Zhang Huan, Sea No. 18 (2012). Incense ash on linen. 150 × 280 cm. © Zhang Huan. Courtesy Pace Gallery.
"Pure and clean is the lotus,
Each petal supports hundreds of millions of worlds.
Carried by prayer wheels that spin day and night,
They grow out of the Xiang Ocean and expand endlessly."
– The Praise of Painting on Vairocana's Akanistha Ghanavyuha by Yuxi Liu
Pace Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of four paintings by Zhang Huan at its East Hampton gallery from September 2 to 19. The show, titled Living towards Nothingness, will feature works from Zhang's celebrated Ash Painting series, which the artist began in 2005 as part of his explorations of ephemerality. Drawn from a body of 30 paintings featuring semi-abstracted depictions of the sea rendered in incense ash on linen, this grouping includes works from 2011 and 2012.
Zhang, who has collected ashes from temples in Shanghai and nearby provinces and maintains a warehouse for the material, has said that "incense burning awakens the spiritual impulse embedded deeply in our subconscious." In Zhang's belief, incense ash "speaks to the fulfilment of millions of hopes, dreams, and blessings" and serves as a material embodiment of prayers and their makers. The series is deeply engaged with the artist's Buddhist practice, and he uses different tones, gradients, and textures of ash to forge his contemplative works. The artist presented a selection of Ash Paintings at his 2020 survey at the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. With that exhibition, Zhang became the first Chinese contemporary artist to have a solo exhibition at the Russian institution.
About the artist
Born in 1965 in Anyang, Henan, China, Zhang Huan is one of the most vital, influential and provocative contemporary artists working today.
The layers of ideas the artist explored in his early performance art, conceived of as existential explorations and social commentaries, have carried through to the more traditional studio practice he embraced upon moving to Shanghai in 2005, after living and working for eight years in New York City.
Notable one-person exhibitions and installations include: Altered States (2007–08) at the Asia Society, New York; Three-Legged Buddha, Royal Academy of Arts, Annenberg Courtyard, London (2007–08); Dawn of Time, Shanghai Art Museum (2010); Hope Tunnel, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2010), Soul and Matter, Forte di Belvedere and Palazzo Vecchio (2013); Looking East, Facing West: The World of Zhang Huan, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids, Michigan, (2013); Evoking Tradition, Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, New York (2014); and My Temple, erected in Krauthuegel, a city park in Saltzburg, Austria (2015). In 2018, MoMA PS1, New York, exhibited Land: Zhang Huan and Li Binyuan.
About the exhibition
Dates: Sep 2–Sep 19, 2021
Venue: 68 Park Place, East Hampton
Courtesy of the Artist and Pace Gallery.