Alisan Fine Arts is proud to present our first joint exhibition for the Chinese ink painter Zhang Jian-Jun and multi-media American artist Barbara Edelstein. Zhang has been included in several Alisan group exhibitions, dating back to 1987. Following the enthusiastic reception of works from Zhang's "Elemental Ink" series at the Asian Cultural Council (ACC) First Annual Fellows Alumni Showcase hosted by Alisan Fine Arts in 2018, we were inspired to further collaborate with both Zhang and his talented wife Edelstein. Traditionally Chinese artists have focused on the subject of gardens and nature to communicate the artist’s personal relationship with the world and landscape. For this exhibition we have selected to showcase Zhang's "Rubbing Rain" and "First Drop" paintings that draw upon his fascination with water. Placed in poetic dialogue alongside Edelstein's photographs and sculptures exploring the structure and forms of leaves, the gallery environment morphs into an Ineffable Garden of contemplative curiosity.

This Ineffable Garden is a link between culture and nature. Gardens have always been a cultural manifestation of nature, especially Chinese Gardens, which reflect the essence of ink art.

(Zhang Jian-Jun & Barbara Edelstein)

Zhang Jian-Jun is an abstract artist preoccupied by the themes of existence, time, space, and transformation, and their effects on individuals and culture. He began to pursue abstract painting in the 1980s, with the Chinese ink and mixed media paintings from his 1985 "Existence" series typifying the ‘rationalistic painting’ of the Chinese avant-garde movement. Zhang's interest in the natural world has inspired his current "First Drop of Water" series of paintings portraying the impact of a droplet of water on a surface. His related “Rubbing Rain” series extends his philosophical exploration of the water drop, as one raindrop forms a concrete image while "rain" macroscopically captures a metaphysical concept.

The interface of nature and life serves as the foundation for Barbara Edelstein's artworks. Her internalised interpretations of leaves, with their intricate forms, membranes and patterns, are poetically interpreted in both two and three-dimensional artworks, including photography, ink painting and sculpture. Her work is strongly influenced by Buddhism and traditional Chinese artists, including Ba Da Shan Ren, Zhang Xu, and Huai Su. Edelstein often employs industrial materials like silicone and current technology in combination with traditional techniques such as Chinese ink on paper. Her fascination with the structural forms of leaves has led to her series of leaf sculptures, photographs and drawings, through which the artist conveys a message of universal oneness.

Zhang Jian-Jun graduated from the Shanghai Theatre Academy’s Department of Fine Arts in 1978. He is currently a professor at New York University and divides his time between Shanghai and the US. In 1987 he was honoured with an ACC Rockefeller fellowship, and in 1990 with a grant from The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York, USA. He recently gained the artist-in-residence programme award co-presented by K11 Art Foundation, Hong Kong and the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2019). Zhang has held solo exhibitions in New York, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and China, including at Harvard University, Shanghai Art Museum, Guangdong Museum of Art, and Pace Prints in New York. Group exhibitions include Ink Worlds at the Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University (2018); Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China (2013), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Flowing River: 30 Years of Chinese Oil Painting (2005), National Art Museum of China, Beijing; and ’83 Experimental Painting Exhibition (1983), Fudan University, Shanghai. Selected collections: Brooklyn Museum, New York; San Francisco Asian Art Museum, California, USA; Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou; Shanghai Art Museum; Yuz Museum, Shanghai, China; M+ Museum, Hong Kong.

Barbara Edelstein received her MFA in Arts and Sculpture from Claremont Graduate University, California, USA and currently serves as Professor of Art at NYU Shanghai. She is a former recipient of the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residency, two Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grants, and MacDowell Colony and Djerassi Residencies. Edelstein has several large-scale permanent public artworks in the United States, Europe, and China, including sculptures for the Shanghai Jing’an International Sculpture Park and the Hangzhou Municipal Government. Her work has appeared in ARTnews, Art in America, Art Contemporary China, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as many other international art publications. Selected permanent collections include National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC, USA; Azerbaijan Museum, Baku, Azerbijan; Museum Kolei Waskotorowej, Wenecja, Poland; Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou; Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China.