Zhang Yong 张勇
Zhang Yong’s work seeks to portray subjects of popular culture, questioning the fundamental values of the current era. His Durian inspired animal series brings together a sense of amusement, cuteness, and allurement through the irresistible 18-carat gold finish. It is offset by the thorny fierceness communicated through the spikes that surround the animals exterior.
One of his most iconic works to date, titled Hug Me – is a teddy bear covered with golden spikes that has viewers torn between ‘Oohs’ and ‘Ahhs’. Teddy bears are one of the most recognisable and familiar characters, they have long been used as a symbol for innocent companionship, a warm, cuddly safety mechanism.
Zhang’s version of the teddy bear is far more complex. The bear is cute, and the gold alluring, but the thorny spikes create a self-defence mechanism that protects the bear’s innocence and warns away those who wish to touch. Eventually, of course, the viewer can’t resist and builds up the courage to reach out.
Zhang Yong graduated from Central Academy of Fine Arts with a master’s degree in sculpting. Born in Shandong in 1986, he now lives and works in Beijing.