Zhang Yanzi solo exhibition "Where the Heart Is" opens at Ora-Ora

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Zhang Yanzi solo exhibition "Where the Heart Is" opens at Ora-Ora
Edge of the World at Close Quarters No.7, Ink and colour on paper, 8.5 x 46.5 cm, 2020-2021.

HONG KONG.- Ora-Ora opened a new solo show by leading Chinese artist, Zhang Yanzi, entitled Where the Heart Is. The exhibition opened on August 5 at Ora-Ora’s new premises in renowned Hong Kong arts and heritage hub, Tai Kwun, in advance to the grand opening in September 2021.

Hong Kong gallery Ora-Ora presents a brand-new show by Chinese artist Zhang Yanzi, entitled Where the Heart Is. The artist was visiting her daughter in New York City when the pandemic struck, forcing her into several months of lockdown in the city. Having observed at first hand strife and dissonance, rising tensions, and chilling outbreaks of disunity and disharmony, the artist drew inspiration from modern civilization’s unprecedented stress test. Refusing to be disheartened, Zhang Yanzi uses these episodes as a catalyst for a wider incursion into the values we share and the hopes we hold dear. Where the Heart Is muses on the unseen ties that hold communities and families together in adversity and in prosperity. Rejecting prevailing premonitions of increased societal estrangement and alienation, she nurtures connections and shared aspirations, seeking salvation and common ground. In so doing, Zhang Yanzi investigates the role that art must play in forming lasting bonds, making honest assessments of its potency in situations of imminent threat and ongoing emergency. Concurrently, she explores the real and imagined refuges that engender a sense of safety and of home, probing the resilience and nature of those invisible lines that loop us in unison.

Amongst the artworks on display is the Edge of the World at Close Quarters (2020). This multi-layered series portrays the world in reddened, crimson hues, demarcated by rulers such as might be used in a classroom. Acknowledging the power of the global news cycle, which alters our perspective on the nuances, contours and size of our planet, the artist set about navigating topographical interconnections from altitude. With a nod to Li Keran’s Thousands of Hills in a Crimsoned View and appropriating the language of mobile devices, she zooms in on home, and zooms out to discover seemingly uncharted patches of colour. The shift in perspective startles and calls unseen, interlinking territories into being.

As the world emerges from a devastating pandemic, the artist’s sensitive unveiling of the nexus of human frailty and contemporary life has never been more relevant. Her practice has long dealt with issues of wellness, and the collision of philosophical ideals with mental and physical vulnerability. Previous exhibitions such as Essence at the Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences in 2016, and A Quest for Healing at the Surgeons’ Hall Museums in Edinburgh in 2018 explored individual physical fragility, whilst 2019’s prophetic Seclusion exhibition at Ora-Ora in Hong Kong developed the theme to explore isolation and alienation.

The artist’s continued path towards greater understanding of the human condition is a spiritual quest and journey of growth. Her trajectory mirrors the flourishing and expansion of the gallery as it moves into its new space, making Zhang Yanzi the ideal choice for the first solo show in Ora-Ora’s new Tai Kwun home.

The 2,000 square foot venue on the second floor of Tai Kwun is currently being extensively renovated in preparation for the grand opening which will follow in September. “Our new space will be open, flexible and sustainable, values that we as a gallery are proud to embody,” remarked Henrietta Tsui-Leung. Ora-Ora represents artists from Asia, Europe and the US across a variety of media. Dr Tsui-Leung continues: “We are planning an innovative, exciting schedule of programming to showcase the worlds our artists inhabit. The size of our new gallery and its central location open a new range of possibilities.”

Zhang Yanzi was born in 1967 in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province. She lives and works in Beijing, where she is a professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA).

Zhang Yanzi explores the frailty and resilience of the human body. An artist of range, multiplicity and invention, she has frequently investigated themes of wellness, medicine and psychological vulnerability. In so doing, she harnesses diverse materials in her quest to contemplate the essence of a human spirit encased in a fragile, mortal form.

Zhang Yanzi’s art may be seen at the National Art Museum of China, the Jiangsu Provincial Art Museum, the CAFA Art Museum, M+ and the Audemars Piguet Museum, among others. Recent museum shows include 2016’s “Essence” at Hong Kong’s Museum of Medical Sciences. In 2018, she held two six-month solo shows in the UK, one at the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath, and the other at the Surgeon’s Hall Museums in Edinburgh, Scotland. She has shown regularly with Ora-Ora at Art Basel Hong Kong as well as being the subject of several solo shows at the gallery.

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