Zhang Huan’s Sydney Buddha Astonishes at CarriageWorks
Solo exhibition features ash and aluminum buddhas.
Zhang Huan has brought his giant ash and aluminum buddhas to Australia, with a solo exhibition of opening tonight at the CarriageWorks art space in Sydney.
There are two parts, a five-meter ash buddha and an aluminum mold. The pieces were previously exhibited in 2010 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei as Taiwan Buddha, and have also been shown in Florence. They have been renamed Sydney Buddha for this exhibition.
There will also be a performance element to this exhibition. The metal struts supporting the face and hand of the ash sculpture will be removed at the opening, causing these parts to collapse.
Zhang Huan says the ash carries the “collected memories and hopes of the Chinese people” and took three years to collect from Buddhist temples in and around Shanghai. He said he feels these buddhas are more meditative than his early performance work. “This change [in my practice] is natural and is also destiny; I’m doomed to change,” he says. “There is nothing that never changes.”
The exhibition is the largest showing of his work in Australia to date. His last solo was in a commercial space in Sydney in 2006, and a smaller buddha, the Berlin Buddha, is currently in the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart. This work has remained remarkably well preserved but the conditions in Sydney, with CarriageWorks’ large skylights, may be more brutal.
Zhang Huan: Sydney Buddha is the third major annual international exhibition brought to CarriageWorks by director Lisa Havilah. Past artists are Song Dong and Christian Boltanski. Havilah’s decision to show artists like these who have not been widely seen in Australia has been popular, helping her quadruple attendance figures at CarriageWorks over the past three years.
Zhang Huan: Sydney Buddha runs until 15 March 2015 at CarriageWorks, 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh, NSW, from January 8–26.
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