Heavily influenced by the work of renowned horror director David Cronenberg, Zhang’s work playfully explores the idea that by aestheticising mankind’s inherent disgust towards the internal body, it ceases to be ugly. With her oozing sculptures and dripping paintings, many of which allude to grotesque internal organs and bodily functions, Zhang examines the idea that something that is traditionally seen as repulsive can in fact be reinterpreted and reframed as having an attractive and curious allure.
The seductive relationship between attraction and repulsion is key in Louise Zhang’s works. Her beautiful but strange paintings and sculpture are manifestations of excess while navigating the fine line between the monstrous and the cute and metamorphosis and mutation. Hi-viz synthetic hyper-colours, the allure of shiny plastic and Pourfoam, with accretions of beads, glass and plastics, fuel the alchemy and artifice of the ‘beyond real’ objects and multi-panelled, works that Louise Zhang creates. Cryptic narrative titles like ‘I went to Mars and the isolation and the red speckled color of winds eroded my sanity and it was beautiful’ further add to the magicking and fantasia of this meringue–like sculptural confection.
Aspects of horror, typically a genre within film and literature but sporadically within the visual arts, are the source for the ‘noir-based’ works in Monstrous Masses. Louise Zhang mines the themes, potentialities and materials of the visual effects and makers of cinema sets and fantasy theme-parks.
Inferno (maquette) is constructed as a folding polyptych, hinged as in an oriental screen. It is suggestive of darkness, ritualistic masses, and altar-pieces. The artist envisages it as a maquette for a monstrous Gothic film or rock opera set. it can be floor or wall mounted and uses the exaggerated silhouettes common in German Expressionism with its dark looming shadows redolent of taboos, mystery, and threat.
Zhang’s Ascent of the Blob is a wry riff on Heironymous Bosch, More than a few moons, a fantastic outer-galactic playful cosmos and CANDY CANDY SWEETIE CHEWING SO CANDY LOVE is a cabinet of curiosities from the likes of Dr Caligari and German Expressionist cinema with its dark and twisted visual style, oblique forms, structures and landscapes that lean and twist.
The formless monster, the amorphous Blob, its association with stickiness, oozing wetness, and slime is integral to horror. It is ambivalent and un-nerving. When combined with a spectrum of deep, dark velvety blacks and synthetic, hyper-saturated candy colours, this recurring motif in Louise Zhang’s works intensifies the paradox of repulsion and attraction in her practice.
Louise Zhang is a Sydney-based artist who in 2016 has recently completed a Master of Fine Arts at UNSW Art & Design (formerly COFA), where she also received First Class Honours in 2013.
Her debut solo exhibition, Plomp, was held at Artereal Gallery in 2014, and Zhang has participated in group shows in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne including at Edwina Corlette Gallery, MOP Projects, Artereal Gallery and Melbourne Art Fair. Louise has also exhibited at Penrith Regional Art Gallery, Casula Powerhouse and Bathurst Regional Art Gallery.
In 2015 Louise was the winner of the Yen Emerging Artist Award and the Fisher’s Ghost Art Prize in the sculpture category. Her work has been featured in numerous publications including Art Collector magazine, The Design Files, The Art Life, Yen Magazine and Vault magazine.