“Some people ask if I am Buddhist. Inside, I’m Buddhist; outside, I’m an artist.”
In 2006, Zhang Huan established a studio in Shanghai, where he began to seek greater connections with Chinese heritage and history. This marked a new direction in his work, as he turned from performance art to sculpture, painting, and installation. Through creating large-scale sculpture in diverse media, such as ash from local Buddhist temples, and with found objects, such as doors from the Chinese countryside, Zhang Huan has explored new ways to render his interest in the body and its language.
A significant aspect of Zhang Huan’s new work revolves around his interest in Buddhism. Although Buddhist themes had figured indirectly into his early work, they took on a more prominent role after a visit to Tibet in 2005. There, Zhang Huan began to collect fragments of Buddhist sculptures, which he then used as models for massive copper sculptures, some of which are displayed in this exhibition. Upon his return to Shanghai, Zhang Huan began to collect ash from local Buddhist temples for use in sculptures and paintings. The use of burnt incense, the product of religious offerings, strengthens the link between his art and Buddhist practices.