The body of work that forms Ziping Wang's upcoming solo exhibition, The Other Landscape, continues to explore the artist's fascination with the modern-day abundance of imagery.
In today's world, we have almost unfettered access to imagery through virtual portals, allowing us to revisit numerous moments and events visually. Equally, whether online or in our day-to-day lives, we are further inundated with commercialised imagery. More often than not, these images are highly modified, specifically designed to be attention grabbing. Ziping's vibrantly saturated artworks, comprising layers of fragmented depictions, aim to document and record this profusion of endlessly diverse imagery.
'As a painter, I'm interested in the elusive nature of modified reality. I use my paintings to document these modifications.'
Ziping is most interested in the everyday visuals that most of us would not think to examine closely. In particular, she is persistently drawn to the dynamic colours and designs of food packaging. For the artist, these images encapsulate the motivations of commercialised visuals that are designed to capture our immediate attention. Ziping herself is primarily attracted to intensely saturated colours and patterns, which frequently remind her of her childhood, reminiscent of toys or sweet wrappers. While working on a piece, she often visits grocery stores to test her reactions to certain food packaging, with the wrapper of a familiar childhood snack possibly triggering an important memory. In this way, Ziping's works invite viewers to form their own personal connections, possibly recognising these commonplace symbols from their own memories. As such, these paintings tap into the universal, capitalising on everyday imagery to activate our sensory memories. At the same time, Ziping's works layer these everyday contemporary images with references to Old Master works, specifically East Asian scroll paintings. The inclusion of these images, which are variants of existing artworks in the public domain, highlights the widespread accessibility of imagery.
Though she occasionally starts with a digital sketch, Ziping's process normally takes shape from a selection of images that have spontaneously grabbed her attention.
She prints them to create a handmade collage before turning to the canvas. The end result is always fragmented, mirroring the contemporary condition of a whirring and frantic mind. However, every inch of these fragments is treated in the same way, with the same care and attention through a harmonisation of surface texture and paint consistency. The outlines of each fragment are completely clear and crisp as if produced digitally. After finishing one area, Ziping does not revisit it, almost mimicking the process of a printer to replicate the uniformity of a digitally rendered image. In this vein, the flatness of Ziping's works is immediately striking as it serves to imitate the flatness of a two-dimensional virtual scape. To emphasise this effect, the artist includes areas of grey and white gridding in many of her paintings. Representative of empty digitised space, these grids interrupt and diffuse the brightly coloured imagery that otherwise dominates the picture plane. In this sense, Ziping's works consciously trick the eye, appearing to be simultaneously digitised and handmade. Composed of these fragments, her canvases reveal and conceal numerous picture planes, interspersing Old Master references with pop cultural iconography to convey the contemporary phenomenon of information overload.
Press release courtesy Unit London.