Zhang Zipiao: Swallow Whole
Zhang Zipiao: Swallow Whole (2023), the artist’s debut solo exhibition with LGDR, enveloped viewers in lush and monumental painted fields. Her new canvases in oil oscillated between figuration and abstraction, triggering the impulse to interpret her representations as recognizable objects and symbols. Zhang creates imagery through intricate layers and sweeping brushstrokes. Her rich palette and the physicality of her application formed the foundations of this body of work.
Zhang’s psychologically charged compositions explore the human body and organic matter. For Swallow Whole she departed from earlier allusions to beauty, lust, and euphoria to reveal the darker aspects of opulence, blurring the lines between balance and disorder, aggression and confinement. Navigating between modes of instinctual painting, she presented the viewer with a shifting and destabilized perspective not previously seen in her work—embarking without a plan and approaching the canvas with raw emotion and energy. This new process constituted the artist’s response to her uncertainty amid the internal and external turmoil experienced during the three long and precarious years of COVID when China was closed off from the rest of the world.
The exhibition featured large-scale works like the diptych Mother of Pearl 08 (2023), portraying a deconstructed oyster, as well as smaller-scale canvases that constrain the act of painting to the proportions of the human body, such as Calla Lily 10 (2023). Zhang’s unique pictorial language and dynamic use of color capture a psychological unease influenced by global events, offering an emotional and sensory experience. Through her symbolically figurative works, she pushes the boundaries of abstraction and representation, expanding our perception of the physical and visual realms.
- Surface MagazineJuly 26, 2023
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