August 30 2014

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Couture’s Confucius


What makes Chinese artist Zhang Huan a fashion darling? It’s not immediately obvious. Zhang, who has traipsed around the Whitney Museum while encased in raw meat, created enormous Buddhas from cowhide, and painted large-scale canvases using incense ash—all in the name of art—has also previously been commissioned by the likes of LVMH chief Bernard Arnault, Christian Dior, and Diane von Furstenberg. His latest exhibition, which inaugurated Shanghai’s newly reopened Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) on Friday, may offer an oblique clue.

Called Q Confucius, the artist’s largest solo exhibition in China takes the ancient philosopher as its subject and blows him up as a 16-foot-high, mechanically breathing replica; in incense ash paintings; and as an animatronic statue in a three-story-high cage populated by nine live monkeys. So is there a fashion twist to it? Perhaps the answer is in irony. “As Mao said, ‘Art comes from daily life,’ ” Zhang says with a wink. “And fashion is really about daily life.”

Zhang Huan: Q Confucius is open through January 29, 2012, at the Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, China.

Photo: Courtesy Photo

Dept. of Culture