The Dao: To Ceaselessly Grow and Multiply

Zhang Yongzheng “Process 6 – Water Disaster”, Acrylic on canvas, 195X130cm, 2010

The Dao: To Ceaselessly Grow and Multiply
Reflections on Zhang Yongzheng’s Paper-based Improvisational Works

By Luo Fei
Translated by R. Orion Martin

Author’s note: I have long been interested in Zhang Yongzheng’s creative process, and am quite familiar with the various stages of his work. We’ve also always been very good friends, but when I really began to write about his works, I still found it extremely challenging, as it is always difficult to make sense of the cryptic nature of abstract art. This is because it is not art that can be “read.” Rather, it must be “seen.” Nevertheless, I strive to use my own impressions and understandings in order to decipher it clearly, and I hope to contribute to a richer understanding of his work.

Process and Improvisation

Circles, squares, breaks, and piercing radial patterns, writing like running water, pure colors that garishly dazzle the eyes, an atmosphere of cold metaphysics, and concealed pearls of Xuanxue philosophical wisdom. These are the impressions that Zhang Yongzheng’s propylene on canvas works, begun in 2006, give me. These works possess a stunningly clear individual style, especially in the art world of Yunnan where scarcely any abstract artists are active. The canvas based works are collectively referred to as his Process series, and are differentiated by their themes such as solar cycles, four seasons, the five elements, and disasters. Zhang Yongzheng works from an amalgamation of Chinese philosophical schools called Xuanxue which includes elements of Daoism and Confucianism. He uses his spiritual and visual resources to search for an abstract form that is related to philosophy as well as contemporary experience. He assimilates the sharp contrast of Xuanxue-derived geometric forms with a kind of improvised writing. Together they bestow his works with a feeling of conflict, mystery, and universality. Continue reading