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Zhang Huan: Family Tree

Born in 1965, Anyang, China. Currently lives and works between Shanghai and New York.


Zhang Huan draws parallels from his own and China’s past to create unlike performance scenarios. The layers of ideas the artist explores in his art are conceived as existential explorations and social commentaries as seen in Family Tree (2001) – a performance piece containing nine chromogenic prints. Three calligraphers wrote a combination of names known to Zhang Huan, personal stories, traditional tales and random thoughts on his face. The written text on his face would follow the daylight turning slowly into the darkness of the night. His identity slowly blurs and disappears through the story and thoughts. The photographical series becomes a symbol on how a mysterious fate surrounds our human existence which we can do nothing about, nothing to control the outcome, it will just happened.

Zhang Huan is a performance artist, painter, photographer, and sculptor best known for performances that test his own physical and mental endurance, create symbolic self-portraits, and question the role of family and culture in shaping our way of thinking. He has had numerous gallery and museum exhibitions all over the world with prominent works such as My New York (2002), Three Heads Six Arms (2008) and 12 Square Meters (1994). Represented by Pace Gallery in New York, Huan has held solo exhibitions at many galleries and museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Shanghai Art Museum, and the Haunch of Venison Gallery in London.

Click here to follow Zhang Huan on Instagram.

Edited by Nichlas E. Kofoed