Chinese artist debuts at Russian museum with ash art

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/9/13 22:19:34 Last Updated: 2020/9/13 12:19:34



Photos: Courtesy of Pearl Lam Galleries and the State Hermitage Museum

How can incense ashes be turned into art? A new exhibition in Russia from Chinese artist Zhang Huan seeks to answer the question. The In the Ashes of History exhibition at the State Hermitage Museum features the artist's unique approach to art.

The exhibition consists of more than 30 artworks. Zhang's "Memory Doors", from his "My Winter Palace" project, is one of the highlight of his oeuvre for this exhibition. The artist took inspiration from his visit to the Hermitage, and played with everyday materials such as incense ashes and wooden doors with dexterous artistic skills to create 13 carved wooden bas-reliefs that illustrates historical moments and figures. 

The work itself is a homage which the artist paid to both the Hermitage collection and master artists such as Alexander Sokurov and Alexander Shishkin-Hokusai, who have greatly inspired him to seek his own unique artistic style. 

The artist is always daring in action but also intricate when it comes to his thoughts as he constantly searches for metaphorical meanings in the world.

"I realized that burning ashes are not what they seem to be, they are our soul, our spirit, and they are the memory and desire of a country," Zhang noted during one of his exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2012. 

The artist first established his career as an oil painter and transitioned to create performance and conceptual artworks by using unconventional materials as a medium to deliver his provocative aesthetic opinions on subjects such as religion, culture, politics, poverty and so forth. 

His exhibition is part of the Hermitage 20/21 project, which was founded in 2007 with the objectives of collecting and exhibiting contemporary artworks worldwide. 

The exhibition is scheduled through November 8. 

Photo: Courtesy of Pearl Lam Galleries and the State Hermitage Museum


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