Earth Life No. 19200739 1/4 x 59 in. oil on linen
Contemporary Chinese artist Zhang Huan is best known for his provocative and challenging performance art. The detailed insects in this painting recall the artist's striking performance piece, 12 Square Meters (1994), in which he sat covered in honey and fish oil in an unkept public toilet, attracting flies and other insects. Here, canvas replaces flesh, allowing bugs to explore this human terrain. Earth Life No. 19 (2007) is meant to be a meditation on the ability of mind and spirit to overcome physical discomfort.