Monday, January 3, 2011

First post. Here we go.

Zhang Hongtu, "Mai Dang Lao" cast bronzes, 2002. (Click for a larger size).

I figured a good contribution would be some bronze work by one of my favorite artists, Zhang Hongtu, a Chinese artist living out of New York. Due to his location, a lot of his work is a reflection of Chinese censorship, particularly evident with his "Material Mao" collection, but he largely experiments and plays with mixing Chinese and Western styling.

This piece, "Mai Dang Lao" is my personal favorite because its a perfect mix of Bronze age Chinese aesthetic as a couple of McDonald's containers. It's based off of Chinese bronzes made in the Shang Dynasty, 1600-1046 BCE. The design on the bronzes mimic the taotie face designs common during that time.

Zhang Hongtu works with a big variety of media so I really recommend checking him out. His paintings of Chinese literati scenery in the style of Van Gogh are also humorous and very beautiful. Hopefully it will be of some sort of inspiration for you guys or at the very least be of interest.

Thanks for looking,
-Emily C.

Zhang Hongtu's site:
"Mai Dang Lao" can be found under the "Mixed Media" tab on his Gallery page.

Wikipedia's article on taotie designs:
Wikipedia's article on the Shang Dynasty:


  1. I'm amazed by the number of mediums he skillfully works with. I feel that my lack of Chinese knowledge, both past and present, effects my ability to understand his work. A meaning for some pieces is more accessible than others, including the one pictured here. I think my favorite is "Great Wall" in the category Other Work. I can appreciate the depiction of openness in a society that seems, at least from my limited perspective, to be closed by those in power.

    From his sculptures, "Flying Blues" in the category Mixed Media is fascinating. For the first few seconds I saw the suspended objects as birds, but they are feathers! I'm not sure if this is an isolated case, but the trick of perception (at least at low resolution) helps for the piece to change and unfold while being viewed. It holds my interest, which I find is an important quality in art.

    There is a word that escapes me, but this piece remind me of it, where a work is created from a repetition of many of the same object. Perhaps someone can think of it and elaborate.

    The suspension of the feathers above a circular sky (made of sand) gives the impression of flying. It also causes me to think of a mandala, but significantly less in detail. If that is what he was alluding to, and it may be given his work with Asian themes, I would have liked to see more imagery typically associated with a mandala.

    Hopefully this helps to start discussion :)

  2. Thanks- this is a great way to educate each other!