Zeng Zhe’s art looks at these objects and finds in them the cultural weight of something self-sufficient, bona fide. Zeng Zhe’s accomplishment proposes what amounts to humility in the face of people’s indifference toward art.
By concentrating on small objects of little social consequence, she is free to look closely at its inherent nature—without becoming involved in anything but the stark quiddity she is encountering. But, given the skill of Zeng Zhe’s hand, we find that values are turned upside down: the tables are reversed, and the object commands a small world of its own. This change does not glorify the artist’s still lifes so much as invest them with an importance based on close observation. Suddenly the painted mushrooms in one work appear more valuable, as objects of sight, than the lowly funghi they are. While it is true that Zeng Zhe is offering a metaphysics of sorts, her content also allows her to concentrate on those things that are part of her life, which means her decision to paint the way she does amounts to a practical decision as well as a philosophical one. The combination of an idealized esthetic and a utilitarian theme strikes this writer as inherently Chinese. Zeng Zhe’s job is to link the ordinary to the sublime