery is very pleased to invite artist Zhang Yi to present her first solo exhibition after her return to China "Down To The River South" in the gallery space on November 2, 2019.

Motif Of the Exhibition

“Xia Jiang Nan”(go down to the river south) is a metaphor of entering a world of the traditional Chinese literati culture and life from the northerners’ perspective. After years of staying in Europe and the United States, I took a trip to the Yangtze River area to chase my “cultural root”. What I carried with were my doubts.

As a Chinese, how do I deal with the contradictory between the imaginary attractive ancient and the troublesome brutal present. As a sculptor, I ask why do I make objects, do they create environments that carry our imagination; or the object being independent reminds us of the reality?

Found from my journey, the Wen Hengshan plant wisteria suggests potential answers to my questions. The rattan is a symbol of the literati culture at the same time it is a vivid life, a single object that travels through different contemporaries and connects the past and the present. Therefore I take the wisteria as the motif of this exhibition connects the segments of my thoughts; as well as a physical structure organizes my objects.

—— Zhang Yi, Oct.2019, at studio in Beijing  

Backgound Introduction

Wen Hengshan Hand Plant wisteria

The Garden of Zhuozheng Yuan (the humble administration garden) was built on the site of an ancient temple in Suzhou by the censor Wang Xianchen in 1527. Xianchen invited his close friend, the leading artist of Wu school, Wen Zhengming(Wen Hengshan) to design the garden and provided Wen a studio in it. At the time, Wen returned to Suzhou after an unhappy stay in Beijing for his career ambition. Wen named the garden “Humble Administration” and carefully put his naturalistic taste into the design that represents the highest traditional Chinese landscape painting aesthetic value. He planted a wisteria by his studio and painted thirty-one views of the site, each accompanied by a poem and a descriptive note. Sixteen years later, at the age of eighty-one, he painted this second album of eight views.

This garden still exists in Suzhou as one of the four best-known gardens, although centuries of renovations make it difficult to identify Wen's scenes. During the Qing dynasty, the garden was changed its style from plain simplicity to complex sophistication. In its history, the garden was divided into two and three parts then reunified in the majority. The wisteria, though, has stayed at the same location and grown luxuriantly curving in dragon-shaped for all of the centuries. It is known as "The three uniqueness of Suzhou” for the very ornamental value. A stone tablet by the wisteria was inscribed "Mr. Wenhengshan planted rattan by hand", which was written by the governor of Suzhou in the Qing Dynasty. Between the walls, there are inscriptions of "A self-made forest covered with velvet”.

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