Zong Ning-The Call of Utopia_Artist portrait at Herzeliya Museum Israel, 2016 - photograph

Zong Ning 宗宁

Zong Ning (*1984 in Inner Mongolia as a son of high school teachers) did not experience the newly wealthy and globalised world of urban China until he went to study at Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts. Once he became part of this ‘beautiful world’, he realised „it’s not as beautiful as I’ve always imagined – it’s mysterious and scary, much worse than the figures you see in my work.“ 

No Survivors (Zong Ning and Wang Yang)

During the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013, the artist group created their fictional video work „No Survivors was interviewed while participating in the Venice Biennale“ In this work, they acted out the roles of two famous artists that had participated in the Venice Biennale and were interviewed by foreign journalists. In the video, both the journalist’s meaningless questions and the artists’s ambiguous answers were carefully scripted

Zong Ning's visual language, concerned with the conflict between the individual and humanity's changing attitudes towards the idea of 'Utopia', encompasses a vast range of mediums including painting, photography, installation, video and performance. He draws inspiration from Chinese folktales, historical imagery and text on reincarnation to create a sense of the karmic cycle of nature. Zong's work freely utilises traditional methods as well as found objects and new media, creating a world linking the ancient and the modern, the ritualistic spirit and human consumption.

The rawness of his works is further enhanced by his monochrome palette, deliberately chosen because of its “simple and basic” quality. Although many of his imagery appears to be sinister, the artist—a student of Buddhism and Daoism—intends them to convey spiritual values, which he considers as the most urgent in contemporary culture. 

Zong Ning,b. in Inner Mongolia in 1984. In 2007, he graduated from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts with a bachelor’s degree majoring in photography. Currently he works and lives in Beijing.

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