Vivien Zhang (b 1990, Beijing) is a London-based artist and grew up in China, Kenya and Thailand. She graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL (London) in 2012 and in 2014 received a postgraduate degree from the Royal College of Art (London).
Zhang’s work looks at the idea of repetition, the intersection of context-specific objects, geographical fluidity, as well as digital planes and our accessibility and authority to images and information today. Specific objects of significance and traces from contemporary culture offer points of interruption in her work, examples include African furniture that occupied her childhood home, the mathematical shape gömböc, and crumpled aluminum foil.
Her work has been exhibited internationally in London, Berlin, Seoul, Busan, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, and are in the Swarovski Collection, the St James Group and Aspen collections. Recent exhibitions include Beyond Borders at Blain|Southern (London), Cavity Drift: Vivien Zhang at Galerie Huit (Hong Kong), and Surf the Anodyne: Vivien Zhang | The Chadwell Award 2014-15 Exhibition (London). Zhang was shortlisted for Saatchi New Sensations 2014, and has been awarded the Abbey Scholarship for a nine-month artist residency at the British School at Rome from October 2016.
Contemporary Art Society Art Consultancy purchased Zhang’s work for Aspen’s London art collection.
My work looks at the idea of repetition and painting as a site for assemblage. The artwork no longer serves as a place for the narration or representation of an image or scene. It is where elements congregate and collide, and such may be context-specific motifs, residue from activities in the studio, or extractions of previously employed motifs.
I was born in China, grew up Kenya and Thailand, and am now based in London. From this, my work is influenced by a sense of geographical fluidity, placelessness, and an interest in the intersections of objects, cultures and forms.
Repetition serves to emphasise specific objects and images of significance in my work – examples include the mathematical shape gömböc, African furniture from my childhood home, and Swiss artist Johannes Itten’s designated shape to the colour green. Yet, repetition also makes redundant the reproduced, allowing me to question the significance of those objects and motifs employed, my authority over using them, as well as the act of self-censorship in artistic practices in general.
The juxtaposition and layering of motifs in my work often follow algorithms found in digital imaging tools – a process by-product of our ways of reading and engagement with visual material today. New hierarchies and distances are thus negotiated on the painting surface, as a reflection of our increasing adaptation into trans-border inhabitants.
– Vivien Zhang, 2016