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.Read More
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.
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).
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
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