Zhang Huan – Spring Poppy Fields, Pace London, 6 Burlington Gardens, London, until 31st May 2014
The fourteen oils and linen in varying hues are a reflection of the Chinese artist Zhang Huan’s travels through Tibet, Nepal, India and Bhutan. His use of Buddhist icons and death rituals in his work has been a component of it since he became a lay Buddhist about nine years ago. Huan’s depiction of skulls is both a reflection of this but also his earlier interest in performance art. Their repetitious use also symbolises the Tibetan beliefs of endless deaths and the Buddhist cycle of reincarnation and the opiate effects of the poppy.
The artist’s technique of using thick pigment in an almost pointillist way means that from a distance the works are a canvas of an almost psychedelic palette, while closer to, the aforementioned component parts of the imagery and the variations in colour become clear.
It is perhaps the last point that led two people I spoke to when visiting the gallery to say albeit with a sense of amusement and naughtiness that it was slightly like seeing wallpaper samples because of the repetition of the design in different colours. Still it is always good to hear what people really think. Personally I think you should go and judge for yourself…you may be pleasantly surprised.