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Exhibition Extravaganza: Zhao Zhao’s Control at the Mizuma Gallery

Screenshot 2019-09-09 at 8.37.57 PM

This September, Mizuma Gallery Singapore presents Control, a solo exhibition by Chinese artist Zhao Zhao – his first in Southeast Asia. Featuring new sculpture and embroidery works, the exhibition will showcase two of Zhao Zhao’s iconic series: his Control series and Constellations series. Manifest in the works of Zhao Zhao is a persistent interest in Chinese history, tradition, craft, culture and a keen observation of life. Juxtaposing the speed (and ferocity) of industry and technology with the deliberateness and delicateness of craft, the two series presented in the exhibition, Control (2015–) and Constellations (2008–), are evocative of forms of desistance from the conditions of living in a “modern” capitalised world of conformity.

In the artist’s Control series, we observe an exploration on the theme of control specifically focused the collective consciousness of people. This theme is projected through the common gourd, an organic material that the artist had let grow unnaturally in a casted mould, forcing the gourds to grow into a shape controlled by human will. When we look at this series’ overarching idea, life on both individual and collective levels have become deeply controlled by power. Human beings are also placed under the covert and especially effective manipulation of all kinds of ‘power installations’. Just as young gourds encapsulated into moulds, life, as it grows, gradually reaches a state that the majority pervasively acknowledges.

Zhao Zhao Constellations (2019) embroidery on silk 300 x 969.5 x 3.5 cm (total of 7 panels, each panel 300 x 138.5 x 3.5 cm) © Zhao Zhao, courtesy of Zhao Zhao and Mizuma Gallery

The ongoing series, Constellations, originated from Zhao Zhao’s fascination with the twisting cracks emanated by the impact of his body against the glass windshield after being in a motor accident in 2008. Through studying the patterns and visuals of the breaking glass, the artist explores the repeated, forceful, violent efforts that proved futile against political, social and/or economic resistances.

These subtle expressions of individualism figure strongly throughout Zhao Zhao’s artistic practice: from his obscure acts that playfully challenge the regulated social and ideological sphere in works such as Cobblestone (2007) and On Guard (2008); to absurd representations of social phenomena in, for example, Slap (2013), Crush (2014) and Confusion (2015); to witty commentary on the economy of (ethical and cultural) values such as Again (2012–13), Countless (2014) and Suit (2016); and more recently, poignant journeys into forgotten realities and land in Project Taklamakan (2016), Desert and Camel (both 2017). The series Control, developed since 2015 (first iteration shown in 2018), marks another stage of the artist’s use of materialised forms that uncover the gaps in conditioning control.

Control runs from 20th September to 20th October 2019 at the Mizuma Gallery, Gillman Barracks. Admission is free. For more information, visit their website here

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