Stunned Speechless: Museum Show by Zhang Linhai
City: Beijing
Duration: 2008-11-19 ~ 2008-11-29
Venue: Today Art Museum
Participating Artist(s): Zhang Linhai
Host(s): Today Art Museum

Today Art Museum is proud to present Zhang Lin Hai’s solo exhibition, Stunned Speechless, at Today Art Museum in Beijing. The exhibition will feature both a body of new works previously unseen by Zhang Lin Hai, as well as a collection of his older works brought back from private collections worldwide. These artworks span from 2002 to 2008 - demonstrating the artist’s mastery in development of both his style and technique. Having collaborated with Schoeni Art Gallery since 2000, Zhang Lin Hai has met with growing international acclaim, with his works appearing in auction increasingly.

Born in Shanghai in 1963, Zhang Lin Hai was adopted from a Shanghai orphanage by his foster parents and at a tender age he witnessed the devastation of the Cultural Revolution. He suffered from various illnesses, including polio, and at the age of four he survived his sickness, only to be left with a crippled leg and hand. By the age of 17, Zhang ventured out from his small village into the city, where he began to develop his interest in painting which has led him to obtain degree in engraving from the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts in 1990. He has suffered many hardships before he fully established his artistic career. Zhang Lin Hai has exhibited globally, including the Chinart travelling museum show throughout major cities in Europe between 2002 and 2004.

Zhang’s oeuvres are easily recognised by his signature depiction of bald young boys wandering through, or flying over, an arid wasteland or countryside village. The scenes explicitly articulate feelings such as sadness, fear, a need for escape, stark shock or even bemusement. Zhang Lin Hai’s repeated arrangement of his motif displays a touch of sadness on top of nostalgia. In fact, these works are shaped by the artist’s past struggles and sufferings in life; the pain experienced after lifting up the veil of humanity and the desire of dreams within each growing person. The startling imageries within his canvases appear as if the episodes of Zhang’s past are constantly haunting the present.

"Zhang Lin Hai’s earliest sketches about stone walls and shaved heads were created in 1988, around the same time or perhaps even before Fang Li Jun completed his sketches. The difference between their works is that Fang Li Jun’s bald men are puckish, which helped him establish a reputation in the art world. Zhang Lin Hai is a timid, modest man, incapable of being puckish, so his work retains a quiet, and subtle style. On the in side, Zhang Lin Hai is very sensitive. His bad health has forced him to spend half his life in bed. He is fond of art, but his rocky road of artistic pursuit gave him a sombre spirit. The major theme of his work has always been the mountain village and the curious world outside of it. As in his “Dust” series created in 1999, whether the characters are indulging in thoughts, gazing in the distance, leaping in the air... the stony village plays its part in the background. All of his recollections of childhood are from the village; yet, does he belong in the village? His artistic aspirations, the vibrant Shanghai, his birthplace, his roots and his future all remain in question. His art is the result of the melancholic thoughts he had while being sick in bed. It conveys a deep sadness and dejection, and in between, a sliver of hope.”

– Li Xian Ting, Art Critic (2002)

Stunned Speechless is a continuation to the previous three-man exhibition, hosted for Zhang Lin Hai along with Wang Yi Dong and Cai Guo Qiang at MKM Museum Küppersmühle in Germany in 2005. The highlight of the exhibition will include Zhang Lin Hai’s first ever sculptural installations and a captivating monumental piece with a 12 meter length. In conjunction with the show a comprehensive and retrospective book on Zhang Lin Hai will be published by Today Art Museum’s publishing house. Their extensive collection of publications includes books on leading figures of the Chinese contemporary art movement, such as Yue Min Jun, Fang Li Jun and Yang Shao Bin.

Zhang Lin Hai would like to thank our valuable sponsors for this event, whose generous support has facilitated the organization of Stunned Speechless Exhibition tremendously. These include Lane Crawford, Schoeni Art Gallery, Asian Art News, World Sculpture News, Asia Art Pacific, Tatler Shanghai and Tatler Beijing.

Official Corporate Co-Presenting Sponsor:

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[Editor] Zhang Shuo