8 July – 13 October 2013

Forte Belvedere and Palazzo Vecchio

The exhibition Soul and Matter, a solo exhibition 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 which, starting from Palazzo Vecchio, symbol of the civil power of Florence, arrives at Forte Belvedere, a place full of history and scenic suggestions. 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 itinerary inside Palazzo Vecchio, dedicated to sculpture, allows you to discover the 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 ideally continues, with a more anthological development, at the Forte di Belvedere where for the first time in Italy, some monumental sculptures placed on the external terraces were presented. The building houses large portraits made with incense ash and works in cow skin (Cowskin), images of a bygone China that emerge 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 that Silk Road which 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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