Zhang Huan, one of the most important contemporary Chinese artists, returns to Milan for
his second personal exhibition at the ProjectB Gallery.
On display are five Ash Paintings, works laden with spirituality (Buddhism is a vital part of the artist’s life) and created with ash, perceived not merely as a simple material but a sort of soul, memory and collective blessing.
The technique is meticulous: the artist gathers together the ashes from dozens of temples around the Jiangsu-Zhejiang region, then separates them out according to their colour and grain size, sprinkling them onto the surface until he obtains the image he has in his mind; then he fixes it on a linen cloth.
For the artist, Italy has a wealth of works by the great masters; an endless source of artistic inspiration that lies at the roots of Ash Banquet, inspired by one of the masterpieces of our Italian artistic heritage – The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci.
It’s the artist’s tribute to the city of Milan, explains Elena Geuna, curator of the exhibition held last year at the PAC: “After his important retrospective, the artist was fascinated by The Last Supper; the consistency of the incense and the special technique used by Zhang Huan lend the da Vinci iconography a new degree of spirituality, that brings to mind an ancient, intimate and universal sacredness. The works of Zhang Huan aim to express a modernity instilled with tradition, a universal spirituality that brings together East and West, past and present, in a dialogue between different cultures and religions.”
The other works exhibited show a strong relation with Chinese culture and are inspired by the history of Chinese people. Characters form old pictures, portraits of well-known people, images of the Cultural Revolution as fragments of history reconstructed by the artist who lived these moments himself.
Zhang Huan, Free Tiger Returns to Mountains No.49, 2010
Zhang Huan, Ash Banquet, 2011
Zhang Huan, 1984 National Day No.4, 2011
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