WHAT YOU WANT
Beijing-born sculptor Ren Zhe explains the spirit of conquest he
hopes to convey through his awesome bronze and steel warriors.
By WONG MUN WAI.
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The reason I like sculpting is because
sculptures are more direct and genuine,
and this also suits my own character.
Throughout history, the warrior’s image has rallied
many to a common cause. The warrior epitomises the
indomitable human spirit – solid, unﬂinching and deﬁant,
the classic picture of the hero.
The warrior is also a particular fascination for Chinese
sculptor Ren Zhe, whose ﬁrst solo exhibition debuts in
Singapore from the end of May called Ren Zhe: Garnering
Fearsome is a word that comes to mind when one sees
the sculptures. The tallest at 2.2 metres high towers
over most people. However, rather than representing
violence, Ren Zhe has created the bronze artworks to
“I hope their indomitable spirit sets an example for
people who have suffered setbacks or experienced
difﬁculties to… stand up for themselves,” writes the
sculptor. “I want to constantly go all out, broaden my
horizons and continue surpassing my own standards.
This is why I am creating these warriors, as I wish to
convey this awesome spirit to people.”
Many inﬂuences, one heart
A graduate of the Department of Sculpture – Academy
of Arts & Design at Tsinghua University and member
of China Sculpture Institute, his ideas and concepts are
drawn from contemporary culture like Japanese anime.
The sculptor grew up in a generation when anime
became popular outside Japan in the 1980s. Naturally,
a recurrent theme running through his work is the
reassessing of the past through contemporary eyes.
He asks us to think back to the end of the 19th century
and beginning of the 20th, to the dying days of the
Qing dynasty. “The relations between people were
much simpler and when the Western and Oriental
cultures collided, it sparked off an art inspiration,” says
the closely-cropped, clean-shaven 28-year-old. “Art
had less restrictions and limitations then and I like how
easy these two cultures blended together to inspire
Ren Zhe doesn’t just draw inspiration from one period
in time though. The sculptor views all art form as
interlinked: From ancient Greek sculpture, Chinese
calligraphy, Shang dynasty bronze ware to Italian
His craft seems a fairly structured process: “First it
starts with the drawing of a sketch and this is followed
by creating the sculpture’s framework. This framework
is a creation using both iron and wood so as to support
the sculpture mould that is made of clay.” However, it is
his view that style, technique or methods are not ﬁxed
but merely the artist’s tools. What he holds as constant
and wants to “uphold forever” is his attitude of crafting
and staying sincere to his art.
The exhibition of 25 bronze and stainless steel sculptures is on
from 28 May to 5 June at the ARTrium @ MICA, 140 Hill Street,
tel: 6837 9844. Admission is free. lite
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