Zhan Wang, one of the most celebrated artists in China, is known internationally for his stainless steel sculptures called ”Jiashanshi”. These works take up the natural stone and rock formations which play a central role in the traditional art of the Chinese garden. The ‘Scholar’s Stones’, as the Jiashanshi are called in the West, symbolize mountain landscapes which, when crossed in the imagination, promote the spiritual experience of a direct connection to nature. Collecting such stones for spiritual or aesthetic reasons goes back to the time of the Han dynasty over 2000 years ago. Zhan Wang started his series of artificial ”Jiashanshi”, a re-forming of the natural stones using highly polished modern material, in 1995 following the building boom in Beijing. Corresponding to the impression created by the skyscrapers of glass and steel, they symbolize the modern shell and at the same time the living core of the city, anchored in tradition – the fluid overlapping of old and new, of artificial and natural growth. Traditionally the Jiashianshi were also to be found in thermal baths in China. The positioning of ”Jiashanshi 4#“ in the rotunda of the historical Kaiser-Wilhelms-Bad takes up this relationship in a new cultural context.
Oka Doner, Michele