Photo Essays

Seeking Harmony at Storm King

by Michael Groth on May 14, 2014

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Virginia Overton, installation for “Outlooks” Series (all photographs by the author for Hyperallergic)

This season in Mountainville, New York, two different artists are on view who aim for harmony with the meandering landscapes of Storm King Art Center.

Zhang Huan: Evoking Tradition focuses on the large-scale sculptures and traditional techniques of the contemporary Chinese artist. The spirituality associated with Zhang’s Buddhist practice plays heavily as a theme throughout the works; however, what will draw viewers in is the visceral physicality of the materials. His drawings and smaller sculptures, many created from the incense ashes of Buddhist temples, show the artist’s hand and react over time with their surroundings. “Peace No. 2,” a large bell with a life-size bronze cast of the artist’s body used as the clapper, promotes interactivity and hints at Zhang’s past work as a performance artist.

Just over the hill from Zhang’s permanently installed monumental copper “Three-Legged Buddha,” on an otherwise untouched and undulating clearing, there is a thin line hovering over the landscape. This is Virginia Overton’s masterful installation commissioned for Storm King’s yearly Outlooks series. The installation consists of 12-foot-long brass tubes arranged end-to-end, elevated approximately 4 feet above the rolling grasses. The regularity of the piece evokes the utilitarianism of agricultural fencing as well as previous landscape installations such as Carl Andre’s “Secant” from 1977, also installed in upstate New York at the Nassau County Center for the Fine Arts.

As the seasons change and the grasses reach their full height, Overton’s installation will subtly transform; the brass tubes will take on a rich patina and their forms will become holistic with the landscape.

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Zhang Huan: Evoking Tradition, Installation detail

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The artist carefully aligns a jar of ashes on display.

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Zhang Huan: Evoking Tradition, Installation detail

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Zhang Huan: Evoking Tradition, Installation detail

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Zhang Huan, “Small Three Legged Buddha” (2007)

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Zhang Huan, “Ash Head No. 26″ (2007)

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The artist discusses his work in front of “Small Three Heads Six Arms” (2011)

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Zhang Huan, “Small Three Heads Six Arms” (2011), detail

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Zhang Huan, “Peace No. 2″ (2001)

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Zhang Huan, “Three Legged Buddha” (2007)

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Zhang Huan, “Three Legged Buddha” (2007), detail

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Zhang Huan, “Milly’s Temple” (2013)

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Zhang Huan, “Milly’s Temple” (2013), detail

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Virginia Overton, Installation for “Outlooks” Series

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Virginia Overton, Installation for “Outlooks” Series, detail

Zhang Huan: Evoking Tradition continues through November 9 while Outlooks: Virginia Overton continues through November 30 at the Storm King Art Center (1 Museum Road, New Windsor, New York).

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