July 8 – October 13, 2013

Forte Belvedere and Palazzo Vecchio

The exhibition Soul and Matter, a solo exhibit by Zhang Huan, one of the most interesting contemporary Chinese artists and a leading figure on the international scene, aims to accompany the visitor through an artistic itinerary that, starting from Palazzo Vecchio, symbol of the civil power of Florence, arrives at Forte Belvedere, a place charged with history and scenic appeal. In this extraordinary context, the works express the most recent creative poetics of Zhang Huan, an artist who has been able to renew the language of contemporary Chinese art and beyond.

The dialogue between cultures, images and symbols of yesterday and today, between different societies and religious practices, is the basis of this project.
The exhibition path inside Palazzo Vecchio, dedicated to sculpture, allows for the discovery of subjects and materials of an artist who inextricably links his work with Buddhism. The comparison between the images of Christ and Buddha and the presence of an effigy of Confucius in the Salone dei Cinquecento, where pictorial representations of a political nature stand out, propose an unusual juxtaposition between religious values, art forms, traditions and practices that come to us from the past. The exhibition continues ideally, with a more anthological development, at the Forte di Belvedere where, for the first time in Italy, some monumental sculptures were presented on the external terraces. The building houses large portraits made with incense ash and works in cowskin, images of a past China that surface in the artist’s memory.
The artist’s ability to create aesthetic and cultural connections between the Florentine Renaissance civilization and the Chinese one brings to mind the Silk Road that had already connected the East with the West in the past. The exhibition also offers a privileged key to understanding contemporary China, a fascinating and complex reality which today not only represents an economic power, but also an extraordinary laboratory of art and culture.

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