Zhang Huan, Pagoda, 2009 // Gray brick, steel, taxidermied pig // 244 (height) x 335 (diameter) inches (619.8 x 851 centimeters) // Photo credit: Samuel Kahn // Image courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, CA
ZHANG HUAN / 49 Days // May 21 until July 9, 2011 // BLUM & POE // Los Angeles
Blum & Poe is pleased to present 49 Days, a monumental exhibition of new brick sculpture by Chinese-based artist Zhang Huan. This is Zhang Huan's first solo exhibition with Blum & Poe in LA.
Zhang has developed a vast body of work ranging from endurance-based body performance (while living in New York) to large-scale public commissions, painting and sculpting with incense ash and even reinterpreting Handel's classic opera Semele at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Belgium and the Poly Theater, Beijing.
Central to his exhibition at Blum & Poe will be Pagoda, 2009, an imposing brick sculpture originally displayed at the Shanghai Art Museum. The twenty-two foot tall bell shaped pagoda is comprised of salvaged brick collected from demolition sites surrounding Shanghai (centuries old buildings that have been bulldozed in place of modern architectural progress). Near the center of the structure is a carved window from which a taxidermied pig periodically emerges and from where clouds of incense ash are dramatically emitted into the gallery.
Pagoda serves partly as a tribute to Zhu Gangqiang, or the "Cast-Iron Pig", now famous for having survived 49 days in rubble, following China's historic 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Upon hearing its story of survival, Zhang negotiated the pig's purchase and has subsequently adopted him into his studio, employing a full-time caretaker and making his likeness a central part of his artistic practice. The number "49" (from which the show takes its title) is dually significant, both for its relationship to Zhu Gangqiang's story and for its connection to Buddhist thought, as the Buddhists believe 49 days is the amount of time ones soul remains on earth between death and reincarnation.