The idea of collective memory its composition and dissolution is further explored in a series of haunting monochromatic paintings and sculptural busts made from the ash from incense sticks burned in Shanghai temples. Collected weekly and sorted into palettes of varying tones and grades (from the finest dust to coarse flakes), the ash signifies the hopes, dreams and blessings of different generations. While possessing a poetic sensibility that is distinctly Chinese, these heavily-impastoed works also consciously reference European art history, whether the textural forms of Alberto Giacometti or the material density of Anselm Kiefer. Above all, their incinerated surfaces connote the vulnerability of corporeal existence.
Born in 1965 in He Nan Province, Zhang Huan studied at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. His work is held in a number of important public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Saatchi collection, London, the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.