Body, Self, and Identity: Stella Zhang and Hong Chun Zhang


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NanHai Art presents:

Body, Self, and Identity: Stella Zhang and Hong Chun Zhang  

Exhibition Dates: July 27 – August 30, 2019

Opening Reception: July 27, 4:00-6:00 p.m.

Please RSVP here.

NanHai Art is pleased to present Body, Self, and Identity: Stella Zhang and Hong Chun Zhang, a duo exhibition featuring the art of Stella Zhang and Hong Chun Zhang, artists both graduated from the prestigious Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in their native China and had rigorous training in CAFA’s affiliated high School prior to entering college, both further pursued art studies overseas (Stella Zhang received MFA from Tokyo Art University in Tokyo, Japan; Hong Chun Zhang received MFA from University of California, Davis), and now live and work in their adopted home, the United States. While both artists’ work is about female (and sometimes also male in Stella’s works) bodies, self, and identity, they approach their art with distinctive practices reveal distinctive artistic languages. This exhibition thoughtfully juxtaposes the clear, strong, feminist statements of Stella Zhang’s work, and the intimate and sensual hair drawings of Hong Chun Zhang. The exhibition will be open on July 27th at 4pm. Both artists will be present for the reception.

Stella Zhang’s art is about the body. Muscle, fat, flesh, and skin are represented in various materials including fabric, acrylic paint and metallic thread, and in various formats – including painting, sculpture and installation. The tension between their visual and haptic aspects draws the viewer into the kinesthetic and physiological process of their making. Zhang’s choice and use of materials connect her to numerous women artists of the past several decades for whom the body and its imperatives are central concerns. Consider the painting and sculpture of Louise Bourgeois, Lee Bontecou, and Yayoi Kusama, as well as Sonia Gomes, Shinique Smith and Kaari Upton, all of whom reorient textile-based craft and applied arts into a language of feminist critique. Like them, Zhang pushes materials associated with women’s work and formerly of low status – fabric and thread – into emblems of power and desire. Zhang employs slits, ovoids, or gaping holes in a pictorial field of monochrome or near monochrome color featuring centrally located openings. She also employs other actions, such as wrapping and knot ties, twists fabric and bulges stuffed with cotton batten – displace the primacy of the opening – replacing wholeness with messy landscapes of creases, bunching and folds. The actual physical rending of fabric is an undeniable recognition of a more turbulent and psychological relationship within the self and a manifestation of a restless soul.

Hong Chun Zhang has adopted hair as the subject of her work and has been working with hair imagery since 2002, when she first created a set of two large hanging scrolls of charcoal drawings, Twin Spirit #1, portraying herself and her identical twin, with a view of their hair from behind, long, straight, and black. In her artist statement, Zhang says, “According to Eastern culture, a women’s long hair is associated with life force, sexual energy, growth, and beauty. I have had long hair since high school and it has become a part my identity”. These drawing are presented as scroll paintings in order to accentuate the length and the flow of long hair. The larger than life scale creates an imposing three-dimensional effect. The charcoal medium incorporates fine details, darkness and illumination, while also relates to the aesthetics of traditional Chinese ink painting. Zhang has since created several sets of large hanging scrolls of long hair or long braid, which are now in important public and private collections around the world. Recently, Zhang created a series of water-themed works, combining hair and water, such as the eighteen-feet-long horizontal scroll Currents (2012), ten-feet-long scroll Curl #2 (2015), as well as smaller drawings Small Wave Series (2018 and 2019). Filled with dynamic energy and flow, these works brings together two universal materials, with water as source of life, and hair as energy force of human beings, suggests the union between the artist’s identity and nature.

About the Artists

Stella Zhang

Stella Zhang was born in Beijing, China. She received her BFA at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in 1989. In 1990, Stella moved from Beijing to Tokyo. She studied at Tama Art University before transferring to Tokyo Art University and earned her MFA in 1996. She has been living in the United States since 2003.

Stella’s art is her way of interpreting various emotions and spiritual thoughts in order to show the true aspects of human nature. Her ideas are based on her identity. She chooses raw and ordinary materials to create familiarity, intimacy, and to stir emotions, and simply to create the effects of flatness, delicacy, and tranquility. These choices enable her to engage in personal reflections bordering on meditation. Her work extemporaneously disregards rules and boundaries in an attempt to channel her intimate needs of expression.

Stella’s work has been exhibited in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and the US, and is in the collections of the National Art Museum of China, Beijing, Tan Shin Fine Arts Museum, Tokyo, among other institution and private collections. She has published six monographs and received many awards and recognitions, including Artist-in-Residence at Stanford University. She is now a guest instructor at Stanford University.

Zhang Chun Hong

Zhang Chun Hong is a Chinese born and US based artist. She was born in 1971 ,Shenyang, Liaoning province. At the age of 15, She passed the national exam and was admitted to Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts affricated high school in 1986. From there, she began her professional art training till 1990. Then she spent another four years studying in Chinese Ink Painting (fine style figurative area) at CAFA and received a BFA degree in 1994. Although she learned fine craftsmanship at the Academy, the art content was restricted by the Chinese government. Therefore, in 1996, Chun Hong came to the United States to further her education in visual art and received an MFA degree in Studio Art at the University of California, Davis in 2004. Through her education in Chinese and Western aesthetic modes over the past 20 years, Chun Hong has developed a solid foundation and have been able to explore other possibilities to expend her art practice and perspective. She combines traditional skill with new concepts and draws from her own experiences and observations in China as well as the United States. The result is work produced on a massive scale with incredible fine details. Her signature works are black and white charcoal drawings that are based around the idea of hair and explore her identity as a minority Chinese American woman, a sister and a mother.

Chun Hong’s work has been collected and exhibited in North America, Asia and Europe at prestigious venues including The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, China National Art Museum in Beijing, The Contemporary Museum of Art Norway in Oslo and The Central Museum in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Her work is also in the public collections of the Spencer Museum of Art at University of Kansas and The Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University as well as in the private collections on contemporary Chinese art such as DSL collection in Paris, France,White Rabbit gallery in Sydney, Australia, and The Ink Studio of Contemporary Chinese Ink Art Collection in Beijing. Moreover, Hong has received many awards including The Dedalus Foundation MFA Fellowship, The Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Artist Residency Full Scholarship. She currently lives and works in Lawrence Kansas and is represented by Haw Contemporary Gallery in Kansas City and NanHai Art Gallery in San Francisco.

About NanHai Art

NanHai Art is an art gallery that specializes in Chinese contemporary art. It focuses on introducing the artworks that reflect the unique aesthetics of Chinese art while transcending cultural and artistic boundaries with a contemporary sensibility. Currently located in Millbrae, California, it provides an easy access for the Greater San Francisco and Silicon Valley audience.

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