ZHANG Yunyao participates in his first European institutional exhibition this June in France


From 12 June to 17 October 2021, Musée Fenaille in Rodez, France will present an exceptional exhibition IDOLES. L’art des Cyclades et de l’Anatolie à l’Âge de bronze (IDOLS: The Art of the Cyclades and Anatolia in the Bronze Age), organized in collaboration with Musée du Louvre, to bring together for the first time a unique collection of sculptures from the Cyclades and Anatolia. 


In the center of the exhibition is The Head of a Cycladic Idol, along with 65 works of art from the collection of the Musée du Louvre and more than 30 objects from prestigious European museums, of which a large portion has never been seen by the general public.  This will be the first exhibition that revolves around Cycladic art in France since 1984, emphasizing the mutual cultural and artistic influences between the two cultures and highlighting the inspirations that have ignited the 20th century masters such as Brancusi, Giacometti, Zadkine and more.


Galerie Marguo artist Zhang Yunyao, born in 1985 in China, has been invited to participate in this unique exhibition that examines art spanning 5000 years of human civilizations to represent the painting practice of our contemporary time.  For his first institutional exhibition in Europe, Zhang will create a new series of works Study in Two Heads (Inceptions) that are inspired by both the Cycladic idol head and the 20th-century modern masters that were also influenced by it.


A catalogue will be published on the occasion of this exhibition and includes contributions by Galerie Marguo.


Visit Musée Fenaille website

  • Zhang Yunyao

    Study in Two Heads (Inceptions), 2021

    Graphite, color pencil, pastel on felt

    227 x 175 cm

  • About 'Study in Two Heads (Inceptions)'

    By Ludovic Laugier, Curator of Louvre Museum, Department of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, for exhibition catalogue


    "Winter 2021, February 15th. Zhang Yunyao ambles across the deserted halls of the Musée du Louvre in our company. We go toward the salle des Caryatids to find the Tortured Marsyas, an antique sculpture with a poignant expressivity, an incarnation of pain, that represents one of the most tormented faces of Greek art. For the past few months Yunyao has been working on a diptych of drawings on felt based on this antique model. This project belongs to an ongoing series of large works based on iconic statues from classical antiquity or the Italian Renaissance, such as the Laocoön in the Vatican or Cellini's Perseus with the head of Medusa. This multi-year undertaking has been shown in numerous solo exhibitions of the artist: in Hong Kong in 2017, in Shanghai in 2019, and finally in Paris in 2020. These works give pride of place to the effects of layering and matter. The material texture of the models, whether marble or bronze, are somehow reproduced without the artist succumbing to the temptation of ultimate illusionism. The texture of felt, which replaces the canvas in his work, muffles the quality of the models' surfaces, and creates instead a formal distance, in the depth of which Yunyao's subjectivity resides.


    Go picture the tortured Marsyas as such…But on the way, we stop in front of a completely different work, of a diametrically opposed aesthetic: the head of Kéros (n°68), a stripped back depiction of the human figure, atemporal and essential. We begin discussing the upcoming exhibition 'Idoles' at the Musée de Rodez, of Cycladic and Anatolian statuettes, and the role of artists in the first half of the 20th century concerning the reevaluation of these long disregarded prehistoric antiquities. We evoke the ways in which these refined forms may have consciously or unconsciously inspired Picasso, Moore, Modigliani, Giacometti, Brancusi, or Arp. Yunyao remembers the interest he took in these phenomena while a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Shanghai. Two days later, an entire wall of his studio is already covered in studies: the head of Kéros seeming to dominate his attention. Gravitating around that sculpture are statuettes by Jean Arp, a ready-made by Picasso, heads by Brancusi and Modigliani. By spring, Zhang settles on the idea of superimposing the silhouette of 'Mademoiselle Pogany II', created by Brancusi in 1920, on the head of Kéros. The seeming transparencies compel the viewer to adjust their gaze to make out the interlacing curves of both subjects. The models' original textures and the matte effect of the felt surface contribute to the optical play induced by Yunyao's work. The piece is titled 'Inception'; it articulates in its own way the affinities between the avant-garde art of the 20th century - symbolized here by Brancusi's figure - and the minimalist forms of Cycladic art incarnated by the head of Kéros."


    The original article was written in French and first published on the exhibition catalogue, IDOLES. L'art des Cyclades et de l'Anatolie à l'Âge de bronze, Edition of Musée Fenaille, 2021, p. 204-207

  • Inspirations for New Series

    Tête d'une idole cycladique (Head of a Cycladic idol)

    2500–2000 B.C.


    Collection Musée du Louvre, Paris

    Photo © Musée du Louvre, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Daniel Lebée / Carine Déambrosis 

  • Inspiration wall for Zhang's new series 'Study in Two Heads (Inceptions)'
  • Zhang Yunyao studio visit with curators of Musée du Louvre

    Zhang Yunyao at Musée Fenaille Part I
  • Zhang Yunyao's Journey Through Time

    Zhang Yunyao at Musée Fenaille Part II
  • Zhang Yunyao's Study in Two Heads (Inceptions) at Musée Fenaille on view through 17 October


    Learn more about the artist