Leslie Sacks Contemporary is excited to announce an exhibition of mixed media paintings by Zhuang Hong Yi. Originally from Sichuan, China, Zhuang has lived in Groningen, the Netherlands for over twenty years. This exhibition will include collaged rice paper, mixed media flowerbeds and paintings, which explore Zhuang’s personal pursuit to meld Eastern and Western aesthetics, materials and artistic practices.
The flower motif dominates Zhuang’s work. He works patiently and religiously year after year on this subject alone. In Chinese culture the flower is a significant image, which carries with it countless meanings, emotions and symbols. Zhuang’s mixed media flowerbeds are crafted from delicate pieces of painted rice paper, which the artist has bent and folded into hundreds of tiny buds. Utilizing a traditional Chinese material, the works also represent traditional Chinese aesthetics: they are meditations on color, nature and form. The emphasis on technique and uniformity, and the focus on the artist’s handling of material are all lessons Zhuang adopted from the Sichuan College of Fine Arts, where he first studied. Intricately crafted with care and forethought, the seductive, tactile quality of the flowers is highlighted in these works.
The canvas paintings bear the influence of Impressionism and other Western artistic practices. Zhuang’s impasto brushstroke is expressive and unconfined. The regularity of form and structure is undone, colors melt together, and paint drips down the canvas, seeping over a collage of delicately unfolded rice paper flowers. The works’ almost sculptural three-dimensionality makes it both painting and object. Messiness, variety and chance are all embraced, evidencing Zhuang’s liberation in terms of both aesthetics and technique. Like the flowerbed works, these paintings draw the viewer in, encouraging contemplation as they immerse us in a tapestry of color and form.
Zhuang’s work is built upon his native country’s well-established artistic traditions and boundaries, which he has married with the Netherlands’ encouragement of freedom of style. Embracing his present without losing his past and he is attempting to define a sense of self that exists between the two. This is the personal struggle that Zhuang enacts visually and through his artistic process, which vacillates between phases of controlled planning, emotional gesture, and careful editing. The result is objects of appealing beauty, mysterious and alluring—at once both foreign and familiar.
Zhuang Hong Yi has exhibited in China and throughout Europe including Germany, the Netherlands, France and Spain. He has been the subject of multiple museum exhibitions at Groninger Museum, Groningen, the Netherlands. His work is held in numerous esteemed public and private collections worldwide. This will mark Zhuang’s second U.S. gallery exhibition, his first on the West Coast.