The Chinese culture, in its course of thousands of years, has never been in lack of pioneers and initiators. As a vehicle for the expression of culture, painting has been playing a historically important role in promoting and developing the Chinese culture with its dual presence in literature and art. Throughout the ages, painters have taken nourishment from different types of art for the nurture of culture, splashing cultural waves one after another. Today, a young artist, taking his share in the cultural creation, shows the world, through his works, his own search, understanding, refinement and sublimation of the traditional Chinese culture, thus making contributions to the bloom and development of art with his wisdom and talent.
The works of Zhang Lanjun are always beyond expectations: each of his series shows a striking change in artistic mood or technique. However, as is commonly felt, many of his works are invariably permeated with the flavor of traditional Chinese culture: some are fresh and chaste, some bold and vigorous, some gentle and graceful. The scenes Zhang Lanjun paints, such as trees, mountains and rivers, are in the west, taking on specific geographical features. Compared with the flatness of the east, he seems more inclined to the roughness of the west; he depicts the boundless landscapes together with well-composed border scenes. The more he paints, the more he paints in depth. Though his stay in the west is not long, he penetrates into the spiritual aspects of the scenes with keen and insightful perspective. He has found the truth of natural scenery in his unique way of expression: his style is more reduced and unassertive; his inner self is more tranquil and restful. Yet underneath the seeming ease is found ever intensifying force.
Liu Xie in his The Literary Mind and the Carving of the Dragon speaking of “mental state” said “he who climbs the mountain is filled with attachment for the mountain, and he who watches the sea is filled with affection for the sea”. The ancient men held that a painting should show the inner sentiment of a painter. Preoccupied with the emotional vehicle for the expression of natural landscape, Zhang Lanjun time and again reduces the outer shape, simplifies the details to produce pure and transparent color. Meanwhile the temperament of Song and Yuan painters finds its way in his works with the emphasis on the refinement and dematerialization of the scenes. Ultimately, with all the figurative patterns dispensed, the artist turns to simple, transparent and natural signals for the direct expression of emotions. Such a style with which the artist merges himself into the nature itself is perhaps what Zhang Lanjun desires: a style which reflects the artistic mood, the culture, the mental state.
The essence of the traditional Chinese culture, true emotion, is merged into his paintings in a unique way. His earlier works are tinged with flavor of traditional Chinese landscape paintings; however, such a fact is not so much an impediment as an opportunity for breakthrough. By means of comparison and choice, absorption and renovation, Zhang Lanjun has repeatedly transcended himself with an increased understanding of life to produce harmony between coldness and warmth (the two extremes of emotions), between tradition and modernity (the two extremes of expression), and between individual mood and natural ambiance. Such is the uniqueness of Zhang Lanjun.
Zhang Lanjun draws nutrition from the profound traditional Chinese culture for the creation of a style and technique with unique appeal.