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Zhang Huan (b.1965)
Big Tree (Door Series)
signed 'Zhang Huan', titled and dated '2006'. (on the reverse)
mixed media on wooden door
147.5 x 321.5 cm.(58 1 16 x 126 9/16 in.)
Executed in 2006

Lot Essay

In 2005, Zhang Huan returned to China after having lived in New York for eight years. The return back to where his artistic journey began brought back memories of his youthf, and the land's historical meanings presented themselves as black-and-white images that were flashing before him like rushing waves. Those nostalgic thoughts and reflections then became the inspiration for Zhang's new wood carving series, Memory Doors.

Abandoned old wooden doors were salvaged by the artist at the countryside in China's Shanxi Province, and the sense of accumulated time on the dilapidated doors became the backdrop for the series. The doors were pasted with enlarged and silk-screen black-and-white photographs taken from old magainzes from the 50s and 60s, with time thus contained within the artist's chosen materials and history's tales recounted subtly by the old door panels, rusted nails, and faded photographs. The realistic two-dimensional images were then incorporated into sculptures with volume, as parts of the images were engraved by Zhang on the wooden doors. The background of this particular piece is composed of a relie of two large trees, and at the foreground is a group photograph of a Chinese army platoon. The group photograph seems to have captutred a moment in time; however, those trees that had once existed in that given space are now permanently preserved on the door panel by the aritst.

The aged wooden door is China's modern history, and fine and permanent textures are etched on it due to the progression of time. Moreover, the black-and-white photograph of a moment from the past. The two elements are brought together and juxtaposed, and along with the carving, the entire process represents a retrospection and reevaluation of history, as this artwork by Zhang sparks eternal and capitivating feelings.

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