Early life[ edit ] Zhang was born the son of a gardener in in Xujiahui Ziccawei , then a suburb of Shanghai, China. The young Zhang lost both his parents at an early age and grew up in the French Jesuit orphanage of Tou-Se-we now Tushanwan where he entered at the age of seven, and where he learned French. He then entered the Art School of the orphanage, where he learned to draw, and was systematically educated in Western art. After finishing school in , Zhang worked with design for the film industry and at a local newspaper. These included evil Russian Bolsheviks , lazy and dumb black Africans , and an America of gangsters , cowboys , and Indians. For example, while Cigars of the Pharaoh takes place in an idealized India of Maharajas and British officials, The Blue Lotus has the look and feel of China of the s torn apart by the occupying Japanese forces and the Western influence in Shanghai, including corrupt businessmen and police.
Zhang Yunyao new series of works now on display in Shanghai | China Art Management
All images for this article are courtesy Zhang Huan Studio, Shanghai. With his career having taken him from Anyang in his native Henan province to Beijing, New York and Shanghai—transforming him from a pessimistic iconoclast in the early s to a Newsweek cover boy in —and his practice ranging from oil painting to performance, photography, sculpture, installation and, most recently, set design, it is difficult to pin down consistent themes in his work. Born in into a family of workers, Zhang developed an early interest in the arts. His graduation piece was a painting entitled Red Cherries , which portrayed a mother peacefully nursing her baby next to a bowl of cherries. After concluding his studies, he remained at Henan University, teaching for four years in the art department. When he moved into Dashanzhuang—the ramshackle collection of some 65 farmhouses bordering a garbage dump that came to be known as the East Village two years later—there was very little in the fabric of his life that might have predicted the violence and masochism of the performance work that was to establish his career.