Louise Zhang is a Sydney-based multidisciplinary artist, whose practice spans painting, sculpture and installation. Underlying all of her work is an ongoing fasciation with the medium of paint, and the ways in which it can be manipulated to create works which investigate and challenge the thin divide which separates the ‘monstrous’ from the ‘cute’.
Preoccupied with the notion of ‘the blob’, Zhang has created a world in which “the blob can also be seen as both an entity and a source of creation, a compound that is ready to be intervened with and modeled. This amorphousness is perfectly expressed through the viscosity of paint: its materiality is comparable to the characteristics of the blob… primordial, manipulable, transmutable, fluid and tactile.” This fascination with unknown potential and the promise of impending transformation is consistent throughout Zhang’s practice.
Zhang describes her works as “evocative of confectionery – the gooey, the sticky, and the sensation of sweets melting… these painted and sculptural blobs are transformed into delicious, sickly-sweet cute entities, coated in pigmented resin (some entirely constructed of it), possessing lustre founded in freshly licked hard-boiled candy. The blobs thus have a decadent aesthetic of the sugar-loaded, over indulgent excesses of the Baroque and Rococo. Tempering, tinting and manipulating the use of white as a method of leveling opacity, I generate a palette that is primarily pastel, a palette inherent in the aesthetic of the cute. Pastels soften the toxicity of harsher elements present, such as the venomous, or, monstrous and artificial fluorescent palette, and the rigid plasticity of resin.”
Like her paintings, Zhang’s sculptures represent further experimentation on the part of an artist who constantly seeks to create works which capture the duality and nuances of perception – works which are both attractive and repulsive, playful and philosophical. Constructed from materials such as expanding polyurethane, gap filler and silicone, Zhang’s sculptures are drowned in sugary neon bright layers of enamel, acrylics and resin – so that they appear to be sitting like living beings or organisms – dripping in a pool of their own candy coloured secretions. With their immediate connotations and uncomfortable associations of violence and dismemberment they look like cauterized tumours or disfigured internal organs ripped from the human body. And yet this sense of unease is offset by the undeniably ‘cute’ nature of the works. Despite the element of the grotesque, something about Zhang’s blobs still manages to suggest the cutesy playfulness and saccharine sweetness we associate with contemporary pop-culture icons like Hello Kitty, My Little Pony and Sponge Bob Square-Pants.
Louise Zhang has recently completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours (First Class) at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales. She is currently completing a Masters of Fine Arts by research at COFA. Since 2012, Zhang has exhibited with a number of galleries including Galleryeight (Sydney), I.C.A.A. (Sydney), KUDOS Gallery (Sydney) and Edwina Corlette Gallery (Brisbane). She has also completed a residency at The Green House in Fowlers Gap (Broken Hill), and with Throwdown Press in Paddington (Sydney). Louise’s work can be found in numerous private collections both nationally and internationally.
Lives and works in Sydney, NSW.