Zhang Shujian is a photorealist artist who intensively examines the human face in his drawings and brush paintings. He is fascinated by rendering features in clinical, minute detail: single hairs made with intense brushstrokes, freckles, blemishes and imperfections all precisely articulated, with meticulous emphasis on skin. In pencil on paper or with thin layers of oil paint, varnish and lacquer - techniques that borrow from Gothic Tempera formal techniques of painting on board - his portraits are both investigations of the human body and explorations of character. The artist is not interested in received standards of aesthetic beauty but rather in character and the expression of imperfect humanity: initially portraying close friends, he soon began to draw strangers. In one of his notable series, Skin Weave, he reimagined the skin of figures depicted in sketches by Dürer and Da Vinci, part of his ongoing reinterpretation of German Realist and Renaissance Masters. As a continuation of this exploration, his practice now hovers between hyperrealism and surrealism, as Zhang extracts and distorts bodily details with utmost dexterity.


Zhang Shujian, born in 1987, Hunan Province, China, graduated in 2010 from Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, where he lives and works, specialising in explorative expressionism. His work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions in Beijing, Shanghai, Amsterdam and Hall, Austria and can be found in private, corporate and public collections. Zhang has won awards for several exhibitions including his degree show.