Contemporary Art

Zhang Huan

China 1965

Sculpture, Conceptual Art, Photography

Zhang Huan
Zhang Huan
November 15, 2014
Ok, I know it's so damn corny to quote somebody just to describe yourself, let alone Confucius, but this quote says all about my relationship with Widewalls, so forgive me for doing this: Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Am I forgiven?

Zhang Huan is a Chinese artist known for his physical and psychological endurance performances in the 1990s. His recent work has featured sculptures and paintings that explore themes of memory and spirituality and how these relate to Buddhist practice.

Zhang Huan was born in An Yang City, He Nan Province, China. He received his B.A. from Henan University in Kaifeng (1988) and his M.A. from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing (1993). Zhang began his work as part of a small artistic community, known as the Beijing East Village, located on the margins of the city. The group of friends from art school pioneered this particular brand of performance in China and Zhang was often reprimanded by officials for the perceived inappropriateness of his actions.

His issues are the traumas of a nation emerging from the brutality of the Cultural Revolution, famine, political repression, ideological zeal, the place of censorship in contemporary democracy and the hardship of everyday life in China. Several of his performances were banned by the Chinese government in the 1990s.

Before moving to the United States in 1998, he had gained a considerable reputation in Beijing due to the provocative nature of his performances, particularly those in which maltreated his own, nude body testing physical and mental endurance.

While he considered himself a Buddhist, it was only after his trip to Tibet in 2005 that his works showed a strong reference to the religion. Inspired, he created giant copper hands and feet, magnified versions of fragments of broken Buddhist figures that he found in Tibet.

He is considered as one of the most vital, influential and provocative contemporary artists working today. The layers of ideas this artist explored in his early performance art, were made out of existential explorations and social commentaries, and have carried through to the more traditional studio practice he embraced upon moving to Shanghai in 2005, after living and working for eight years in New York City. He established Zhang Huan Studio, where he continued to expand his artistic works, creating new forms and expanding into new areas. The ash painting technique he created has added another method of painting to art history, other techniques, such as sculpting in cowhide, door carvings and feather woodcuts have all been pioneered by Zhang Huan.

Paying attention to the spirit and future of humanities, Zhang Huan is dedicated to the extension of boundaries in forms and subjects of oriental and occidental, past and present art creation.

Currently, he lives and works in New York and Shanghai.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group 
2015Contemporary Chinese PhotographyThe Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio, USAGroup
2014Zhang Huan - Spring Poppy FieldsPace London, LondonSolo
2014Zhang Huan: Evoking TraditionStorm King Art Center, New York, USASolo
2014Zhang HuanPace Chesa Büsin, Zuoz, SwitzerlandSolo
2014Utopian Days-FreedomTotal Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, South KoreaGroup
2014Where is China?Museum of the Orient, Lisbon, PortugalGroup
2014Where is China?World Art Museum, China Group
2014Typology, Taxonomy and Seriality: Photography from the Walther CollectionEspace Van Gogh, Arles, FranceGroup
2013Zhang Huan Poppy FieldsThe Pace Gallery - 534 West 25th Street, New York City, NYSolo
2013Looking East, Facing West: The World of Zhang HuanFrederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Michigan, USA Solo
2013Zhang Huan: Soul and MatterPalazzo Vecchio and Forte di Belvedere, Florence, ItalySolo
2013DisasterGalerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, FranceGroup
2013Through the Eyes of Texas: Masterworks from Alumni CollectionsBlanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas, Texas, USAGroup
2013The Collectors' Show: Weight of HistorySingapore Art Museum, SingaporeGroup
2013Culture . Mind . BecomingCollateral Event of Chinese Art at the 55th Venice Art Biennale 2013, Palazzo Mora, Venice, ItalyGroup
2013The Red QueenThe Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, AustraliaGroup
2012Zhang Huan: Ash Paintings and Memory DoorsArt Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, CanadaSolo
2012Zhang Huan: The Mountain is Still a MountainWhite Cube, London, UKSolo
2012Zhang Huan: Jin Hui DuiGallery 100, Taipei, TaiwanSolo
2012Superbodies Hasselt, Hasselt, BelgiumGroup
2012Swept Away: Dust, Ashes and Dirt in Contemporary Art and DesignMuseum of Arts and Design, New York, USAGroup
2012Transforming Minds: Buddhism in ArtAsia Society Hong Kong Center, Hong KongGroup
2012Omen2012-Chinese New ArtShanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, ChinaGroup
2011Zhang Huan: Q ConfuciusRockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, China Solo
2011Zhang Huan: 49 DaysBlum & Poe, Los Angeles, USA Solo
2011Zhang Huan: East Wind, West WindEspace Louis Vuittion Macao, MacaoSolo
2011Zhang Huan: Ash BanquetProjectB Gallery, Milan, ItalySolo
2011Skin, The Foundation of Claude VerdanMuseum of Science and Art, Lausanne, SwitzerlandGroup
2011About IdentityArt Stations Foundation by Grazyna Kulczyk, Poznan, PolandGroup
2011The World Belongs to YouPalazzo Grassi, Francois Pinault Foundation, Venice, ItalyGroup
2011Big Brother, Artists Facing TyrantsPalais des Arts, Dinard, FranceGroup
2010Zhang Huan: Dawn of TimeShanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, ChinaSolo
2010Zhang Huan: Free Tiger Returns to MountainsPace Beijing, Beijing, ChinaSolo
2010Haunted: Contemporary Photography/Video/PerformanceThe Guggenheim Museum, New York, USAGroup
2010The Silk RoadFrom Saatchi Gallery, Tri Postal, Lille, FranceGroup
2010The Tiger in Asian ArtAsia House, London, UKGroup
2010NegotiationsToday Art Museum, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2009Neither Coming Nor GoingPaceWildenstein, New York, USASolo
2009Zhang Huan: Memory DoorsHaunch of Venison, Zurich, SwitzerlandSolo
2009Steel LifeLa Triennale di Milano, Milano, ItalyGroup
2009Beg Borrow and Steal The Rubell Family Collection, Miami, USAGroup
2008Zhang Huan: BlessingsPaceWildenstein, New York, USASolo
2008Zhang Huan: Altered StatesVancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, CanadaSolo
2008Body Language: Chinese PhotographyNational Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, AustraliaGroup
2007Zhang Huan: Altered StatesAsia Society, New York, USASolo
2007Zhang Huan: AshHaunch of Venison, London, EnglandSolo
2005Zhang Huan: Seeds of HamburgMuseum of Fine Arts, Boston, USASolo
2004Zhang Huan, Tri Postal, Lille 2004Cultural Capital of Europe, Lille, FranceSolo
2001Zhang Huan: Famliy TreeGalerie Albert Benamou, Paris, FranceSolo

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1/2 , 1998Zhang Huan141 x 120 cm Prints
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