After an extensive global search conducted with the Art Gallery of Ontario serving as advisor, we unanimously chose Zhang Huan – one of today’s leading contemporary artists.
Captivated by the artist’s unbridled imagination, the committee felt that Huan brought a dynamic and startling creative vision to this project. While his early sculptural proposal depicted a ﬂock of ﬂuttering birds taking ﬂight from a rooted tree trunk, he subsequently developed this motif into a series of winged birds surrounding the Shangri-La tower, appearing to animate and activate the entire façade. Each meticulously fabricated bird becomes an emblem of transcendence reaching skyward. Following a visit to Toronto in 2009 and numerous discussions held in his Shanghai studio, Huan expanded his concept to include linear motifs within the main entrance spaces of Shangri-La which further extend his visual and poetic idea. This work of art will become an intrinsic part of the way people experience the architecture of Shangri-La Toronto.
At the opening of Rising, Zhang Huan read a piece translated from Mandarin to English by Jilane Ma.
He was speaking in the first person as if the work had come alive and was addressing the audience. Zhang Huan, with roots as a performance artist, is considered to be one of the most important artists of his time and his delivery was powerful.
Good afternoon my human friends.
Thank you all for coming to my unveiling ceremony. I’m very happy to share and witness this historical moment with everyone here. My name is Rising given by a Chinese guy. In fact I don’t believe I have done much, not to mention creating anything at all, I’ve only felt my body and functions were imbalanced and crazy, it is then I have realized that I was born a beast! My dream is to leave earth and rise up to the sky, greater than any height upon clouds and air and fly to a new realm, rising to the mythical heaven, dream world of beauty and harmony. I believe this heaven is Shangri-La, sincerity creates good aura, I believe I will be living here for a long time. With years of battle, you have finally made me what I am today, humans have so much creativity and energy to toss around, you people are fantastic. You have used so much of human-resources, material and financial resources on me, as well as moving me from east earth to west earth, building me such a deluxe hotel. I wonder why? Have you thought all of this to be real? If so, Amen.
Finally I would like to say I love you all and my ancestors will thank you for this! Thank you again to those human friends who have given into this creation.