Non-Existent Existence – Glass Sculpture by Jinya Zhao

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The technique of glassblowing has been around for more than 2000 years and has given form to countless objects and artworks. As is the case with other glassmaking techniques, recently glassblowing has been rediscovered by young designers like Jinya Zhao, who use it as a creative tool to produce intricate and subtle sculptural looking objects that materialize the artist’s emotions while at the same time playfully exploring how the qualities of glass can affect the viewers’ perception.

Born and raised in China, Jinya discovered her passion for glass while studying a BA at the China Academy of Art and continued to nurture it during her MA at the Royal College of Art, in the UK, and in the Ph.D. program in which she is currently enrolled. Jinya’s practice is both informed by a deep knowledge of her craft, obtained through her extensive education; and by a philosophical and psychological interest in dissecting the concept of space and what the human eye perceives as “real.”

Further evidencing the artist’s transcendental approach to glassblowing, since at least 2019 Jinya has been developing collections of vessels that seek to evoke the “Non-existent existence” or the contradictory nature of the interior, exterior and empty space. For example, in some of the works she uses opaque and transparent layered blown glass to deliberately obscure the interior of the intricate organic forms that exude a mysterious aura that connects us to the blurred appearance the landscape takes on a cloudy or foggy day. Additionally, in other works, Jinya combines sharp-angled metal with softly curved glass to create a heightened sense of material balance.

Notably, coinciding with her interest in atmospheric phenomena, Zhao’s works display subtle gradations of colours, mainly of green, blue, yellow, or pink, which bring to the top of mind the many colours the sky takes during sunrise and sunset or the ones present in rainbows. Her works condense and conceptualize the sensorial richness of what happens every day in the sky and remind us of the complexities of the seemingly infinite spaces that surround us.

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Written by Constanza Ontiveros