In Meiro Koizumi's three-channel video installation, The Angels of Testimony (2019), the central frame features an interview with Hajime Kondo about his time as a solider of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The conversation centres on war crimes perpetrated in China, including the beheading of Chinese prisoners for...
Diana Campbell Betancourt is a curator working predominantly across South and Southeast Asia. Since 2013 she has been the founding artistic director of the Samdani Art Foundation and chief curator of the Dhaka Art Summit in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a transnational art event that has grown in size and scale ever since its first edition in 2012. Backed by...
China, home to 802 million internet users, is subject to sophisticated online censorship. This shrouded state of affairs, unsurprisingly perhaps, serves to reinforce stereotypes around conformity elsewhere. Any realm, digital or otherwise, subject to such strict scrutiny must necessarily be bland and uncritical, right? I was mulling over such...
Louise Zhang is a Sydney based artist who creates sculptures and paintings that are representative of the grotesque. Her objects are layered with beauty and are capable of producing feelings of attraction and repulsion simultaneously. Her upcoming show Monstrous Masses at Artereal Gallery will display the artist’s shiny, slimy and playfully colourful works. Zhang recently completed a Master of Fine Arts and the research involved during her studies informed her practice. Initially working with drawings to then oil paintings she found herself searching for new ways to represent paint.
Louise Zhang predominantly works in painting, sculpture and installation to create objects that simultaneously engage with desire and disgust. She uses a wide range of materials to reach this effect, including acrylic, resin, expanding foam and silicone. In these media she explores the kind of horror that makes the viewer want to look away at the same time as they find themselves eager to look closer.
Zhang walks the line between the cute and the grotesque. She works to bring the feeling of sticky slimy repulsion and the messiness of the body together with her interest in kitsch and glitter. In New Year Rot!, an exhibition at Gaffa Gallery (19-28 August 2016), Zhang investigated Nianhua—Chinese prints that celebrate the new year. Often these prints depict fat babies blissfully holding flowers or hugging fish. Zhang utilised the sweetness of these images and combined it with the bodily iconography of horror. Juicy Juicy Fuzz (2016), for example—executed in polyfoam, polyester, plastic petals, plastic and acrylic—looks like a cross between a peach, a vagina and a brain. By combining vibrantly artificial candy colours and images of innocence with visceral and confronting forms, Zhang plays on the journey from sweet to uncanny and back again.
As well as darting between the lovable and the hideous (and embracing both), Zhang pursues a path between solid form and formlessness. While she began her artistic career in painting, she now places a strong emphasis on sculpture as well as the interaction between the pictorial and the three-dimensional. This interaction is evident in Ghoul (2016), where an organically-shaped painting board hangs off a phallic rainbow hook (visible through a large hole in the painting). The painting itself is thick with paint, dripped so that the surface looks almost stretched by the weight of its materials. In such an image, representation seems to drip to a surreal abstraction, leaving the viewer disgusted and intrigued.
In her art, Zhang pursues her personal interest in horror as a genre of storytelling where the sinister and the absurd frequently collide. In the exhibition New Year Rot!, she explored the Chinese version of Hell, which has 18 levels, each with different types of torture. In the Chinese conception of Hell, every single person must stay there for a time, but how long that time is depends on how good they were while still alive. With this research in hand, Zhang made the painting We're all gonna burn in hell for a little bit (2016). The painting on board is shaped like clouds or smoke from a genie's lamp. Superficially, it seems to be a cheerful painting of bright colours and swirling patterns. However, on closer inspection the images seem to have more sinister intentions. Combined with the title, the viewer finds themselves in conflict between the seeming serenity of the image and the tortures that await them in the afterlife.
Zhang received her BFA with First Class Honours from College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, in 2013, and her MFA by Research from University of New South Wales Art & Design in 2016. She has undertaken residencies with Organhaus in Chongqing, China, and with Institute for Provocation in Beijing in 2017 and 2016 respectively. She lives and works in Sydney, Australia.
Established as a commercial gallery with an emphasis on experimental and innovative practices, Artereal Gallery has built a strong reputation and some serious street-cred for presenting risk-taking and stimulating exhibitions by artists working at the forefront of contemporary practice.
With a strong stable of emerging, mid-career and established multidisciplinary artists, the Artereal Gallery exhibition program represents a vivid cross-section of contemporary Australian and international art.
Housed in a restored 1890s heritage fire station building in Sydney’s Inner West, (just 200m down the road from Sydney College of the Arts), Artereal Gallery has two state-of-the-art gallery spaces. Both the Main Gallery and Second Gallery spaces present exciting new exhibitions on a monthly basis as part of an ever-changing exhibition program of ambitious and rigorously curated shows from a collective of represented and guest artists.
With a focus on nurturing early career artists; presenting the work of artists operating within the Asia-Pacific region; and championing artists whose work challenges preconceived modes of practice; Artereal Gallery is committed to encouraging variety and experimentation in contemporary art practice.
Louise Zhang‘s works don’t represent forms from the real world. But they are not entirely abstract. Forms are somewhat bodily but not quite as we expect them to be, and colors appear to come from a neon-illuminated planet. This Australian artist is working in a long tradition of representing the grotesque in art, in which...
Louise Zhang is a Sydney-based emerging artist whose primary interest lies in the middle ground between what we perceive as ‘cute’ and ‘grotesque’. Having graduated from UNSW Art and Design (formally COFA) with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours in 2013, Louise currently maintains a studio practice as well as undertaking a...
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