May 2009



Zhang Huan, China’s performance artist, sculptor and painter, known for the raw physicality of his public acts and the intelligent complexity of his work, presents a series of previously unseen pieces at PROJECTB CONTEMPORARY ART.

Six Ash Paintings will go on show for the first time in Italy, in the space directed by Emanuele Bonomi, from May to July 2009. 

Ash – an extraordinary material: fragile, ancient, an everyday substance retrieved from the burning of devotional incense – is treated by Zhan Huan as if it was paint applied directly onto the canvas. The image is composed in dark and light tones with nuances ranging from an almost imperceptible dusting to more palpable shades. 

The works take us back into the dimension of memory, by evoking ancient spiritualities, but they also deal with contemporary themes, icons and symbols of our own time, like portraits, skulls and flags; thus Zhang Huan reclaims one of the defining features of his art: a contemporary reworking of tradition. 

With his strong links to Chinese culture and to Buddhism, the artist has modulated his artistic activity over the years through various techniques and materials, drawing on a vast universe of eastern allusions and inspirations, in which most often man and the reflections surrounding mankind are protagonists. 

During the process of a performance I exploit to the utmost the concrete possibility of learning from personal experience. But it is only at the end of an action that I finally understand what I have done, what I have expressed. This is how the artist describes one of the cornerstones of his work: personal experience, interpretation in the first person. 

Born in 1965, Zhang Huan lives and works in Shangai and New York. His works are held in the collections of the most important museums in the world, such as MoMA, the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan in New York, the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, S.M.A.K. in Ghent, Belgium and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. 

His fullest monograph was published by Charta on the occasion of his most important itinerant exhibition, Altered States, on show in Vancouver and New York and the exhibition Tri Postal in Lille, France. 

The Zhang Huan exhibition consolidates the important program of exhibitions of ProjectB Contemporary Art, which continues to alternate names internationally renowned in contemporary art, like Marc Quinn and Keith Tyson, with young artists like Varela y Villela and Santy.