Artists of the Year

Maxwell Alexandre
Conny Maier

Zhang Xu Zhan 1
Zhang Xu Shan

Zhang Xu explained to me the construction process for the figures, beginning with wire frames for their skeletal structures so the characters can bend their limbs and move. He then mixes newspaper with paste to create a pulp for the outer layers of the character. Newspaper has a history in the Taoist paper art tradition of zhizha, giving fleshly forms to deities and mythological creatures, and Zhang Xu carefully selects the material for both its texture and information, using newspapers in German, Indonesian, or Chinese. Once he has shaped the figures he embellishes them with glazed paper (a paper often used in zhizha for gold and silver mountains but comes in a variety of colors), crepe paper for tassels, and mirror paper for decoration, before adding beady plastic eyes. Layering paper on paper gives his characters an air of antiquity, as if they have witnessed thousands of years.


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