The 22nd edition of the Pino Pascali Award will open on the 7th of March at 6 pm. This year, the prize will be awarded to Zhang Huan, as previously announced in Venice in the context of the exhibition Pino Pascali – dall’Immagine alla Forma (From Image to Shape). The prize has been awarded by a jury composed of the curators Maria Grazia Costantino and Marco Scotini, and presided by the director of the Pino Pascali Museum, Rosalba Branà. The award ceremony will be postponed: the artist will not be able to attend the opening due to the current international health restrictions.
“Opening Zhang Huan’s exhibition wants to be a message of friendship and sympathy towards the Chinese people who are currently going through difficult times. This project revolves around one of the best internationally known Chinese artists. It also represents an opportunity to promote the Chinese culture on a territory like Apulia that has long been working towards building a fruitful dialogue with China. To this end, contemporary art is a fundamental element of cultural, social and economical development and the Pino Pascali Foundation has always been very glad to offer their competences and skills towards establishing intercultural relations between nations and peoples”.
The title of the exhibition is 55 Love (as the artist, born in the Henan province in 1965, turns 55 this year). It is an actual act of love towards art and life, with a particular focus on his performances in the United States, Italy and China. Important photographic and video works (coming from italian collections) retrace Zhang Huan’s artistic career from the 1990s until today. An emotional visual journey dedicated to inalienable universal values. The exhibition contains strong images and it is therefore aimed exclusively at an adult audience.
“Zhang Huan tackles the complexity of life: history, identity, violence and religion are the core elements of his poetry. From performance to photography, from sculpture to painting and video, the artist tends towards the too often forgotten harmony between man and nature. With amazing emotional transport, Zhang Huan captures the moment in which matter and spirit meet” – the jury explained. This exhibition opens the Museum’s 2020 programme, which marks the 10th anniversary of the Pino Pascali Foundation, established in Polignano a Mare in 2010.
Zhang Huan attended Beijing’s Academy of Fine Arts where he studied painting. After spending 8 years in New York, the artist worked and lived in Shanghai. At the start of his career, in the early 1990’s, he mainly expressed his art through his body, often naked, exposed to highly dangerous conditions. His language is deliberately excessive and extreme, focused on political, cultural and social issues that are relevant to Chinese history. His performances, which are indecent and stage physical sufferings, have made him famous and well-known internationally. Performances realised during his American period are often complexed and involve a great number of participants. After returning to China, the artist focused mainly on installations, sculpture and painting. For the latter in particular, he introduced the use of an unusual material that is very dear to him: ashes from incense that he collects in temples. The artist finds in this material a very symbolic value as it relates to collective memories and life cycle – thus suggesting the possibility of a spiritual rebirth. Among the most recent solo exhibitions we mention: PAC, Milan (2010), Forte di Belvedere and Palazzo Vecchio, Florence (2013), Carriageworks,Sydney (2015), Storm King Art Center, New York (2014), Where can the dust Alight, Pace Gallery Hong Kong, 2016 and Let there be light, Pace Gallery New York, 2015. His work was part of the exhibition ‘Il mondo vi appartiene’ (The World Belongs to you) (2011-12) at Palazzo Grassi and at Faena Art Festival 2019 in Miami. He has taken part in the Venice Biennale, Lyon Biennale, Yokohama Triennale, Gwangju Biennale and Biennale of Shanghai.