Van Gogh/Bodhidharma (2007 – 2014) by Zhang Hongtu consists of 39 ink paintings created over the course of seven years. They are the Vincent van Gogh self-portraits remade in the style of the classical Zen portraits of the Buddhist monk, Bodhidharma, the founding patriarch of Zen Buddhism. Zhang’s morphing of van Gogh and Bodhidharma into one is a remarkable display of the artist’s masterful ability to dissolve distinctions between two icons. This notion of breaking down impossible barriers has been the lodestar of Zhang’s life and five-decade-long career. As a Muslim outsider in China, then as a Chinese exile in America, Zhang has continually sought, through his works, to disintegrate dividing walls in culture, politics, and time. His works involve thoughtful juxtapositions of critique with humor, and the appropriation of images of authority figures and cultural icons, for the purpose of deflating the power of such formidably divisive influences. His work captures and contemplates a multi-layered discourse on competing ideas and proposes universality and relevancy in unexpected ways.