Baahng Gallery is pleased to present I DARE TO MATE A HORSE WITH AN OX, the gallery’s inaugural solo exhibition of the highly celebrated works of Zhang Hongtu, a Chinese-born, New York-based artist and forerunner of the Chinese “Political Pop” art movement. The exhibition will be on view at the gallery from September 27 through November 8, with an opening reception with the artist to be held on Friday, September 27, from 6 to 8 pm.
To dare to mate a horse with an ox is to dare to break down the zygotic barriers that maintain the separation of species. This notion of doing the impossible and breaking down barriers has been the lodestar of Zhang Hongtu’s life and five decade-long career. As a Muslim outsider in China, then as a Chinese exile in America, through his works, he has continually sought to disintegrate dividing walls in culture, politics, and time. His works involve thoughtful juxtapositions of critique with humor, and the appropriation of images of authority figures and cultural icons, for the purpose of deflating the power of such formidably divisive influences. While each work captures and contemplates a multi-layered discourse on competing ideas, the exhibition as a whole unexpectedly proposes universality and relevancy.
I DARE TO MATE A HORSE WITH AN OX highlights selected works from Zhang’s series Shansui, Political Pop, and Van Gogh/Bodhidharma. Van Gogh/Bodhidharma consists of 39 ink paintings created over the course of seven years, 2007-2014. They are the Van Gogh “self-portraits” merged into the style of the classical Zen portraits of Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. His morphing of Van Gogh and Bodhidharma into one is a remarkable display of the artist’s masterful ability to dissolve distinctions between two icons. Also on view are: Bada! Bada!!-11, #2, 2011, a lopsided map of China facing a mob of angry fish; Walking Monkey, 2016, a warning on a disrupted ecosystem; Landscape, Out of the Focus, 2011, a questioning of the assumption of near-sightedness; Long Live Chairman Mao Series, 1987-1995; Zodiac Figures, 2002; Mai Dang Lao, 2002; and Six-Pack of Kekou-Kele, 2002.
Zhang Hongtu was born in Gansu, China, in 1943. He attended the Central Academy of Arts and Crafts in Beijing 1964-1969, moved to New York in 1982, and attended Art Students League 1982-1986. Selected solo exhibitions include at Queens Museum, Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, Kansas, the Connecticut College Charles E. Shain Library, The Bronx Museum of Fine Arts, Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan. Selected group exhibitions at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museu Picasso, Spain, Brooklyn Museum, Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio, Princeton University Art Museum, Israel Museum, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, El Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Cuba, The Hall for Contemporary Art, Hamburg, Germany, Kunst und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn, Germany, and Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan.