Zhang Huan (b. 1965)

Zhang has always been in pursuit of the wisdom of the sage who at seventy could follow whatever his heart desired without transgressing the law. For Zhang, incense ash is not just simply ash in a physical sense; rather it transcends its material properties to become the aggregate soul of our collective memories and past prayers. In his words, “no one wishes ill toward others when they enter a temple and stand before Buddha; they are there only to pray for beneficial consequences, either for themselves or for those whom they care for. Unlike, say, a hospital, where hope and prayer inevitably occur against the backdrop of a desperate struggle to confront pain and death, inside a temple one enters into a completely different realm, characterised by devotion and a general feeling of beneficence and positive aspirations.”