“In China, people thought I should be in a mental hospital,” says Zhang, smiling. “In New York, they understood what I was doing as art.”
These days, Zhang’s favourite material is incense ash, which he collects from temples and moulds into the paintings and sculptures that will dominate his London show. “Ashes for me are life,” he says. “To me the dead are alive in the ashes.”
His days of rural poverty and Maoist indoctrination may be distant, but memories of those times still provide many of the themes for his work – family, loss, propaganda and alienation. “Back then, nobody wanted things because nobody had much,” he says. “Everybody glued their own shoes together. But inside we were so happy.”
more from The Telegraph here.