April 1, 2014
Chinese artist Zhang Huan—whose hallucinatory interlocking skull paintings were featured here in September—has never been shy about uncomfortable subject matter. It’s little surprise, then, that upon his return to China in 2005 after eight years in New York, he headed right for Tibet. As a practicing Buddhist himself, Huan’s travels there deeply affected him, especially encountering the lingering echoes of the Communist demolition of Tibet’s Buddhist monasteries during the Cultural Revolution. His creative mind absorbed the experience and the resultant artwork went big: a series of monumental sculptures of distorted and disembodied Buddha fragments.
In 2010, Huan gifted the enormous piece seen above, Three Legged Buddha, to the Storm King Art Center in New York’s Hudson River Valley, and this provocative work will anchor a new exhibit at the center, Zhang Huan: Evoking Tradition (see more images after the jump). From May 3 to November 9, several more of Huan’s sculptures from this series will be installed outdoors, along with the first-ever showing of the new Milly’s Temple, forming a unique enclave in Storm King’s sprawling, 500-acre sculpture garden. A more intimate exhibit will be on display inside, featuring examples of Huan’s creative process, as well as smaller sculptures fashioned from wood, steel, and ash collected from incense offerings made in temples throughout his home city of Shanghai.
Here are several examples of Huan’s work from the exhibit: