Zhan Wang: 小宇宙 My Universe

Zhan Wang, a leading figure in contemporary sculpture literally breaks new ground at STPI. Wielding a Herculean sledgehammer, he smashes boulders of rocks into an explosive spectrum of rocky debris flying across the studio floor. Zhan’s new body of work “Universe” created in collaboration with STPI, reimagines humanity’s fascination of the Big Bang Theory, where in an inexplicable moment, a tiny dense state expanded majestically into a colossal cosmic plane.

Zhan’s shattered rocks are recreated into celestial, metallic rock clusters assembled on paper slabs made with mineral silt, recalling surreal, arid landscapes of distant planets, customarily depicted in science fiction. Zhan’s deconstructions mark a dramatic shift in his conceptual explorations of traditional Chinese ‘scholar’s rocks’, believed to be prehistoric entities of pure qi, or vital energy.

To accomplish the artist’s grand cosmic vision, STPI’s workshop expertise pushed beyond their limits in an intensive array of artistic production. Up to 20,000 stone fragments right down to minuscule specks were measured and reproduced in the original likeness, as synthetic rocks coated in metallic chrome. These pieces were meticulously assembled onto STPI handmade paper or highly polished mirrors to replicate the complex matrix of obliterated rocks captured in photo documentation.

All remnants of the original rocks were pounded by hand into fine sediment and mixed with cotton pulp to produce a solid paper base, which reveals the natural mineral pigments of clay, slate and granite. The use of mirrors as an alternative base, adds a three-dimensional twist to the visual plane where metallic rock mass seem to float in space and superimpose viewers’ reflections on the artwork.

Zhan Wang’s creative collaboration with STPI brings fresh insights into the artist’s practice in fascinating paradoxes of emulating natural phenomena, solidifying moments of flux and reimagining the origins of time to envision new creative possibilities,” Emi Eu, Director of STPI.

Constantly pushing the envelope with unconventional ideas, Zhan Wang has scaled Mount Everest to put a metal rock sculpture at its summit, set adrift a hollow mountain in the ocean, tried to launch a stainless steel “meteorite” into space and recently detonated a large boulder in mid air for “My Personal Universe”, an installation of 7,000 suspended stones replicating a moment of stillness in its explosion.