b. 1954, China

Zhu Jinshi Biography

Zhu Jinshi is a pioneering figure of Chinese abstract painting and installation art. The Beijing-based artist paints colourful abstractions evocative of German Expressionism, with highly sculptural surfaces of densely applied oil paint.

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Coming of age in Beijing during the Cultural Revolution, which was strictly dominated by the state-sanctioned Socialist Realist style, Zhu Jinshi had no initial formal artistic training. Nonetheless, by the 1980s he was experimenting with abstract painting. He was a member of the short-lived but influential Stars Group, which comprised self-taught Chinese avantgardes. He took part in the group's seminal street exhibition outside the National Art Museum in Beijing in 1979.

After the group was forcibly disbanded, Zhu Jinshi, like many fellow Chinese artists, migrated to Europe. Undertaking a German Academic Exchange Service residency in Berlin in 1988, the artist immersed himself in European avantgarde art and theory. He found early influence in the works of Immanuel Kant, Wassily Kandinsky, and Cy Twombly. The work of the German Expressionists also had a strong influence on his painting.

During his time in Berlin—from 1986 to 1994—Zhu Jinshi began to experiment with performance, installation, and conceptual art. Into these works he incorporated traditional Chinese materials, such as bamboo and rice paper, and objects like teapots. Works like Zhu Jinshi's Boat (2012) demonstrate a continuity with his early approach. The suspended walk-in installation consists of cotton, bamboo and 8,000 sheets of rice paper, complexly folded and layered to create a 12-metre cylindrical tunnel.

Zhu Jinshi's paintings—the work at the core of his Beijing-based practice today—reflect European Expressionist influences. Though often varying in scale and palette they are always painted in thick impasto, caked onto the canvas like tar or cement in complementary lashings of colour. A highly physical process, the artist utilises spatulas, brooms, and shovels to push, pull, and scrape oil paint across the painting's surface.

In some works, Zhu Jinshi's bold textures and expressive bodies of colour collide and contrast across the whole canvas. Zhu Jinshi's 'Liubai' ('to leave blank') works, on the other hand, contrast dabs of paint against large areas of bare canvas—an equilibrium inspired by aesthetics of traditional Chinese ink painting.

Zhu Jinshi paintings and installations have been exhibited internationally in fairs, biennials, and gallery exhibitions. His work can be found in major collections across the globe, including in the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Busan Museum of Art; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, Seoul; and the Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou.

Zhu Jinshi Solo Exhibitions include:

Wood · Character, Fusion Art Center, Beijing (2020); The Ship of Time, Tang Contemporary Art, Beijing (2018); Zhu Jinshi, Yuan Art Museum, Beijing (2016); Performance in Paint, Inside-Out Art Museum, Beijing (2015); Zhu Jinshi, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles (2012); On the Road, The City of Prague Museum (2002); Tao of Rice Paper, Vancouver Art Gallery (1997); Houhai Lake art project, Beijing (1995).

Zhu Jinshi Group Exhibitions include:

The Scar, Busan Museum of Art (2020); The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2019); Painting and Existing, Tang Contemporary Art, Hong Kong (2019); Ruin Painting, Today Art Museum, Beijing (2006); Guangzhou Triennial (2002); The 2nd Xing Xing (Star) Exhibition, National Museum of China, Beijing (1980); The 1st Xing Xing (Star) Exhibition, Beihai Park, Beijing (1979).

Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2020

Zhu Jinshi
featured artworks

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A Hundred Flowers Contended in Beauty by Zhu Jinshi contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Zhu Jinshi A Hundred Flowers Contended in Beauty, 2015 Oil on canvas
180 x 160 cm
Pearl Lam Galleries Contact Gallery
Subduing the Eastern Wind by Zhu Jinshi contemporary artwork painting
Zhu Jinshi Subduing the Eastern Wind, 2022 Oil on canvas
40 x 35 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Enquire
Insects Wake by Zhu Jinshi contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Zhu Jinshi Insects Wake, 2018 Oil on canvas
181 x 161.3 x 14.6 cm
Blum & Poe Contact Gallery
Shentanlanyan Temple by Zhu Jinshi contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Zhu Jinshi Shentanlanyan Temple, 2021 Oil on canvas
50 x 45 cm
Pearl Lam Galleries Contact Gallery
Martial Arts Training by Zhu Jinshi contemporary artwork painting
Zhu Jinshi Martial Arts Training, 2014 Oil on canvas
160 x 140 cm
Almine Rech Contact Gallery
Such a Master by Zhu Jinshi contemporary artwork painting
Zhu Jinshi Such a Master, 2015 Oil on canvas
180 x 160 cm
Pearl Lam Galleries Contact Gallery
Venus Encroaching on the Sun by Zhu Jinshi contemporary artwork painting
Zhu Jinshi Venus Encroaching on the Sun Oil on canvas
100 x 80 cm
Not for sale
Duddell's
Work by Zhu Jinshi contemporary artwork sculpture
Zhu Jinshi Work, 2014 Ink on Xuan paper
Variable dimensions
Pearl Lam Galleries Contact Gallery
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Zhu Jinshi
recent exhibitions

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Zhu Jinshi
represented by

Blum & Poe contemporary art gallery in Tokyo, Japan
Blum & Poe Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo
Pearl Lam Galleries contemporary art gallery in Pedder Street, Hong Kong
Pearl Lam Galleries Hong Kong, Shanghai
Tang Contemporary Art contemporary art gallery in Beijing, China
Tang Contemporary Art Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul
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