Louise Zhang is a Chinese-Australian artist, whose multidisciplinary practice spans painting, sculpture and installation. Her work negates the space between the attractive and repulsive. With an interest in horror cinema, particularly body horror, Zhang investigates the idea of the visceral as medium, method and symbol in negotiating horror as art form.
In her latest body of work Art eats its young, Zhang continues to explore the monstrous and the grotesque, drawing on elements of traditional iconography and symbolism associated with ‘Diyu’ – the Chinese version of Hell.
Referencing this Taoist mythology, Zhang’s new paintings, sculptures and scroll-like banners incorporate demons, dismembered body parts and organs drawn from anatomy books, and cartoon-like ‘gore’ – overlaid with delicate illustrations of peonies, koi fish, scholar rocks and lunar imagery – all painted in the artists signature sugary palette. The resulting visual cacophony (a confused and disjointed mash-up of symbols and imagery) represents an attempt on Zhang’s part to reconcile and make sense of the fissures and contradictions that define her own identity. As a ‘third culture kid’ with a strict Christian upbringing, Zhang was discouraged from engaging with or learning about the superstitions that form such an inherent part of Chinese mythology and culture. Likewise, her teenage love of western horror films and gothic subculture, and her art making practice in general, were derided by her family as being sources of anxiety and depression. By researching and integrating these seemingly disparate sources of artistic inspiration into her latest series of works, Zhang documents her attempts at both constructing and deconstructing her own personal and cultural identity.
Louise Zhang completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours (First Class) at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales in 2013, before completing a Masters of Fine Arts by research at UNSW Art & Design in 2016. Since 2012, she has been invited to exhibit as part of curated exhibitions including: Closing the Distance, curated by Sophia Cai, Bundoora Homestead Art Centre; From Old Ground, Bathurst Regional Art Gallery; Ereignis, curated by Lizzy Marshall, Cessnock Regional Gallery, Cessnock; Work, rest, PLAY!, Hawkesbury Regional Gallery; Right Here, Right Now, Penrith Regional Art Gallery; Biggie Smalls, Casula Powerhouse and Chinese Whispers, Goulburn Regional Art Gallery. Louise has also collaborated on projects with institutions such as the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (who invited her to curate MCA Art Bar in January 2017) and 4a Centre for Contemporary Asian Art (who commissioned Louise to create a work as part of their 2017 Chinese New Year program).
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.
Image credit: Louise Zhang, The Pure Land (detail), 2018
oil and acrylic on canvas
102 x 76cm