2024.03.17 - 2024.06.30

Jiang Zhi: Life

Aranya Art Center is pleased to present Life, a solo exhibition by Chinese artist Jiang Zhi, which surveys more than thirty works from 1997 to the present day. The exhibition includes seven recent works that will be on view for the first time and three newly commissioned pieces.


Since the early days of his career in the 1990s, Jiang Zhi has focused his lens on everyday life. His first video work, Fly, Fly (1997), meticulously captures a resident’s silhouettes and the interiors of her home during times of economic transformation. In Fade (2016-2017), he reproduced a series of home furnishings imprinted with epochal visual characteristics, representing the imagination of one or two generations for a wonderful life. As much as the "wonderful" may seem cliché, Jiang Zhi discovered the wonders in the conventional and their meanings early in his artistic practice. Seeing through the blindfold of these words, Jiang tries to hold on to the values of life abandoned in the contemporary world.

We long for life’s generosity, fear the bitterness of her impermanence and realizations in her name. Even the most erudite and wise know comparatively little about life. Using Life as the exhibition title does not suggest an escape from daily routines, but instead reveals bits and pieces of everyday life from which to discover new possibilities within. The artwork titles in the show resonate with the grand theme: Speedy Life (2004) is a video that captures an illegible diary; If by Life You Were Deceived (2024) floats above the Aranya Art Center's Atrium in a celebratory fashion. Other works draw directly from everyday life, including one in which the artist flushes words in airplanes’ bathrooms mid-flights; his decision to "work" at a bank for a period; his videos of fireworks in his residential compound during Chinese New Year. Yet, Life does not only include glamorous and glittering moments, but also what takes place in the shadows, the lost ones, and the untold stories, as in the obscured piece Alive (2013).

The writer George Eliot considered art to be the nearest thing to life; it is a mode of amplifying experience and extending our contact with our fellow men beyond the bounds of our personal lot. Jiang Zhi subtly captures the various ongoing aspects of life amid its trials and tribulations. These works concern forgiveness, drawing inspiration from others, the notion of time and one’s resistance to it, as well as how to save love from dying. Jiang Zhi's art practice is at once elegant and down to earth, passionate and serene, profound and simple, subtle and forthright.

The works in the exhibition Life retain the complexity of their contexts, presenting a gentle and colloquial texture. The unique exhibition space at Aranya Art Center will allow the works in the different galleries to connect and resonate with one another. The recurring elements in this exhibition and its rhythmic ebb and flow aim to mimic RIFF (Repeated Interval Functions) in music theory, marking an inevitable outcome from the artist's continuous practice, which reflect the notions of extension and repetition. The artist consistently discovers and regenerates themes and forms from his works of art.

During the exhibition, Jiang Zhi looks forward to collaborating with the audience, encouraging visitors to whistle on a leaf and take the work Name (2024) with them to their future destinations; they anticipate an embodied presence, to fill in the long waited absence in A Peace Unsettled (2013); in the meditation room, visitors may respond to apologetic voices from their hearts; or read the comforting words suspended in the air as they look upwards.

This exhibition is organized by Wenjie Sun, guest curator and Jiang Ruoyu, curatorial assistant at Aranya Art Center.

Installation Views

About Artists

Jiang Zhi

Born in 1971 in Yuanjiang, Hunan, China, Jiang Zhi graduated from China Academy of Art in 1995. As one of the most versatile Chinese artists of his generation, Jiang Zhi has had two major solo retrospectives at OCAT Shenzhen (2016) and Times Museum in Guangzhou (2012). His work has also been exhibited by international institutions and biennials, including Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World (Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA, 2017), the 9th Shanghai Biennial (Shanghai Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China, 2012), the 4th Guangzhou Triennial (Guangdong Art Museum, Guangzhou, China, 2012), The First Today’s Documents (Beijing Today Art Museum, 2007), Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China (ICP and Asia Society, New York, USA, 2004), Zone of Urgency, the 50th Biennale di Venezia (Venice, Italy, 2003), and the 4th Gwangju Biennale (Gwangju, South Korea, 2002). Jiang was awarded the Chinese Contemporary Art Award (CCAA) in 2000, the Academic Award of Reshaping History ("Chinart" from 2000 to 2009) in 2010, and the Credit Suisse Today Art Award in 2012.

About Curators

Wenjie Sun

Wenjie Sun is a curator that holds a BA in Arts Administration from the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) and an MFA in Curating from Goldsmiths College, University of London. Since 2018, she has been a guest lecturer at the School of Design and the Institute of Arts Administration and Education of the CAFA. Sun was a participant in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) in 2023. She joined the Red Brick Art Museum in 2016 and served as the Head of Exhibitions from 2017 to 2023. In this role, she initiated and oversaw various projects involving exhibitions, publications, collections, and external partnerships with diverse institutions and individuals.

Sun was one of the curators of the second Bangkok Art Biennale Escape Routes in 2020. She has curated exhibition projects independently for art awards, foundations, museums, galleries, art fairs, and other organizations. In addition to promoting the academic publishing of the Red Brick Art Museum, she has been involved in the translation and publication of the Chinese edition of A Companion to Contemporary Art Since 1945 (2021), and she has written for artist Christian Jankowski's catalog, as well as for a number of art publications.