By Yang Qing
Artist Stella Zhang has experienced three stages in her life, studying and living in China, Japan and the United States. Under the different cultural environments and life experiences, she has constantly gone through ideological changes. Under the converging attacks of eastern and western cultures, Zhang, a female artist, has encountered all sorts of values, either in open or silent realms. She has walked through the life course of accompanying children to grow up, despite the tears and anxieties between seeking an independent self and maintaining the family role. Zhang’s artistic creation has accompanied her in the turn of her life, going through a long exploration. She wandered between the macro and the micro, between the traditional and the present, between the self and the other, trying to find a more accurate self. Such a mobile thinking has gradually converged into a thinking with “0” as the core concept. The initial prototype of “0” is related to the uterus, symbolizing the nucleus of the most important organ of the body. In this minimized and yet also maximized unit of body weight, she is gradually brought into a deep spiritual realm that is both simple and complex. With the accumulation of life experience and maturity of age, the artist eventually produced the “0-Viewpoint” series in 2010. This most important theme creation, which has continued to this day, focuses on the body and the inner psychological changes, with priority to an emotional and psychological reflex related to the body. To some extent, “0-Viewpoint” is a psychological coordinate for Zhang to adjust her relationship with the outside world, and also an outlet of systematic expression of all her subconsciousness.
In recent years, with the increase of exchanges with the motherland, Zhang has also experienced a new “adjustment” in the native land and social environment that she has departed for a long time. As in her stay in Japan and the United States where she was to meet contradictions and conflicts, she has developed another sense of nervousness in her familiar and yet strange China. In the Chinese society, in the name of globalization, freedom, openness and mobility seem within reach, but invisible imprisonment is everywhere. Here, construction and development are faster than most countries in the world, but damage and destruction are also increasing in an unprecedented rate. The virtual network relationship has set up a new community structure, but the explosive flood of information has brought about a lack of personal thinking and confusion. So to speak, the paradox she has encountered in present China is no easier than any previous torture she had met in a foreign country.
In the Pliability: Stella Zhang Solo Exhibition, the artist, incorporating the sense of mobility brought about by the unique U shape of space, has constructed an installation work that is fully integrated with space, with elastic fabrics and threads as the media of expression. The fabric space device has not only extended the consistent formal language and spiritual philosophy of the “0-Viewpoint” series, but also implicated Zhang’s thinking about the present in her recent exhibition in the United States, “Things Fall Apart”. Whether from the pure spiritual level or her touch from the social reality, the exhibition emphasizes without exception the perceptual responses of the body to external and psychological changes. Zhang has been inclined to choose simple materials, give up excess decoration and interference and, through highlighting the unneglected materiality of materials, emphasize the most essential expression of art. Elastic fabrics are media of expression Zhang often applies, as they are closest to the touch of the skin, and directly related to the feeling of the body. Availing to the plasticity of soft fabrics, the artist could create a twisted, flowing, private, temporary physical space in the manners of tearing, connecting, destroying, and winding, and thus display a complex psychological landscape and subtle physical feelings.
Tolerant murmurs may be a fight with toughness, and a soft gesture undoubtedly hides greater resilience and elasticity. The artist seems looking for a new outlet in the midst of repression, confusion, and entanglement. The labyrinth-like space also provides an open passage for each audience. This is “pliability”.
About the exhibition
Dates: 15 September–8 December, 2018
Opening: 15 September, 16:00
Venue: Wanying Art Museum
Courtesy of the artist and Wanying Art Museum, for further information please visit http://en.wyam.com.cn.