Navigating the space between attractive and repulsive, Chinese-Australian artist Louise Zhang kicks off the ARTBAR year in suitable style with a night entitled ‘New Year’s Rot’. Ahead of the night we talk pork buns, glitter oil paint and Harold from Neighbours.
Let’s all take a moment to get to know the artist who will take you on a voyage through a melting candy store with a hint of horror.
Thank you, Happy New Year! I don’t actually. I don’t think I’ve had time to even think about that. Perhaps, get healthy and keep searching for things that are interesting.
IFP was an incredible opportunity that not only allowed me to visit Beijing for the first time but immerse myself in a part of my culture that I’ve felt I didn’t fully understand or rather, wasn’t able to fully understand due to how I was brought up. For that, I am incredibly grateful to Australia Council and IFP for giving me this opportunity and guiding me through the residency. It was not only a time of professional development but also personal growth that was invaluable. IFP is now undergoing some very exciting changes under the new co-directors (and now good friends!) artist Hu Wei (who is also exhibiting at ARTBAR!), designer and curator Daisy Dai & editor of LEAP Magazine, Song Yi. I’ll be back in April to prepare for an exhibition at there ARI, Black Sesame. There is a lack of experimental art spaces supporting emerging artists in Beijing. IFP & Black Sesame not only fill that gap but persistently seek methods in providing alternate creative platforms to work with emerging artists in a sympathetic and collaborative manner.
My practice deals with the attractive and repulsive through things that are tactile. I often focus on things that have the potential to elicit visceral sensations such as Body Horror or over the top cuteness or fluffy nauseating prettiness (gross!). However, what really attracts and repulses me personally is the nature of repression. I think repression holds a lot of things that tease and tempts one to address/explore and that’s exciting and extremely attractive. However, it is also I think one of the most uncomfortable (repulsive) things to be experiencing/have experienced because it is the construction of people. Repression is shaped by people. It’s disgusting. People are assholes. We suck.
That, and all things kawaii. Cuteness is scary because it tickles the bit in us that goes “awwwww” and “I just want to squish it!” but it also exercises our need to dominate, to grasp onto the “innocence” and not to mention the dark side cuteness that is perversion…
The date for this ARTBAR is perfect for Chinese New Year as it is on CNY eve. CNY is a strange time for me as it is as familiar as it is foreign. Being second generation Chinese in Sydney where Market City and Chinatown where frequented during my childhood and teenage years with my parents, celebrating CNY is a part of my upbringing however, all these things that I have been exposed to growing up, I don’t actually completely understand. For example, things like, why we eat certain foods, the décor, auspicious symbols, stories… There’s so many things I never knew/still don’t know/want to keep learning about! It is only recently that I’ve started to accept certain things about my culture, of myself, that fueled the desire to want to learn more about it. So, I’m really excited to have CNY be a theme for this ARTBAR (hey thanks for the opportunity!). This CNY representation will be a very personal one. A fusion of horror, food and slime…
Chinese New Year = food = Citisuper Asian Supermarket just by Town Hall station = HI-Chews are amazing, those Korean rock melon ice blocks, spring onion pancakes, all the hot pot ingredients and a good variety of BBQ pork buns to choose from…
I love all things synthetic and toxic and terrible. And there are many materials under those categories I love to work with. However, my background is painting and I still find incredibly exciting in painting, particularly spray paints and oil paints. I love mixing my own paints up with sourced pigments (glitter oil paint ftw!).
Messy, saccharine, sticky.
Oh boy. One single favourite horror film? That’s too hard.
Body Melt (1993) is up there for sure. Yeah, for now I’d say Body Melt. (Harold from Neighbours gets hectic in it!)
Geez Louise. That’s a tough one. Writers are artists too right? I’d want to work with Fernando Pessoa. Actually. I don’t really want to work with him. I just want to be with him and watch and learn from him like, all the time.
James Jean. He is a legend illustrator but a great painter too. He inspired me a lot when I was younger. I’m a dork and often ask, “What would James Jean do?” to myself. Yeah, I’m a bit of a lame ass butt. But he is great!
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Joining the MCA team in 2014, Bella helps communicate the Museums brand, exhibitions, programs and events. She likes to draw and is a Nick Cave enthusiast, book lover, avid ocean swimmer and gig-goer. Last meal on earth: parmesan cheese accompanied by a selection of pasta.