BEIJING.- Pace Beijing
presents an exhibition of Zhang Huans recent work. It is his fi rst exhibition with the gallery in Beijing and his third with Pace. A catalogue will accompany the exhibition. Zhang Huan: Free Tiger Returns to Mountains will open on May 20 and remain on view through July 20, 2010.
Zhang Huan is well-known for his ability to work in multiple mediums. He initially gained fame as a performance artist in the 1990s, but in recent years has returned to painting, sculpture, and large-scale installations. Free Tiger Returns to Mountains will include ash paintings and cowhide sculptures. This new series of ash paintings are different from his previous paintings. Whereas in the past they were based on existing photographs, the new works are imagined wildlife scenes. The brushwork has a more expressionist and looser feel than before.
The ash paintings focus on the Chinese tiger. One of the most endangered animals on earth, the Chinese tiger is revered but under extreme threat. The species desperately needs further protection and land to ensure it will survive. Chinas rush towards urbanization and economic growth has only furthered the stress on already endangered animals in the country. Finding protected land or private space is increasingly a bigger problem for animals and humans alike. Like the tigers need for more protected land, Zhang Huan believes that humans need to return or refer to nature more frequently. His new series compares people to the tiger; both need their privacy within nature. He sees their relationship to nature as essential to their survival; they are dependent on and inspired by the sanctuary that nature provides.
The cowhide sculptures are from his Cow-skin Buddha Face series. He connects with the material because he grew up in rural Henan province and during his childhood he used to ride oxen. The hides are a very raw material; they feel as if they still retain some of their life and energy. The hides are part of a cycle and are reborn as sculptures.
Zhang Huan was born in 1965; he graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Art, Department of Oil Painting. He currently lives and works in Shanghai. This year Zhang Huan has had solo exhibitions at The Shanghai Art Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei, and a mid-career retrospective was organized by the Asia Society in 2007 and then traveled to the Vancouver Museum of Art. His work is the permanent collection of numerous museums including The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and The Pompidou Center, Paris.