Curator: Tang Yifei
Artist: Zhang Mingxuan
Hive Center for Contemporary Art is pleased to announce the first solo exhibition of young artist Zhang Mingxuan, Hive Becoming XLIV – Zhang Mingxuan: Hysteria. Curated by Tang Yifei, this show is on view from August 4 to September 12, 2023, at Hive Becoming Shanghai. The exhibition will present the artist’s most recent works, including a series incorporating etchings on paper, silk, canvas and mixed media installations.
Focusing on the body as the origin, Zhang Mingxuan’s practice deconstructs and reconstructs fields about the body – namely, the internal space of spirituality, the biological existence of the body and the symbols of the body after being externalised. She draws her inspiration from sensitivity and empathy for the multiple spatial folds and the fragility of textiles for an interdisciplinary practice that relies on the logic of etching and drawing. This intimate process consists of photography of the wrapped and twisted postures of the body of the self, outlining in paintings the confrontation and interplay between bodies, tearing and rubbing materials such as stockings, nylon and silk…
The exhibition Hysteria reflects the nature of Mingxuan’s work, tracing the primitive matrix complex and the fragmentation and fluidity of the female body, establishing a situation of conflict and reconciliation in the context of an erratic and continuous movement. Serving as the earliest dwellings of the ancient people, caves assumed the role of a hidden and sheltering habitat, like the mystical womb of Mother Earth, an inward curling space that nevertheless symbolises infinite depth and growth. Mingxuan attempts to return to the primal power of the body, no longer as an instrument or a medium, to identify the body as itself – wrapped, oppressed, contorted, dismembered and intertwined – in a variety of relationships and activities. Through the indulgence of the senses, the body becomes an excessive, frenzied and turbulent ‘appearance’, and the concepts and definitions of the constructed discourse are fleeing and escaping, com fronting the singular phallocentric perspective on subject-object projection. In the show, the physiological activities and biological phenomena of ecstasy are restored with the different forms and postures of erotic desire and lust, which itself represents a dynamic interstice that is constantly being generated, and the envisioning, constructing and guarding of this interstice creates a power dynamic and space. The nylon, torn by different subtle forces, clings to the corners of the gallery, like both debris and secretions, connecting and compressing the separated scenes once more. Just as the artist’s practice throughout has always referred to a radical ideal – about re-examining and determining the body of the self, breaking through the leash of socialised rationality, and thus serving as a vessel for a perceptual dialectic. The capacity of this feminine reflection connecting to different styles of the subject emphasises the body as a culture/nature, subjectivity/objectivity, I/them co-presence, re-situating yet again outside of ethical action and political activism. Here, the world and the universe are the combinations of countless bodies.
Zhang Mingxuan, born in 1998 in Liaoning, China, moved to Wuhan, Hubei, in 2003 with her family. She graduated from Central Saint Martins in the UK with a Bachelor’s degree in 2020 and a Master’s from the Royal College of Art in 2023. She currently lives and works between London and Hong Kong. Zhang’s artistic practice centres around the fluidity and desymbolisation of the body, examining the relationship between the body, space and gaze through contortion and absence. Adroitly incorporating real, ready-made textiles into paintings, she captures the transition between the ‘illusion’ and the ‘real’. The application of tangible matter to cover and encase the ‘virtual body’ in her paintings has become her reflection on the situation of the body in reality. In most of her works, the canvas is transformed into a frame or vessel, imposing a forceful compression on the subject in the image, through which she reassesses and iteratively explores the societal definition of the concept of the body and the possible implication and connotation that the image of the body. Zhang Mingxuan is also fascinated by the differences in the understanding of body/space between Eastern and Western contexts. Through her works, she addresses conflict and confrontation, encapsulation and synthesis as unique interpretations and explorations of her experience in a multicultural context.