Zhan Wang

(b. 1962, Beijing)
Born in Beijing in 1962, Zhan Wang is one of the most commercially successful conceptual sculptors in China. Zhan's art education started at an early age with his grandfather who taught him brush painting and his uncle who taught him sketching. As an art student majoring in sculpture at the China Central Academy of Fine Art, Zhan spent his entire college years in the atmosphere of the 85 New-Wave Movement.

He is known for being a contemporary Chinese sculptor; however, he is also known in other art forms such as installations, photography and video. His pieces consist of conceptual ideas where he "embraces and subverts several other major traditions in modern art, both Chinese and Euro-American." Many of his works include the use of simplistic objects that serve a purpose of telling a complex idea, and many of his ideas pertain to Chinese culture.

Zhan began creating in 1995 a series of abstract forms coated in chrome which he calls floating stones or artificial rocks. They are representations of the scholar rocks in Chinese culture. The scholar rocks are ornamental rocks that hold a high value as they are believed to possess qi or vital energy, and are collected as objects of art and tools of meditation.

Zhan has exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide including Spain, Italy, China, Turkey, USA, Singapore, Taiwan, Australia, Switzerland, France, Austria, Chile, Cuba, and Germany. He currently lives in Beijing, China.


Artificial rocks, or Jia Shan Shi, are used in China as decoration in buildings or in traditional landscape gardening. In Chinese custom, rocks and water are the two most important five elements, with rock as possessing qi, or energy. Taking from this cultural context, Zhan created his sculpture by molding a flat sheet of metal to a natural rock formation; once removed, this shiny skin is reformed to create a hollow and abstract representation of nature. A traditional object is thus transformed into a sleek object of the industrialized world.