Auction | China Guardian (HK) Auctions Co., Ltd.
2019 Autumn Auctions
Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art

Zhan Wang (b.1962)
Artificial Rock Series(Executed in 2005)

Stainless Steel Sculpture Edition: 3/4

170 x 120 x 60 cm.(雕塑)67 x 47 1/4 x 23 5/8 in. 51 x 110.5 x 54.7 cm.(底座)20 x 43 1/2 x 21 1/2 in.

Signed in Chinese and pinyin, dated and numbered on the bottom of the backside
7 Oct 2007, Sotheby's Hong Kong Autumn Auction, Lot 715
Important Private Collection, Asia

A Bespoken Sculpture Without Carving
Zhan Wang's Artificial Rock in Contemporary Age

The ancients often placed strangely shaped stones in their courtyards and dubbed them “artificial rocks”, their role to simulate natural mountains and rocks in artificial landscapes, the creation of which formed a part of Chinese aesthetic tradition, yet artist Zhan Wang believes that modern people also want to preserve the beauty of nature for all time. Therefore, the artist used stainless steel to create Lake Tai Rock, which is not only a symbol of natural landscape, but also a piece of art that can, in a broad sense, “enter” contemporary life. The significance of this kind of work is similar to Marcel Duchamp's Fountain.

The Artificial Rock series is Zhan's most prestigious work and has entered the collections of more than 30 world-class art galleries or museums, such as the British Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Due to this series, Zhan became the first Chinese contemporary sculptor whose works entered permanent exhibition within the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The piece belonging to the Artificial Rock series featured in this auction was created in 2005. It is impressive and beautiful, as it embodies the modern human desire to recreate nature.

A Rock Embodying the Whole World
Zhan's process of creating artificial rocks is nothing short of complicated. At first, he had to find a suitable stone at Lake Tai (or Taihu), afterward covering it with sheets of stainless steel which had to be repeatedly beaten until they completely replicated the texture and shape of stone. The stainless steel pieces were then welded together to form a complete “rock” and then polished until they shone. A smooth, mirror-like surface reflects the changing environment around it, as if containing the whole world inside. This work fully mimics the appearance of the original Lake Tai stone, notable for having all the characteristics desired by ancient Chinese aesthetics — the head resembling a cloud, the feet tiny and small, and the waist slender and thin. This work features four holes in total, which make it even more striking and allow viewers to have a different visual experience depending on the angle of viewing.

Re-creating Nature in Urban Life
The method with which the Artificial Rock series came into being is similar to the way famous British artist Anish Kapoor created his Sky Mirror, but Artificial Rock is deeply rooted in the aesthetic tradition of ancient Chinese gardens. Based on the aesthetic concept of “re-creating nature”, the artist utilized modern media to introduce artificial rocks to the present-day urban environment. The smooth reflective surface echoes contemporary everyday life, creating a post-modern visual experience. Today, there are fewer and fewer rocks at Lake Tai, yet the willingness to preserve the beauty of nature for all time is in on a sharp upward trend. Zhan Wang's work is a link between natural landscapes and modern urban life. On the one hand, it reflects the surrounding environment and viewers themselves; on the other, it reminds them of the beauty of the world, embodying the eternal human essence yearning for nature.

Price estimate:
HKD: 1,500,000 – 2,500,000
USD: 191,300 – 318,800

Auction Result:
HKD: --



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