Friendship (Two women)


Incense ash, charcoal and resin on canvas

250 x 400 cm (98 7/16 x 157 1/2 in.)

Two female figures appear blurred. The title tells us that they are probably friends. But that’s all; the image, fuzzy, almost unreal, seems like a dream or a memory.

Zhang Huan made this mysterious portrait with a mixture of incense ash, charcoal and resin. The uniqueness of these materials lies in the fact that the ash comes directly from Buddhist temples. Zhang Huan often links his painting technique to a representation of an iconic figure (Mao Zedong, for example), with a realist approach. In Friendship, the artist explores the plastic qualities of painting with incense ash, creating fluid effects and using a technique akin to sfumato, enveloping the two figures in mystery.

The work was first presented by the Pinault Collection at the "Le Monde vous appartient" (“The World Belongs to You”) exhibition (2011-2012) at the Palazzo Grassi.