Zhu Jia: Faraway Friends
The works on show in Faraway Friends span the course of Zhu Jia’s career to date: the earliest were made before the age of social media; the most recent, just before the age of social distancing. Yet you could say that they are about both those things: media and distance. And all of it under the guise of various ideas of what it means to be governed by everchanging definitions of ‘social’. Follow in the artist’s footsteps, through videos, photography and, more recently, paintings (all of those on show here depicting artworld gatherings), and you’ll find it to be a very shifty path. A negotiation between common sense and a particular sense. Always somewhere in between.
Don’t panic. It’s not the destination but the journey that counts, the saying goes. And so we taxi along, but never quite take off. (The 747, incidentally, is another ‘victim’ of COVID-19. In July Boeing announced that it would cease production of that icon of travel in 2022.) But back to what’s present. Zhu Jia himself appears in all but two of the works on show here. Usually at a distance, on the margins, or the fringe. In fact, in some ways he’s not really ‘here’ at all. But I think, by now, we all know what it’s like to not quite actually be here. Or there. Wherever it is we think we’re headed. ‘We travel, some of us forever,’ the French-American writer Anaïs Nin once wrote, ‘to seek other states, other lives, other souls.’ And sometimes, also, our own.
Zhu Jia, born in 1963, Beijing. Graduated from China Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1988. He lives and works in Beijing. Selected exhibitions include Zhu Jia: Recent Paintings, ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai, 2020; Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2017; 3rd Bienal de Montevideo 2016, Montevideo, Uruguay, 2016; That Has Been, and May Be Again, Para Site, Hong Kong, 2016; Displaying Fragments , Ten Years of OCAT (2005–2015), OCAT, Beijing, 2015; Critical Pervasion, ShanghART Gallery & H Space, Shanghai, 2015; Mobile M+: Moving Images, Hong Kong, 2015; LANDSEASKY: Revisiting Spatiality in Video Art, OCT Contemporary Art Terminal, Shanghai, 2014; Out of the Box': The Threshold of Video Art in China 1984–1998, Guangdong Times Museum, Guangzhou, 2011.
Special thanks to ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai for making this exhibition possible