Saturday, June 28, 2008

Zhang Huan

At some point Zhang Huan turned into one of my favorite artists. Even though I don't like a lot of his work, it is always completely fascinating, and the stuff I do like, I love hugely and want everyone to see. His work is funny and unique and complex and closely tied to culture and history, in complicated and strange ways, sometimes so literal that it's bizarre.

He's one of those artists I can't talk about, so I just want people to look at his stuff. I've tried to explain my love of Giacometti's work, and it sounds similarly stupid. I'm a fan of words, but I'm also a fan of the visceral experience, and I think reading is a visceral experience at its best when it is of itself and not a description of something else. I'm sure this is not always true, but until I read something about Zhang Huan's art that proves me wrong, it holds, at least for his work, at least in my own head. He does say the following about "Memory Doors," a series of carvings in huge discarded wooden doors, overlaid and blending into fragments of photographs dating from the Cultural Revolution. But this statement is more about process than an attempt to describe the work. (Shown: Memory Door Series (Shadow) 2007)

"First I decide which part of the photograph I want to keep in tact [sic, maybe] and which part to remove to create two different spaces that function between reality and fiction and it is the job of the viewer to decide which is reality and which is fiction. I create this juxtaposition of the real and false. Both are false but two false can make a true."

His show at PaceWildenstein right now is fabulous, and includes "Canal Building," "Memory Doors," and "Giant No. 3," discussed here by him on his website. His site and the PaceWildenstein site also have images of these and others, but if you can go to see them in person, they will make more sense--let them startle you. The show is up through July 25, in two separate venues.

No comments: