A digital archive of Asian/Asian American contemporary art history

Wan, Jan-Ru

Other Names: JanRu; Jan Ru

Artist Website

"From constructing garment forms to creating body sculptures, and then creating the space embracing the body, I have always dealt with the human body and its perceptions in my work. My earlier education was deeply influenced by Taoism and Buddhism, which allow me to sit back from the mundane world and to look at the universal human being. By experiencing two different cultures, east and west, I have realized that no matter what kind of system you live with, the essential human being won't disappear; the essential human being is the one I search for in my work. The body is born in nature and constructed by culture, the dualism of the self and the external. The constant process of reciprocal exchange between these two builds up the world. A space within and around my sculptural installation work is intended to evoke the sense of the body contained and the body projected.

By manipulating common objects I intend to recontextualize and embed them in different kinds of senses and create a new avenue. I have always emphasized on the contrast between the interior and exterior of my work: harshness vs. softness; tension vs. freedom; free floating vs. measuring; compulsive energy vs. imperturbable silence. This gives rise to the simultaneous existence of repulsion and compulsion. All contradictions melt into a new kind of balance.

The profusion of material questions the physical and psychological relationships between the mechanical and organic, the gigantic and the miniature. Besides the aesthetics aspect of repetition, the layer upon layer of time-consuming labor also becomes a personal ritual. The multiplicity of small images, details, and objects that make up the whole reveal the individual and the universal simultaneously. For example, in some of my pieces, the repetition of three-dimensional objects results in the individual element merging into oneness, with units being alternately recognizable and unrecognizable. In one of my pieces, I have used a large number of dyed rubber gloves. The large quantity of hanging gloves is magnetic, and draws the viewer's sense into the space. The quality of hanging free-swinging gloves creates interaction among them, simulating the nerve system. Through this repetition of form and notion, the discrepancy between materials is wedded alchemically to produce a new harmony--the balance of the chaotic, the sublime and the beautiful.

Furthermore, I have been combing materials with totally opposite characters in which the contradiction exists between structure and materials. Synthetic materials like gloves were used to create an organic illusion, and organic substances, like paper or feathers and silk, used to construct a sharp geometry shape. Repetition of form creates a sense of mutual harmony. This juxtaposition implies the conflict between rational and emotional impulses, with the possibility of reconciliation, through unification into a singular entity."

Jan-Ru Wan, Artist Statement

Gallery of Selected Works