top of page

Zhang Huan

Artist 215

Zhang Huan Fluidity in Identity Zhang Huan (born 1965) is a Chinese artist based in Shanghai and New York City. He specializing in painting and performance art.

He is primarily known for his performance work, but also for photography and sculpture. Zhang's performance art always involves his body in one way or another, usually naked, occasionally involving masochistic actions.

Zhang Huan's work is at times confrontational, visceral and personally dangerous, and it engages both implicitly and explicitly with problems of overpopulation, cultural erasure, political repression, poverty, famine, and want. He is one of the most significant contemporary artists working in China today, and a pioneer of Performance art within the country from the early 1990s.

Although living in New York for a time, Zhang is part of a generation of contemporary Chinese artists that believe that modern China is the right context for the production of their work, with all its contradictions and difficulties as an emerging global superpower. Similarly the theme of the body and is evident in his sculptures and by using quasi-religious ritual, he seeks to discover the point at which the spiritual can manifest via the corporeal. He uses simple repetitive gestures, usually regarded as meaningless work-for-work's-sake chores. Buddhism, with its temple music, sculptures and philosophy are a prevalent theme in Zhang Huan's work.

In painting he employs an almost pointillist technique, Zhang Huan’s application of the thick pigment performs an optical illusion. From a distance, the canvas metamorphoses into that of psychedelic colours. Upon closer inspection, the colours separate and the individual features emerge from their abstraction. Seemingly uncontrolled and haphazard, the placement of the works on the canvas is misleading. Zhang's work often embodies the unique cultural context of contemporary China, which is caught between the capitalist impulse and the communist state apparatus.

With regards to his work Zhang Huan has stated “I want it to be 70 per cent beautiful, 15 per cent surrealistically beautiful, and the rest so beautiful that nobody can bear it.” I love the inability to place him any box. Each of his mediums reflect different aspects of himself and argue different messages. #ZhangHuan #Identityart #sculpture #performanceart #painting #artblog #artistoftheday #artistsoninstagram #artresearch #celebratingart #investigatingart #blog #artist #art #contemporaryart #artistbio #arthistory #artresearch

Sources consulted:


bottom of page