Water [interpunct] Fire Series
On View: Asian Galleries, Southwest, 2nd floor
In Water–Fire, Zhang Jian-Jun juxtaposes two circular forms. To make the upper circle, he set fire to black ink on the painted surface of the paper and painted the lower one with a diluted ink wash that looks wet even after it dries. The two circles clearly evoke the Daoist concepts of yin and yang in Chinese cosmology: two conflicting yet complementary elements that cannot exist without each other and at the same time are mutually transformative. In Chinese philosophy, water and fire are two of the five major elements, known as wu xing, that comprise the life-force called qi; the other three are earth, metal, and wood. Zhang’s experimentation with ink is also shown in a sculpture, Ink Rock, made of solid black ink, on view in the Arts of China galleries.
Chinese ink, water, fire on paper
Gift of Zhang Jian-Jun in honor of the new Chinese galleries
© Zhang Jian-Jun
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Zhang Jian-Jun (Chinese, born 1955). Water [interpunct] Fire Series, 1992. Chinese ink, water, fire on paper, 30 × 22 in. (76.2 × 55.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Zhang Jian-Jun in honor of the new Chinese galleries, 2018.44. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: , CUR.2018.44.jpg)
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