Louise Zhang

Born in Sydney, Australia.
Lives and works in Sydney, Australia.

Louise Zhang is a Chinese-Australian artist, whose multidisciplinary practice spans painting, sculpture and installation. Her work negates the space between the attractive and repulsive. With an interest in horror cinema, particularly body horror, Zhang investigates the idea of the visceral as medium, method and symbol in negotiating horror as art form.

“Louise Zhang creates objects that are designed to allure and repel. Depending on your proclivities, her paintings and sculptures could have either or both effects simultaneously. Zhang’s paintings and painted sculptures are blob-like in form, slippery in texture and lurid in colour. Their brightness and playfulness are striking and their ambivalent forms can be unnerving, in the same way that the wobble of jelly evokes terror in some.  In one sense Zhang’s works are entirely abstract – they do not represent forms from the real world. They are, however, representational in that their infinite mutability reflects that of the blob. If ‘the blob’ can be defined as a real object, then Zhang’s works are not so abstract after all.

 

Zhang is working in a long tradition of representing the grotesque in art. From Hieronymus Bosch’s early 16th century masterpiece The Garden of Earthly Delights, to Hogarth’s satirical etchings, right through to Patricia Piccinini’s hybrid silicone creatures, imagery of the not-quite-recognisable has always inspired conflicting responses of fascination and horror. When forms are somewhat bodily but not quite as we expect them to be, there is a response of fear and abjection. In Zhang’s work, an additional layer of confusion is introduced by her use of colour. Her saturated neon pigments are eye-catching, seductive, even cute and friendly… Her colour palette and playful sense of the grotesque take their cues both from art history and contemporary culture. The legacy of cartoons such as Ren and Stimpy, that bastion of gratuitous snot and slime and decaying flesh (which first aired the year Zhang was born), and the more sanitary but equally globular subaquatic world of SpongeBob SquarePants, can be seen in the icky textures and monstrous bulges of Zhang’s expanding polyurethane, silicone and enamel sculptures. We are initially attracted, which makes it all the more disturbing when we do come to contemplate the underlying forms and substances…”

Rebecca Gallo, Independent Arts Writer, 2015.

Louise Zhang completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours (First Class) at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales in 2013, before recently completing a Masters of Fine Arts by research at UNSW Art + Design in 2016.

Since 2012, Louise Zhang has been invited to exhibit as part of curated exhibitions including: Closing the Distance, curated by Sophia Cai, Bundoora Homestead Art Centre; From Old Ground, Bathurst Regional Art Gallery; Ereignis, curated by Lizzy Marshall, Cessnock Regional Gallery, Cessnock; Work, rest, PLAY!, Hawkesbury Regional Gallery;  Right Here, Right Now, Penrith Regional Art Gallery; Biggie Smalls, Casula Powerhouse and Chinese Whispers, Goulburn Regional Art Gallery. Louise has also collaborated on projects with institutions such as the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (who invited her to curate MCA Art Bar in January 2017) and 4a Centre for Contemporary Asian Art (who commissioned Louise to create a work as part of their 2017 Chinese New Year program).

She has completed residencies  at The Green House in Fowlers Gap (Broken Hill), and with Throwdown Press in Paddington (Sydney). More recently she was awarded residencies via: the Australia Council for the Arts at the Institute of Provocation in Beijing, China, and the Two to Three Residency Program in association with Organhaus in Chongqing, China.

Louise has been a finalists in numerous prestigious art prizes and was the winner of both the 2015 Fisher’s Ghost Art Award – Sculpture category and the 2015 Yen Staedtler Female Art Award. Her work has been exhibited at Sydney Contemporary, Melbourne Art Fair and Art Central Hong Kong, and can be found in numerous private collections both nationally and internationally.

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