Lian Zhang: Fast Dreams, Slow Days

Los Angeles Upstairs

September 3 – October 15, 2022

Press Release

Lian Zhang: Fast Dreams, Slow Days is the artist’s first exhibition with Nicodim. Zhang’s works hint at multifaceted narratives that strain from multiple directions simultaneously. Each composition is a theater of contradictions that blend past and future, good and evil, myth and reality, tragedy and comedy, interweaving allusions to historical moments and classical forms from Zhang’s Eastern and Western heritage. Investigating the connections between interior and exterior worlds, she constructs scenes from both personal memories and imagined landscapes wherein figures and objects operate fluidly between stasis and motion. Set within rich art historical tradition, Zhang’s works draw from Surrealism, Symbolism, Taoist philosophy, and her personal experience living in London as an immigrant. Challenging preconceptions through painterly narratives, the artist’s work negotiates a space for her own intersecting cultural identities.

 

Within Fast Dreams, Slow Days, gods, fairies, demons, humans, plants, and animals morph into and repel against one another. In Forever and Ever (2022), a half goat/half human figure holds court beside a circular mirror-portal into a traditional Chinese garden. Resembling the Greek god Pan (god of poetry, music, and love) the figure’s sly smile implies a sinister edge, where creation and dreams teeter on destruction and horror. An auspicious symbol in Taoist tradition, the gourd in his hand is a container that holds the elixir of life, a magical substance produced through Chinese alchemy. The gourd and the god are both capable of unlocking everlasting power, but can also be weaponized for destruction. 


Her piece Windy Paradise (2022) questions and confronts the socio-political dynamics of the United Kingdom, her second homeland. The work encapsulates the beauty and strangeness of establishing a new home where she has built her family and career by her own hand. Also inspired by the Yu Xiuhua poem “Wind Blow,” Zhang’s painting acts as a visual homage to the text. The poem discusses the life cycle of a morning glory, whose petals open and close depending on the time of day. Zhang’s mother and daughter figures, skirts swept up by a gust of wind panging English seaside cliffs, mirror Xiuhua’s gentle blue morning glories, their vines climbing upwards, forever  reaching for something on which to hold.

Lian Zhang (b. 1984, Hangzhou, China) lives and works in London. Zhang received a Masters degree in Painting from the China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, in 2010, and a second Masters degree from the Royal College of Art, London, in 2013. Recent and forthcoming solo exhibitions include: Fast Dreams, Slow Days, Nicodim Upstairs, LA (2022); Weathering with You, Lychee One, London (2022); Constellations and Folds, Lychee One, London (2020). Selected group exhibitions include: Dream Baby Dream, Fitzrovia Gallery, London (2022); An Ode to Orlando, Pi Artworks, London (2022); A couple of: The Dual-mechanism of the New Generation of Asian Artists, Hive Art Centre, Beijing (2021); Unfair Weather, Lychee One, London (2021); Fortune Exhibition of Li’s Family House, White Space, Beijing (2021); Fertile Laziness, Platform Projects, London (2021); Human-ish, SYNT, New York (2021); Antisocial Isolation, Saatchi Gallery (curated by Delphian Gallery), London (2020); Bone Memory, Lychee One, London (2019); Rifts in Silence (with Wu ding and Zhao Qian), M Art Center, Shanghai (2018); Flickering Boundaries, MadeIn Gallery, Shanghai (2018); Mingled Spaces (with Caroline Walker and Gareth Cadwallader), Lychee One, London (2017). Zhang’s work features in many international private collections including Marcelle Joseph Collection, the GIRLPOWER Collection, and the Giovanni Springmeier collection in Germany. 

Selected Works

Selected Works Thumbnails
Lian Zhang

Forever and ever, 2022

oil on canvas

200h x 180w cm

78.74h x 70.87 in 

Lian Zhang

Forever and ever, 2022

oil on canvas

200h x 180w cm

78.74h x 70.87 in 

Lian Zhang

Old survivor, 2022

165h x 115w cm

64.96h x 45.28w in

Lian Zhang

Old survivor, 2022

165h x 115w cm

64.96h x 45.28w in

Lian Zhang

Windy paradise, 2022

oil on canvas

190h x 170w cm

74.80h x 66.93w in

Lian Zhang

Windy paradise, 2022

oil on canvas

190h x 170w cm

74.80h x 66.93w in

Lian Zhang

Antidote, 2022

oil on canvas

180h x 130w cm

70.87h x 51.18w in

Lian Zhang

Antidote, 2022

oil on canvas

180h x 130w cm

70.87h x 51.18w in

Lian Zhang

House cat rhapsody, 2020 - 2022

oil on canvas

155h x 115w cm

61.02h x 45.28w in

Lian Zhang

House cat rhapsody, 2020 - 2022

oil on canvas

155h x 115w cm

61.02h x 45.28w in

Lian Zhang

Winter harbor II, 2022

oil on canvas

70h x 50w cm

27.56h x 19.69w in

Lian Zhang

Winter harbor II, 2022

oil on canvas

70h x 50w cm

27.56h x 19.69w in

Lian Zhang

Riding the wave, 2022
oil on canvas
23.62 x 19.69 in.
60 x 50. cm.
 

 

Lian Zhang

Riding the wave, 2022
oil on canvas
23.62 x 19.69 in.
60 x 50. cm.
 

 

Lian Zhang

Ginseng fruit, 2020

oil on canvas

30h x 20w cm

11.81h x 7.87w in

Lian Zhang

Ginseng fruit, 2020

oil on canvas

30h x 20w cm

11.81h x 7.87w in

Lian Zhang

Wukong, 2020

oil on canvas

30h x 20w cm

11.81h x 7.87w in

Lian Zhang

Wukong, 2020

oil on canvas

30h x 20w cm

11.81h x 7.87w in

Lian Zhang

Forever and ever, 2022

oil on canvas

200h x 180w cm

78.74h x 70.87 in 
Lian Zhang

Old survivor, 2022

165h x 115w cm

64.96h x 45.28w in
Lian Zhang

Windy paradise, 2022

oil on canvas

190h x 170w cm

74.80h x 66.93w in
Lian Zhang

Antidote, 2022

oil on canvas

180h x 130w cm

70.87h x 51.18w in
Lian Zhang

House cat rhapsody, 2020 - 2022

oil on canvas

155h x 115w cm

61.02h x 45.28w in
Lian Zhang

Winter harbor II, 2022

oil on canvas

70h x 50w cm

27.56h x 19.69w in
Lian Zhang

Riding the wave, 2022
oil on canvas
23.62 x 19.69 in.
60 x 50. cm.
 

 
Lian Zhang

Ginseng fruit, 2020

oil on canvas

30h x 20w cm

11.81h x 7.87w in
Lian Zhang

Wukong, 2020

oil on canvas

30h x 20w cm

11.81h x 7.87w in