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Indepth Arts News:

"Zhang Huan: Altered States"
2007-09-06 until 2008-01-21
Asia Society
New York, NY, USA United States of America

Asia Society Museum presents the first-ever museum retrospective of Zhang Huan, one of the most important and widely recognized Chinese artists working in the United States and China. Zhang Huan: Altered States includes 55 of the artist’s major works produced over the past 15 years in Beijing, New York, and Shanghai including photographs and sculpture. Born in 1965 in An Yang, Henan Province, China, Zhang Huan is best-known for his controversial early works in performance art. When he began his career in Beijing, his performances focused on physical endurance, pushing the limits of what was acceptable to authorities in the early 1990s, post-Tiananmen.

In 1998, he moved to New York where he saw greater freedoms and established his international career with larger-scale performances that often involved the participation of scores of volunteers. Last year, Zhang Huan moved to Shanghai, abandoning performance art in favor of works in sculpture,

installation art, and painting. Many of these show greater connections to Chinese heritage and history. The exhibition is organized around these three distinct phases of the artist’s work.

“Asia Society is thrilled to present the first-ever museum retrospective of Zhang Huan, one of the most important Chinese artists working today,” says Asia Society Museum Director Melissa Chiu, curator of the exhibition. “Significantly, the exhibition is Asia Society’s first retrospective exhibition of works by a living artist, signaling a greater commitment towards presenting the work of living artists. Although the exhibition charts one artist’s personal journey, in many ways his experience is not unlike that of other Chinese artists of his generation, many of whom left China under difficult circumstances, found acceptance and success on the international scene, and are now choosing to return.”

Zhang Huan: Altered States is accompanied by a fully illustrated hardcover 177 page catalogue that includes scholarly essays by curator Melissa Chiu and art critic Eleanor Heartney, first-hand accounts of Zhang Huan’s early performance works in Beijing by the artist Kong Bu, and an essay by Zhang Huan who provides his own perspective on his art and life.

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