This July, Artereal Gallery is proud to present a major exhibition of magical, wonderous and mysterious new paintings and sculptures by Louise Zhang. The exhibition is Zhang’s sixth solo exhibition with the gallery and charts an exciting and decisive shift in direction by an artist at the zenith of her creative experimentation.
Titled Like an infertile python egg, we are trying this latest exhibition unveils paintings and sculptures which continue to explore a range of personal and cultural influences, including Zhang’s religious upbringing, her experiences as a Third-Culture Kid growing up Chinese-Australian, and traditional Chinese symbols and motifs. Having developed a cult following for her alluring and fascinating paintings, sculptures and installations which mash together references as diverse as horror films and Chinese mythology, Zhang’s latest works continue to be articulated in the artist’s signature hyper-coloured and sugary palette.
Ornamenting these new paintings are the addition of intricate handmade lattice frames which directly reference traditional Chinese architecture – in particular architectural devices such as moon gates. Interested in the idea that they are almost like mystical or sci-fi portals to another world, the symbolism of the Moon Gate motif has long been explored by Zhang within her artistic practice.
With these new works, Zhang’s frames utilise zinging, eye-popping colours in a way that both clashes with and harmonises against her paintings. This tension or feeling of both simultaneous attraction and repulsion is key to Zhang’s practice – she is an artist who has become known for work which explores the dichotomy and tensions which exist between the beautiful and strange. Arts writer Luise Guest summed it up best, describing the way Zhang’s artworks: “juxtapose an aesthetic of cuteness and riotous colour with darker imagery alluding to death and decay”.
Dominating this latest body of paintings are a cacophony of varied symbols, from the beauty and fragility of the peonies, pear blossoms and magnolia – through to the slightly unnerving gore of ghostly disembodied hands, bats, demons and disgorged eyeballs held in the palm of a hand. An underlying homage to traditional Chinese artistic and cultural practices (such as shanshui landscape painting and the contemplation of scholar rocks) further informs each artwork, allowing Zhang to embed within her paintings and sculptures a personal lexicon of symbols that carry both cultural meaning and private significance…
– Katharina Prugger
(Curator of Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Victoria).
Zhang has been 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 finalist 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. In 2017 Louise was a finalist in the NSW Visual Arts Emerging Fellowship at Artspace in Sydney.
In November 2020, Louise Zhang had the honour of having three significant artworks acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria. The suite of works which entered the permanent collection included two major new paintings and a sculpture. The acquisition of these works for the National Gallery of Victoria was made possible by MECCA Brands and their ongoing partnership with the National Gallery of Victoria.
Since 2016, MECCA founder and co-CEO, Jo Horgan, and MECCA Brands have supported the NGV to acquire works by contemporary Australian female artists for the NGA Collection.