Exhibition features Vincent van Gogh self-portraits in the style of classical Zen portraits of Bodhidharma

Vincent Van Gogh by Zhang Hongtu
Vincent Van Gogh by Zhang Hongtu

The exhibition "Zhang Hongtu: Van Gogh/Bodhidharma” will open on Friday, February 16, in the Charles Chu Asian Art Reading Room at the Charles E. Shain Library, featuring internationally renowned New York-based Chinese artist Zhang Hongtu’s "Van Gogh-Bodhidharma" series. The opening and artist’s talk from 2-3:15 p.m., and reception and gallery walk from 3:15-4:30 p.m. are free and open to the public. The exhibition will run through April 15.

The thirty-nine ink paintings by Zhang Hongtu  (2007-2014) represent a “remaking” of all the extant Vincent van Gogh self-portraits in the style of classical Zen portraits of Bodhidharma, the founding patriarch of Zen Buddhism. Most of the paintings have never before been exhibited in public, and are being exhibited together for the first time here in the United States. In addition, the artist has created a new video installation specifically for this exhibition.

Zhang was born in Gansu in 1943 into a traditional Chinese Muslim family and attended the Central Academy of Arts and Crafts in Beijing in the 1960s before and during the Cultural Revolution. He moved to New York in 1982 where he has lived and worked for nearly four decades. Zhang belongs to the first generation of post-Cultural Revolution artists from mainland China, including prominent names such as Ai Weiwe, Gu Wenda, Xu Bing, and Cai Guoqiang who chose New York as their base and succeeded in breaking new paths.

Zhang, one of the most senior yet probably the most young-spirited among the group, has been a crucial player in the movement and in history where contemporary Chinese and American art, East and West, meet. His most recent solo exhibition was “Zhang Hongtu,” a major survey of his long creative career, at the Queens Museum, New York in 2015-2016, and accompanied by an exhibition catalog “Zhang Hongtu: Expanding Visions of a Shrinking World" (Queens Museum/Duke University Press, 2015). His work was also featured in the recent exhibition, “Art and China After 1989: Theatre of the World,” at the Guggenheim Museum, New York in 2017-2018.  

For more information, contact Yibing Huang, yhua@conncoll.edu.

February 15, 2018