Public Collection

Ash Museum: (Under Construction)

Gaoan Foundation:

Jun Jun Hu:


I Do | Huan Art Life Space
No. 758 Huaihai Road, Shanghai, China

I Do | Huan Art Life Space opened on December 30, 2015. The installation Zhang Huan co-created with the jewelry brand I Do paved a new mode of cooperation between business and art.

Zhang Huan: Let There Be Light
30 October to 5 December, 2015
Pace Gallery, New York, USA

Zhang's new body of ash paintings—made between 2011 and 2014—present passages from the Bible and “The Star-Spangled Banner” in Braille. Emphasizing surface, the works continue his use of incense ash from Buddhist temples as a medium while demonstrating a departure from the figurative themes of his earlier ash paintings.

Zhang's monochromatic paintings, which differ in tone and surface value depending on the color and texture of the collected ash, have a minimalist quality with visual affinities to the work of Agnes Martin and Robert Ryman. Using the Chinese system of Braille script, the paintings appear visually abstract but are concrete in their content. Zhang's use of a Buddhist material draws parallels between Buddhist texts and those of the Bible, presenting themes of human nature, truth and kindness that can be read as universal. By rendering religious passages in a tactile writing system using an inherently fragile material, Zhang is relating materiality to the methodology of prayer and illusions of belief. The emphasis of Braille as a textural surface read through touch resonates with the corporeal dimension of Zhang's earlier performance work.

The exhibition also includes a figurative ash painting—Zhang's largest to date—measuring 122 feet long. Based on a photograph taken on June 15, 1964, the painting represents Mao Zedong surrounded by the central leaders of his government and over 1,000 loyal followers. For Zhang, who was born a year after the photograph was taken, the image prompts memories from his childhood during the Cultural Revolution. It represents a time in China's history fraught with disaster and disorder, when Chairman Mao sought to consolidate his rule over the country. By sourcing imagery from a media archive of government-approved material, Zhang is highlighting the fallibility of a constructed memory. The ash painting presents the appearance and spirit of China at the time, highlighting a collective devotion and ideology based in communist and socialist thought. June 15, 1964 demonstrates the potential for human history to be interpreted through multiple cultures and systems of belief, generating a growing dialogue and platform of communication.

Conceptually, both bodies of work on view are embedded within a framework of systems. The figurative work adheres to a controlled set of images used by the government to craft a tailored representation of Chinese history, while the Braille paintings follow a standardized system of reading and writing. The subjects of the Braille texts further exist within the structure of a system by referring to the hegemonic forces of monotheistic religion and nationalism.

4 March to 10 March, 2015
BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), New York, USA

Zhang Huan is Awarded Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur
20 May, 2014
The Residence of French Consul General, Shanghai, China

In spring 2014, renowned artist Zhang Huan is awarded "Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur" by the French government in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the inheritance and communication of Chinese culture and the promotion of French-Chinese cultural and artistic exchanges.

The honor "Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur"(Legion of Honour in English), set up by Napoleon in 1802 to replace knighthood system in old dynasties, is the highest medal of honor that the French government awards and is among the most famous medals in the world.

Zhang Huan, one of eminent artists in contemporary art, enjoys a high reputation in global cultural and artistic field. 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. He owes his universally recognized achievement to innovative spirit. Zhang Huan is going in a direction opposite to Marco Polo 600 years ago, bringing about oriental culture to the world. Recently, his solo exhibitions have been successfully held in Paris, London, New York and Florence. Opera Semele that he directs has been performed in different countries of the world and is about to be performed in Brooklyn Academy of Music in spring 2015.

Zhang Huan’s works have been collected by top museums, galleries and public organizations. Gaoan Foundation, which was founded by Zhang Huan and his wife Hu Junjun, supported the building of over 30 "Zhang Huan Hope Schools" in poverty-stricken areas of China. And it also greatly sponsored organizations of education, Buddhism, culture and art.

The artist has extensive cooperation with the French culture and art circles. His works have been collected by Centre National d’art et de Culture Georges Pompidou, Petit Palais, JGM Galerie and other major galleries in France and he also has projects with them. The traditional culture imbedded in his works has a perfect fusion with contemporary spirit, which brings extraordinary experience to French audiences.

Zhang Huan enjoys another harvest in his art career by means of his appreciation and pursuit of art, upon his great contribution to contemporary art. He has become an outstanding artist who receives this honor and makes a big deal in Chinese art circles.

The award ceremony will be held in the residence of French Consul General in Shanghai on May.20, 2014.

Zhang Huan: Evoking Tradition
3 May to 9 November, 2014
Storm King Art Center, New York, USA

Storm King’s major exhibition in 2014 will feature the work of acclaimed Chinese artist Zhang Huan. The large-scale exhibition will be the first of its kind and will focus on the artist’s ongoing investigation of the imagery, rituals and teachings of the Buddhist religion. Three Legged Buddha (2007), a sculpture that stands nearly twenty-eight feet high and weighs more than twelve tons, and was gifted to Storm King in 2010, is the starting point for 2014 exhibition. Storm King will display works on loan from the artist and private collectors both inside the Museum Building and outdoors in the "Maple Rooms" on the east side of Storm King, near Three Legged Buddha. The Storm King exhibition will be the first large-scale presentation of Zhang Huan’s Buddhist-inspired sculptures, and will be accompanied by a beautifully illustrated catalogue.

Zhang’s monumental sculpture represents the lower half of a sprawling, three-legged behemoth, one of whose feet rests on an eight-foot high human head that appears to be either emerging from or sinking into the earth. Zhang has said, "Three-Legged Buddha is a monster from another world, a soul rushing out from hell. It’s the confrontation of two powers, and the relationship between ruling and being ruled. Mao Zedong once said, ’Where there is oppression, there will be rebellion. Where there is authority, there will be subversion’."

In keeping with Tibetan tradition, Three Legged Buddha is made of forged copper. Yet rather than gold-plating or otherwise coloring the copper, as custom would have it, Zhang left its violet hue untouched. He also refrained from concealing the weld marks in the work, believing that they both recall the language of painting and convey his belief that welding the copper was spiritually akin to the stitching of human skin after surgery. Despite its monumental size, Zhang conveys a sense of fragility, vulnerability and ultimately, humanity, on the work’s surface.

Zhang Huan:Spring Poppy Fields
25 April to 31 May, 2014
Pace Gallery, London, UK

Pace London is proud to present Spring Poppy Fields, an exhibition of new works by the Chinese artist Zhang Huan from 25 April to 31 May 2014 at 6 Burlington Gardens. Zhang Huan is one of the most vital, influential and provocative contemporary artists working today. Having explored the full spectrum of media, from performance to photography, installation, sculpture and painting, Zhang Huan’s Spring Poppy Fields oil paintings is the subject of his first exhibition at Pace London.

Spring Poppy Fields features fourteen vividly coloured, oil on linen paintings that have occupied the artist’s practice between 2011 and 2014. Alluding to Buddhist masks and iconography, the series is inspired by Zhang Huan’s extensive travel to Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and India.

Employing an almost pointillist technique, Zhang Huan’s application of the thick pigment performs an optical illusion. From a distance, the canvas metamorphoses into a field of psychedelic colours; the pink, teal, lilac and cornflower blue palette appears to pulsate with energy. Upon closer inspection, the colours separate and the individual faces of the skulls emerge from their abstraction. Seemingly uncontrolled and haphazard, the placement of the skulls on the canvas is misleading.

Despite Zhang Huan’s heavy reliance upon Tibetan Buddhism, his choice of palette is non-Tibetan and paradoxical in its symbolism. The various colours, representative of "garish consumerism" in these paintings enhance the sinister and dark humoured qualities of the skull. The abrasive tones of the maniacal faces taunt at the darker effects of opium, reminiscent of Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat’s opium-infused inane smile.

In addition, the Spring Poppy Fields paintings will feature ribs overlaying the original skulls. The ribs subtly blend into the canvas as a visual accompaniment to the composition and reference themes of "injuries, accidents, war and violence and disasters" according to Zhang Huan.

Zhang Huan, ’The Mountain is still a Mountain’
20 July to 26 August, 2012
White Cube Bermondsey, London, England

White Cube Bermondsey is pleased to present an exhibition by the acclaimed artist Zhang Huan. Known primarily for his rigorous and demanding performances of the 1990s, Zhang’s more recent work has consisted of sculptures and paintings made using incense ash gathered from the rituals and ceremonies performed daily at Buddhist temples in the artist’s native city of Shanghai.

Entitled, ’The Mountain is still a Mountain’, a reference to the teachings of a Chan Buddhist master from the Tang Dynasty period, this exhibition presents a series of large-scale figurative ash paintings that touch on diverse cultural, political and spiritual themes.

Painted from historical photographs taken from old magazines, family albums and the propagandist publications distributed by the government during the Cultural Revolution, their subject matter ranges from depictions of political leaders, such as the influential Nationalist Party members Chiang Kai-shek and Hu Hanmin, important intellectual and religious figures like the writer Wei Wei and the Buddhist scholar Shen-yen to anonymous family portraits and poetic landscape scenes. Also included in the exhibition are two monumental paintings of significant historical events;1959 National Day (2010), a view of Tiananmen square on the anniversary of Mao Zedong’s declaration of the People’s Republic of China and Grand Canal (2009) showing labourers at work on the Beijing to Hangzhou Canal.

Carrying on from earlier performative works, such as Pilgrimage to Santiago (2001), in which the artist enclosed himself in an immense, swinging thurible, Zhang’s use of ash in these works melds traditional Chinese and Western art historical references with his own complex, personal and religious meanings. Incense ash is a highly charged and significant medium for Zhang. It embodies the harmony and unity of collective religious ceremony as well as the intensely private, individual experience of prayer. Described by the artist as a transformative ’message carrier’, it is both the residue of disintegrated material – an index of memory, history and the past – and a deeply spiritual signifier of restitution and hope.

At a time of immense and rapid socio-economic change in China, these works look back at its past, marking a fragile line with delicate layers of ash between individual memory and official historical record.

Zhang Huan was born in 1965 in Anyang City, Henan Province, and lives and works in Shanghai. From 1998 to 2005 he lived in New York where he gained international recognition. He has had solo exhibitions at the Norton Museum of Art, Florida, the PAC museum, Milan, the Shanghai Art Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto and has been featured in group exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and the Whitney Museum, New York, Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Pompidou Center, Paris etc.

A fully illustrated catalogue, including an essay by Richard Vine, will be published to accompany the exhibition.

Spread the Sunshine over the Earth
May 17 to September 16, 2012
Sculpture at Pilane 2012, Tjorn, Sweden

Ash Buddha & Ash Jesus
7 July to 2 September, 2012
Art Festival Watou 2012, Watou, Belgium