Yakun Zhang


Bachelor of Visual Arts Mixed Media Art & Technology Documentary Identity Place
Name: Orange Date: 12/08/2020 Medium: Oil on Paper
AD20 Award
Auckland Art Gallery Award
For High Achievement


Gewu 格物 (to investigate things/affairs) Zhizhi 致知 (to extend knowledge/understanding)” are the intimate two items in the eight clauses of the Great Learning(Daxue大学). Within Confucianism it is a belief that Gewu and Zhizhi is a process of learning. We have to start from observation and investigation, then we are able to perceive a principle alongside that inspection. For me, observation helps me to understand my surroundings. I use a camera as a tool to see the world. I see the world through my lens. I capture minor things, things that could be the silhouette of the leaves on a tree, the blowing wind and the bright stars against the dark canvas of night. They are speaking to me in a theatrical aura, and the language they speak extends the physical dimension of time. This insight is slowly becoming a part of my motivation for my observation.

The worm was lying on the orange, sunlight filtering through the leaves. The worm enjoyed this moment, but it didn't realize the observer was staring at it for a long time...

I went back to Xi’an before the Covid-19 pandemic spread. I had a different feeling of this place which I used to live and grow. I walk on the street, look at things I never lay my sight on, then I notice the palace I supposed to know very well has become unfamiliar. I decided to paint those astonishing moments that I observed in my hometown when I get back to Auckland. After returning from Xi’an earlier this year I experienced two quarantine periods in Auckland. I have made oil paintings of my hometown during this time, these paintings have become a starting point for my observation journal. I thought the social isolation in Auckland could be a chance for me to re-examine myself from many different perspectives.

Amidst the quarantine period, the fruit of the orange trees in my yard were ripening. I could hear the oranges falling every night, while I was in my study. My mother collected these oranges after they had fallen. Once my mother told me to throw away an orange with a huge white worm, I took the orange and laid my sight on the curly thing. It lay on the orange. I felt that the worm is enjoying a peaceful moment, but it doesn’t know I was staring at it for a long time, and I can destroy the worm’s dream at any moment. I blew the worm on the ground out of curiosity. Initially, it was lying on the ground without any movement, but not long after the worm started to notice that the place was not how it was supposed to be. It started to squirm violently. All of a sudden, I felt a strong connection between me and the worm. We are both suffering. We are both vulnerable to unpredicted events in a fallen world. The orange has fallen. The harshness of human activities, consumerism, and capital-driven society may eventually lead to self-destruction. Watching the worm is just like watching my reflection. The worm calms down and moves slowly, It is slow but it is moving. I was squatting and watching it disappear, then I noticed that I was surrounded by the sound of raven caws.