Jin Shan turned to plastic as an art material in 2013 to exploit the material’s ability to express “a nasty feeling.” Jin was inspired by plastic’s incredible flexibility—it can be easily melted, poured, stretched, and sculpted.
Since then, Jin has continued to give expression to such plasticity by exploring ways to retain the appearance of melting plastic even after it has hardened into a shape. The artist often combines plastic with other materials to produce complex sculptural assemblages, often reflecting a rebellious spirit.
This dynamism and movement is evident in Mistaken. Fists punch out from the half-melted plastic face of a heroic Communist worker, yet the plastic appears to disintegrate into fine threads. The sculpture’s lower part is made up of an aggressive arrangement of wood slats. The wooden pieces, chopped by Jin himself, are made from the wooden doors of old, demolished houses on the outskirts of Shanghai. The dramatic contrast of the two materials—the wooden relics of old buildings and the plastic Cultural Revolution imagery—suggests the fragmented memories of China’s past.
“Jin used the casting process to infuse his sculptures with a liquid character and a sense of temporality.”—Wan Kong 1
Wan Kong, “Jin Shan: Interrogation and Provocation,” in The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China, eds. Orianna Cacchione and Wu Hung (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019), 139.
Wood and plastic
76 1/4 x 35 1/2 x 39 1/2 in. (193.7 x 90.2 x 100.3 cm)
Collection of the artist, courtesy of BANK/MABSOCIETY