Public Art Project

Three Legged Buddha, 2007, Steel and Copper,
339 x 504 x 272 inches(860 x 1280 x 690 cm)

The Royal Academy continues its programme of Sculpture in the Courtyard with "Three Legged Buddha" by Zhang Huan, one of the most notable artists working in China today. During a visit to London last year, Huan visited the Annenberg Courtyard and was inspired by the space to create "Three Legged Buddha". The monumental work references the past desecration of centuries-old artefacts.

-- Royal Academy of Arts

In May 2005, during a visit to Lhasa’s Bakor Street, in Tibet, I was lucky to have discovered a stub of a gold-plated statue’s lower torso. The legs on this Buddha statue spanned 40cms across. The craftsmanship was impeccable, however the surface was completely beaten up with age. The original gold plating was barely visible. Among Tibetan Buddha statue, the upper torsos are typically composed with "three headed and six arms" or "thousand-arms" or after "Joy Buddha". During Cultural Revolution this stub was stolen from a monastery and had since been passed around lay society. For a long time this stub sat in my studio, and every time I looked at it I was moved by the mystery and its existence.

According to the world of Samsara, Buddha is human, human is Buddha. Causality produces effects. I hope that this "Three Legged Buddha" from the East will bring harmony to London and the world.

-- Zhang Huan
   18 September, Shanghai