Yesterday Robin and I went into Manhattan to see what shows were up in Chelsea and to see the Zhang Huan retrospective at the Asia Society Museum.
I thought the Zhang Huan show was very good. It included several video documentations of performance pieces done in the late '90's to the recent and more traditional work - sculptures, wood carvings-that his studio is producing now.
Of all the work the temple ash sculptures resonated the strongest due to the size and the loaded nature of the materials.
Most of the work was informed by Buddhist principles and all included elements of the artist's past and his observations on both American and Chinese society.
Another highlight of the exhibit was a short film that gave insight into the artist's working process through studio footage and an interview with the artist and his studio assistants.
Next we went down to Chelsea to check out the shows there. We should have gone to Chelsea first because after the thoughtful, weighty work in the Zhang Huan show the efforts of younger artists barely out of grad school dealing with pop culture or TP'ing yards in CT during high school seemed pale and frivolous. And the pervasive and purposefully "bad painting" style a'la Karen Kilimnik was unsatisfying after the expert craftsmanship of the Zhang Huan show.