Zhang Huan: 49 Days

Zhang Huan initially gained renown for extreme performance art incorporating endurance and pain. In 2006 Zhang became a Buddhist lay disciple, which influenced his subsequent work. He has produced paintings using incense ash found in temples and monumental bronze sculptures of disembodied Buddha parts. His current work exhibited at Blum & Poe, Los Angeles consists of 200 year-old reclaimed bricks on steel armatures in the shape of pigs and skulls. The series, titled 49 Days, is an explicit reference to the traditional Chinese Buddhist concept of purgatory in which the actions of the deceased are judged for seven weeks between death and rebirth. In a more contemporary context, 49 Days also recalls an unlikely hero of the devastating earthquake that hit China’s Sichuan province on May 12, 2008: a pig dubbed Zhu Gangqiang (Cast-Iron Pig) that survived on rain water and rotten wood beneath rubble for forty-nine days during a national tragedy that killed nearly seventy thousand people. Essay by Winston Kyan. Los Angeles: Blum & Poe, 2011 Hardcover, 47 pps. ISBN: 9780966350319

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