Zhang Huan - Contemporary Evening Sale London Tuesday, July 1, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Luhring Augustine, New York
    Private Collection, USA
    Barry Friedman, New York
    Private Collection, France

  • Exhibited

    New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China, 11 December, 2013 – 6 April, 2014
    Grand Rapids, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Looking East, Facing West: The World of Zhang Huan, 24 May – 25 August, 2013
    (another example exhibited)
    San Jose Museum of ArtRising Dragon: Contemporary Chinese Photography, February – 30 June 2013 then travelled to
    Krannert Art Museum, Champaign, 12 October – 30 December, 2012, Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah,
    25 March – 2 September, 2012 (another example exhibited)
    Milan, Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea, Zhang Huan: Ashman, 7 July - 12 September, 2010 (another example exhibited)
    New York, The Asia Society, Zhang Huan: Altered States, 2007 - 2008 (another example exhibited)
    Jerusalem, The Israel Museum, Made in China: Chinese Art Now! Works from the Estella Collection, 18 September 2007 – 1 March 2008, then travelled to, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, 16 March – 5 August 2007 (another example exhibited)
    Asia Society, International Centre of Photography, Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China, June - September 2004, then travelled to
    Museum of Contemporary Art, David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, October 2004 - January 2005, Seattle Art Museum, February - May 2005, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, September 2005 - January 2006, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, March - May 2006, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1 July - 17 September 17 2006 (another example exhibited)
    Hamburger Kunsthalle , Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection, Autumn 2006, then travelled to, Kunstmuseum Bern, June - October, 2005 (another example exhibited)

  • Literature

    R. Vine, New China, New Art, Munich: Prestel, 2008, Illustrated p. 111
    M.Chiu, ed., Zhang Huan: Altered States, New York: The Asia Society, 2007 Illustrated pp 129-137
    Made in China: Works from the Estella Collection, Denmark: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2007. Illustrated p. 407
    Made in China: Contemporary Chinese Art at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem: The Israel Museum, 2007
    B. Fibicher and F. Matthias, ed. Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2006. p. 159
    C. Phillips and Wu Hung, Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China, Illinois: Smart Museum, University of Chicago, New York: International Centre of Photography, 2004. p. 46
    Zhu Qi, ed., Chinese Avant-Guarde Photography Since 1990, Changsha, 2004, Illustrated p. 93
    Y. Dziewior, Zhang Huan, Germany: Kunsteverein, Hamburg, 2002
    de Galicia Xunta and Cotthem Gallery, ed., Zhang Huan - Pilgrimage to Santiago, Santiago de Compostelo, 2001, Illustrated p. 85

    Note: Other examples of this work can be found in the following institutions: Centre Pompidou (Paris), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Yale University (Connecticut) Ulrich Museum of Art (Wichita State University)

  • Catalogue Essay

    An iconic work of Chinese Contemporary art, Family Tree boldly exemplifies Zhang’s perception of human nature through self-portraiture.
    This captivating series documents nine sequential photographs that demonstrate Zhang’s preoccupation with the human condition and interfamily
    relationships. Posing questions about personal identity, blood ties and cultural heritage, Zhang commissioned three Chinese calligraphers
    to gradually cover his face with poems, family names and popular stories directly related to his family background from dawn until dusk during the
    course of a single day. The script inscribed on his forehead refers to the traditional story, ‘Move the Mountain by Fool (Yu Kong Yi Shan)’, well known
    across China, which relates to personal endeavour, determination and achievement. Most of the other words derive from concepts of Ancient
    Chinese Physiognomy in art, which seek to map personality traits and fate based on one’s facial characteristics. The complexion diagnosis chart
    illustrated in the woodcut from 1726, 4th year of the Yongzheng reign period of the Qing dynasty, demonstrates the systematic translation of the
    face appearance to personality indicators, where the forehead corresponds to the heart and face and the nose to the spleen and earth.

    Zhang Huan is widely recognized for his early radical performances involving nudity, endurance and pain. In reference to his general artistic
    inspiration, he stated that “I always have a lot of problems in life, and these problems often become physiological conflict. I often find myself
    in conflict among the environment I live in, and feel surrounded by an intolerable self-existence. Therefore, when these problems occur within
    my body, I find that my body is the only direct approach that allows me to feel the world, and also let the world know me.” (Xiao Xiaolan, Zhang
    Huan: Dawn of Time
    , Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing House, Lin Zhihan, Qing Dynasty paediatric complexion diagnosis chart showing each
    of the sectors of the face. Woodcut, Qing Period. Wellcome Library, London. 2010). The early 1990s, years when the avant-garde artistic community
    established itself in Beijing’s East Village, was a crucial period in the development of Chinese performance art. At this time Zhang developed
    one of his seminal performances, ‘12 Meters’, which was staged in a public latrine for several hours while insects crawled over his bare skin covered
    with fish oil, honey and salt. With the emergence of this experimental avant-garde collective, photography surpassed its initial nature as pure
    documentation of performance art to be regarded as a legitimate tool for conceptual art in its own right. Through his association with Beijing’s East
    Village, Zhang’s own artistic practice evolved from the single medium of performance art to an expression of body language through a range of
    media including photography.

    Zhang’s shift away from works of extreme bodily affection to more visually poetic and metaphysical works is associated with his relocation from
    Beijing to New York; a move that incited him to revisit his relationship with his cultural heritage. Executed two years after he moved to New
    York, Family Tree constitutes a more intimate and personal piece which documents the fleeting passage of time and subsequent loss of identity
    through the gradual increase of layers of ink on Zhang’s face and the changing light in the background. By nightfall, the artist’s face was literally
    obscured in thick black ink; a second skin of amassed Chinese calligraphy where his visage becomes completely unrecognizable. Reflecting on this,
    the artist stated “I cannot tell who I am. My identity has disappeared” (Z. Huan, New York, 2000, www.zhanghuan.com). This notable photographic
    work explores the disappearance of personal identity through the complex socio-cultural matrix, reinforcing a core element in Zhang’s oeuvre that
    constantly challenges the inextricable boundaries between his identity and the dominant Chinese culture.


Family Tree

9 chromogenic prints
each 127 x 101 cm (50 x 39 3/4 in.)
Each signed, numbered and dated in Chinese and English ‘2000 Zhang Huan NY ap 1/2.' on a label affixed to the reverse. This work is number 1 of 2 artist's proofs.

£100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for £206,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
[email protected]
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Evening Sale

London Auction 2 July 2014 7pm