Zhang Huan – Memory Doors (Zurich)

Zhang Huan’s Solo Exhibition at Haunch of Venison Zurich

The fascinating Chinese artist Zhang Huan presents from January 23rd to March 28th 2009 his solo exhibition “Memory Doors” in the gallery Haunch of Venison Zurich.1 Not least, a selection of Zhang Huan’s works could be recently admired in the impressive group exhibition “The Revolution Continues: New Chinese Art” in the new Saatchi Gallery in London.2

Zhang Huan gained fame with his performances such as “12 square meters”: in 1994, covered in fish oil and honey, he squatted for one hour in a less-than-clean public lavatory in the outskirts of Beijing, as if he were a human flycatcher.3 As he is dealing with Chinese history, there are references to war and the military in his work again and again.

At Haunch of Venison Zurich, he is showing a selection of his recent work with different media. Since 2006, he is working on the eponymous “Memory Doors”: screen prints of historical photos from the 1920s to the 1980s are affixed to heavy wooden doors from the Chinese province of Shanxi. Areas of the doors are carved into and thus continue the photos. The works show historical, political and military events (such as the exhibited work Gun) and labour scenes, but also individual memories and regional myths.

Zhang Huan uses incense ash for many of his works, including the exhibited sculptures Ash Life No. 7 and Ash Portrait No. 28. He regards that special material as an embodiment of a national collective memory: “The ash is spiritual material. Like a memory it contains all sorts of dreams and blessings, hopes and wishes.”4 Not just the aforementioned sculptures, but also works such as Salute gain their impression by the applied ash: there it was applied to canvas, together with charcual and resin, showing the firing of a light AA gun battery at night. Unfortunately, as so often, digital images are only insufficient to show the quality of such works.

The artist, born in An Yang (Henan, China) lives and works in Shanghai, whereto he returned in 2005.

Further links:Zhang Huan (official Website)


Haunch of Venison: Zhang Huan

Zhang Huan (Saatchi Gallery)

Zhang Huan (Wikipedia entry)

Zhang Huan (artnet)

  1. Haunch of Venison Zurich AG, Lessingstrasse 5, CH-8002 Zurich; Tu-Fr 1400-1800h, Sa 1100-1600h
  2. October 9th 2008 – January 18th 2009
  3. All visitors to China know what a “less-than-clean public lavatory” means in that country.
  4. Interview in Art, 08/2008, p. 42-51 (German)

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