Zhang Jianjun – Scholar Rock (The Mirage Garden)

scholar rock

Zhang Jianjun – Scholar Rock (The Mirage Garden) (2008) Silicone rubber On view in Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China, Metropolitan Museum December 11, 2013–April 6, 2014

Zhang Jianjun ‘s playful Scholar Rock (Mirage Garden) is a scholar’s rock made out of pinkish purple silicone rubber. It’s a witty updating of an old form, but most surprising was just how good it looked on display in the Astor Chinese Garden Court at the Metropolitan Museum. To my eye both the sculpture and its surrounding garden brought the other more fully to life. Classic Chinese gardens are, after all, deeply crafted and controlled meditations on nature. And perhaps it makes sense that petrochemical substances are the scholar’s rocks of the 21st century. Both Jianjun’s scholar’s rock and the courtyard garden punctures the naturalizing force of the other.

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