Blind Girl

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Blind Girl

2007
Paintings
Ash on linen
113 1/2 x 142 1/2 x 2 1/4 in. (288.29 x 361.95 x 5.72 cm)
Gift of Audrey Irmas (M.2010.191)
Not currently on public view

Curator Notes

One of the most prolific conceptual artists working today, Zhang Huan’s practice focuses on no one particular media but rather incorporates a wide variety of tactics – from performance to photography,...
One of the most prolific conceptual artists working today, Zhang Huan’s practice focuses on no one particular media but rather incorporates a wide variety of tactics – from performance to photography, installation, sculpture and painting – utilizing each method for its physical and symbolic associations. Zhang followed a classical curriculum at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing where he was trained as a painter. But shortly after graduation from the academy in 1993, he began to feel limited by painting and sought to bring his subject matter alive, using his own body. “I always felt distant from the painting I was working on. Using my own body, I could achieve much more: I could express myself in an immediate and very powerful way. It almost felt like a natural step to evolve into performance.” After initially creating a series of body oriented solo performances he made several group collaborations. His late 1990s performance works, such as To Add One Meter to an Anonymous Mountain or To Raise the Water Level in a Fishpond have become iconic images of contemporary art. His recent work represents a return to more traditional forms of media and because of his classical training it was not surprising that the artist would consider the canvas as an extension of his own body. The material volatility of his ash works move beyond contemplations of his own physicality to the consideration of broader phenomenological questions. The large work, at almost ten by twelve feet, Blind Girl, 2007, represents the best of his ash paintings. After visiting the Longhua Temple in Shanghai he noticed that as people began to burn incense and pray, the temple floor was covered with ash leaking from the giant incense burner. “Seeing this image of ash conjured a feeling inside of me: it was a beautiful material and it moved me greatly. These ash remains speak to the fulfillment of millions of hopes, dreams, and blessings. It was here that I finally discovered the ingredient I had been looking for to pay the way for new work.” (Franklin Sirmans, The Terri and Michael Smooke Department Head and Curator of Contemporary Art)
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