“Overbrim the East” Exhibition Hits Knysna As O Zhang’s Installation Is Featured In Vancouver
Two new Chinese art exhibitions are set to open in two very different parts of the globe, reflecting the growing internationalization of contemporary Chinese art. Knysna, South Africa is preparing for a unique traveling exhibition of Chinese contemporary art cooperatively organized by the South African National Association of Visual Arts, The South African National Lottery and the Chinese Embassy in South Africa. This exhibition features works by Chinese contemporary artists Zhang Zhengmin, Cai Guangbin, Lu Yunhua and Liu Guufu and will continue in Knysna through July 11.
On the other side of the globe, another interesting exhibition of contemporary Chinese art has just opened at the Vancouver Art Museum. This site-specific installation by Chinese artist O Zhang will remain open from July 20 to November 29, 2009, and signals the beginning of the museum’s new initiative of 6-month exhibitions, which will be held on a rotating base in the new “Offsite” art space. As Canadian Architect writes, this exhibition by young Chinese artist O Zhang is a great way to christen Offsite:
“Offsite allows the Vancouver Art Gallery to expand its dynamic contemporary art program beyond the walls of the building to engage an even broader audience in new and exciting ways,” said Kathleen Bartels, director of the Vancouver Art Gallery. “In this new dynamic space, we will present a wide range of inspiring and provocative work, from photography and sculpture to video and installation, allowing thousands of passersby to encounter the creations of internationally acclaimed artists on a daily basis.”
The first artwork to be presented at Offsite will be O Zhang’s major photographic installation Horizon (Sky). For this project, the artist returned to the rural area of her youth in central China to photograph the young village girls who live there. Posing in front of a camera for the first time, the children stare into the lens, returning the gaze of the viewer – unabashed, bold and powerful – while the vibrant colour of the blue sky behind them evokes thoughts of hope and possibility. Enlarged to monumental proportions, the images of the young girls, each photographed on a country hillside, are presented with a strength and individuality not commonly represented in popular media. Zhang’s images suggest a positive vision of the future of China and the role that women might play in its transformation, a role that is simultaneously embraced by the artist herself.
Born in Guangzhou, China, O Zhang spent her early childhood in the small village of Jishou in Hunan, where her parents had been relocated during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. After more than six years in Jishou, Zhang returned to Guangzhou to study art at the Guangzhou Children’s Palace and Academy of Art Middle School. At 19, Zhang moved to Beijing to attend the Central Academy of Fine Arts. Although she trained as a painter, Beijing was where she first discovered photography, a medium not taught at the Academy. After the completion of her degree in 2000, Zhang moved to London where she earned two Master’s degrees in fine arts and photography from the Royal College of Art.