Zeng Xiaojun (b. 1954)
Ink and color on paper, 2002
Height: 17 ½ inches (44.45 cm.)
Width: 24 ⅞ inches (63.18 cm.)
Like a series of rounded mountains with grottoes, this intimate, contemplative painting is a life size portrayal of a black limestone with white veining and inclusions; possibly a black Ying or Lingbi scholar’s rock. It is a Chinese belief that Nature is an artist and that Nature’s art could be collected and contemplated like other art forms. Like a landscape painting, the rock is seen as a microcosm of the universe on which the scholar could meditate within the confines of his garden or studio. However, it is the rock’s abstract qualities that Zeng Xiaojun found most appealing. The extent of the abstraction allows for endless creative opportunities. Not only does Zeng Xiaojun render the details of a rock realistically, he takes it a step further and insulates the rock in an airless, breathless world; henceforth, entrapping the essence of a rock into a two-dimensional realm.
Being one of the best-known and most important contemporary ink painters active in China today, Zeng Xiaojun was born in Beijing in 1954 and spent his teenage years living amidst the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution. He attended the Central Art and Craft Academy of Beijing, from which he graduated in 1981. In 1983, Zeng Xiaojun moved to the United States, taking up residence in Boston. In 1997, he returned to Beijing, where he now lives and works. An avid collector of Ming and Qing furniture as well as scholar’s objects, Zeng Xiaojun is most passionate about wood and scholar’s rocks, reflecting an unusual resonance between his paintings and collected objects. Zeng Xiaojun’s art is in many private and public collections, including the permanent collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art.