“Zhang Huan. In the Ashes of History” Opening of the Exhibition
On 8 September 2020, the exhibition “Zhang Huan. In the Ashes of History” opened at the State Hermitage. This is the first personal exhibition in Russia of Zhang Huan, one of the most famous contemporary Chinese artists.
On 7 September there was a press showing of the exhibition and a Forbes Club discussion that was held in the Hermitage Theatre. Participating in the discussion, which was devoted to issues around the collecting and exhibiting of contemporary art, were Mikhail Piotrovsky, General Director of the State Hermitage, the exhibition curator Dmitry Ozerkov, who is head of the Hermitage’s Department of Contemporary Art, and Nikolai Uskov, editor-in-chief of the Forbes magazine, the main media partner of the exhibition. As the Hermitage Director pointed out, “this exhibition has become an act of repentance for the racism and attitude towards tourists from China that has swept the whole world in recent years.” The same day saw an advance viewing of the exhibition for artists, art collectors, critics and representatives of various cultural institutions.
The Pearl Lam Galleries (New York) participated in the events marking the opening of the exhibition.
The artist himself was unable to be present at the opening of his personal exhibition in Russia. In a video address, he thanked the Hermitage administration, the curators and all those who have worked tirelessly on the creation and implementation of this ambitious exhibition project.
The display, housed in the state rooms of the Neva Enfilade of the Winter Palace, contains more than 30 large-scale works, many of which the artist created specially for this exhibition under the impression of a visit to Saint Petersburg. They come together to form several series executed in different techniques. Of particular interest are the works in the series Love, which the artist produced under conditions of isolation, as a concentrated expression of his personal experience of the situation in China and the world, a means of preserving the memory of the victims of the pandemic.
The exhibition “Zhang Huan. In the Ashes of History” has been organized by the State Hermitage as part of the Hermitage 20/21 project with the support of the Pearl Lam Galleries, China Art Foundation, DC Foundation – Diana Chen, Dr Junning Lee & Mrs Xiaojun Lee, Asymmetry Art Foundation and Julian Zhen.
The exhibition curators are Dmitry Ozerkov, head of the State Hermitage’s Department of Contemporary Art, and Anastasia Beyalko, a junior researcher in that department. The invited co‑curator is Wu Hung, a professor at Chicago University in the USA.
A scholarly illustrated catalogue (in Russian and English) has been prepared for the exhibition. It has a foreword by Mikhail Piotrovsky, General Director of the State Hermitage, and texts by Dmitry Ozerkov, Anastasia Beyalko and Wu Hung, the exhibition’s curators.