Zhang Huan: Horse No. 2

Zhang Huan 
Born 1965, Anyang, China; Lives in Shanghai and New York

Horse No. 2,  2019
Incense Ash on Linen
150 x 100 cm
Sold for HKD 250,000 (est. USD 32,500). Price includes buyer's premium.

Zhang Huan is the only artist represented in this special section who is not an alumnus of the ACC grant program, rendering his donation all the more inspiring. Zhang Huan embraces and enacts ACC’s belief in the power of cultural exchange to inspire individuals, build bridges, and bring nations together in shared understanding through the universal language of art. An ardent supporter of ACC’s mission of advancing international dialogue, understanding, and respect, he generously responded to ACC’s request for participation in this auction by offering Horse No. 2, an iconic work from his celebrated series of “ash” paintings.

Many ACC grantees maintain that it is by leaving one’s home country that one gains a greater insight into one’s own cultural context. Following a decade of creating conceptual artwork in New York, it was upon Zhang Huan’s return to China in the late 2000s that he found his characteristic medium: ash painting. This unusual technique sprang from an epiphany of sorts. For Zhang Huan, “incense ash is not incense ash, not a kind of material, but collective souls, collective memories and collective blessings.” In Zhang Huan: The Ash Works of Zhang Huan, Nina Miall notes: “it was the transcendent beauty of ash, rediscovered while burning incense at Shanghai’s Longhua Temple, which provided the sought-after ‘ingredient’ for his extensive body of new work…for an artist embarking on experiments with new media, the allure of ash was manifold. In addition to the cultural and historical importance, incense ash held a crumbly aesthetic appeal, and more importantly, was redolent of an intensely practiced spirituality, the material embers of an immaterial act.”

This same catalog describes the actual process Zhang Huan utilizes to create these haunting, beautiful works.  “With broad brushstrokes, Zhang applies a foundation of powdered ash to canvasses with carefully prepared adhesive grounds, before building up the surface texture with larger flakes and joss stick remnants….Working up the larger paintings demands such an energetic dispersal of ash on the part of the artist that it assumes a performative quality, inviting knowing parallels with the “action painting” of Jackson Pollock.”

ACC is honored to count Zhang Huan in our community of friends, alumni, and other individuals whose support makes our work possible.

© Zhang Huan Studio