Thursday, 20 June 2013 12:11

The Art of Place

Written by  Alexandra Fluegel
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Looking East, Facing West: The World of Zhang Huan
Frederik Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids
Through Aug. 25
$4-$12, children 2 and under free
meijergardens.org, (616) 957-1580

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park transforms into Chinese Contemporary artist Zhang Huan's world throughout the end of summer, featuring a diverse body of work that contrasts and
blends two sides of the globe.

"Looking East, Facing West: The World of Zhang Huan" is now on display at the Gardens and will run through Aug. 25. The retrospective explores the work of Huan both thematically and artistically through his sculptures, photography and installations, and is the first of its kind in the American Midwest.

"Zhang Huan is among the most important voices in contemporary art today," said Joseph Becherer, vice president and chief curator. "From his vantage point working in China and the United States, he offers insights and inspiration for the global cultural community."

The Shanghai-based artist was born in central China and studied oil painting at Beijing's Central Academy of Fine Arts, where he was first exposed to western forms of contemporary art, including conceptual and performance art. In 1998, he moved to New York, where he continued the performance work that gained him acclaim in the United States.

Huan's performance work focused on themes of isolation and East/West dichotomy, inspired and influenced by his time in New York. In 2006, he returned to China to reconnect with his heritage and has since been creating work that explores Chinese history and spiritual tranquility.

"Meijer Gardens is thrilled to present an exhibition so distinctly composed of such diverse media that focuses merited attention on the master," Becherer said.

The exhibition's focus is a number of sculptural works, including "Long Island Buddha," a steel and copper piece Meijer Gardens recently acquired as part of its permanent collection. The sculptures are inspired by historical models and antique fragments of Buddha-related imagery.

Also included in the exhibition are photographic installations documenting a variety of Huan's performance pieces, as well as a DVD showing his performance titled, "To Raise the Water Level in a Fishpond," which features 40 laborers entering a pond and changing its levels, a nod to the importance of workers in society.

Huan's earlier works more directly addressed politically charged themes, and it was during this time that he discovered that his own body could be used as a form of expression. Another featured piece titled "Family Tree" features photographs of Huan's face becoming covered in calligraphy, which Becherer said begins as an homage to calligraphy, but eventually Huan becomes anonymous. A large number of the works touch on the importance of Buddhism in the artist's life, including a number of his revolutionary ash paintings, composed of discarded incense ash from temple sites in and around Shanghai.

The exhibition is one of the artist's first major show in the United States and will include a number of special events, including a walk through the exhibition led by Becherer on Aug. 6.


OTHER ART EVENTS 

The Book Illustrations of Dov Talpaz and Adam Dahlstrom
Holland Area Arts Council, 150 E. 8th Street
Through Aug. 17
Mon., Tue. & Thurs.: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Wed. & Fri.: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sat: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
hollandarts.org

Experience the art of collaboration through the exhibition of more than 30 illustrations by two friends. The project began while the two men were working together in New York City at Tribeca Hardware. The drawings depict scenes from collective favorite literature including Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck, The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkein, and Dune by Frank Herbert.

 

The Market Avenue for the Arts
Division Avenue – between Fulton and Cherry
July 13, 12-8 p.m.
avenueforthearts.com

The annual street market brings tons of local artists, musicians and artisans into the heart of the city to showcase their wares. Gallery spaces along the avenue will have open studios, allowing visitors to see what they have cooking, and the sidewalks will be filled with unique work and items from local artists and vendors. Live music and entertainment will also be featured periodically throughout the day.

 

Summer Corridor Series: Chris Cox – Opening Reception
Saugatuck Center for the Arts
July 11, 6-8 p.m.
sc4a.org, (269) 857-2399

One of the talented founders of Gaspard Gallery, Chris Cox, is the focus of this solo show featuring his most recent body of work Spiritual Lake. The photographs juxtapose figural subjects with the stunning surroundings of Michigan Lakes and shorelines. The work is candid and striking, and according to Cox, is characterized by the relationship between the photographer, the subject, and the space that they dwell. The Summer Corridor Series is a new program that offers young, up-and-coming artists the opportunity to show their work in a professional setting.

More in this category: « Hop Into Art Hey, Ladies »
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