Contemporary artist Zhang Zhanzhan’s healing creations

Considered one of China’s most talented contemporary artists, Zhang Zhanzhan is known for his human portraits and animal sculptures, especially his red bear series.

“While many people haven’t heard of Zhang Zhanzhan before, they have seen his bear, the red bear,” said Serena Zhao, founder of ArtDepot Gallery. “Some think having one of Zhang’s bear sculptures in their home will bring happiness. His fans span a wide range, from two- or three-year-old kindergarten children to 50 or 60-year-old women. He’s especially popular among male fans who were born in the 1980s or 1990s.”

Visitor Hou Shiwei at the exhibits. /CGTN


Visitor Hou Shiwei at the exhibits.

Born in the 1980s, gallery visitor Hou Shiwei is a typical fan. Looking in on Zhang’s latest solo exhibition at Beijing’s ArtDepot, he was immediately attracted by the exhibits.

“Many of his works remind me of my own experiences,” said Hou. “The background of many of his works is black, and the main characters are painted bright red, highlighting the inner feelings of the figures, with the background featuring a particularly dark process. Murakami Haruki once said when you come out of a storm, you won’t be the same person as the one who walked in. This was what I was thinking when I was viewing Zhang’s paintings.”

While majoring in sculpture at the Nanjing University of the Arts, Zhang dedicated much of his early professional career to finding his distinctive creative style.

“I think everybody is lonely,” the artist said. “Some of us may not know it. I try to depict the emotions people have: loneliness, pain, happiness, and joy. Everyone feels some of these, more or less. I hope to express such common feelings.”


“My Ocean” by Zhang Zhanzhan.

His efforts have paid off, with many saying his works bring them great comfort and healing.

“When I was out there, a cloud drifted past, allowing the sunlight to reflect on that rabbit sculpture,” said one visitor. “It looked like it was quietly contemplating, and that scene touched me. I think great artists catch viewers immediately with their own language or other details.”

Although Zhang’s works are mainly popular among young people, they are not simply categorized as fashion art, according to Serena Zhao. “Last year, at an art gallery academic seminar, we discussed whether Zhang Zhanzhan’s works belong to fashion art or contemporary art. The fans of contemporary art are supposed to be a smaller group, including private collectors. And fashion art is more popular and accessible to everyone. We agreed that Zhang Zhanzhan is influential in both areas.”


“Heart” by Zhang Zhanzhan.

In recent years Zhang has created a number of pieces of public art. Many of them have become city landmarks. He hopes viewers can interact with his outdoor installations. That way, his art will bring happiness and comfort to the public.

Post time: Jan-12-2023