ARTIST:

Zhang Haiying

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Zhang Haiying
Anti-Vice Campaign Series 001, 2005
Oil on canvas
300 x 400cm

Zhang Haiying’s Anti-Vice Campaign series takes as its subject the Chinese government’s recent initiatives in eradicating prostitution and pornography. Executed on monumental scale and in faux social realist style Zhang’s paintings use the devices of propaganda for non-politicised means: his works neither advocate nor criticise illicit activity, but draw from the associated issues of power, exclusion, vulnerability, and perception to create images of emotive discord.

Finding his source material on the internet, Zhang translates photographic images with subtle painterly manipulations to enhance mass media aesthetics and its conflicting messaging. His tones - dramatic reds over cold greys - allude to both authoritative iconography and strip club sleaze, while his stylised figures are made to look strangely hyper-real, like computer generated avatars, or celebrities overexposed in paparazzi swarms; women objectified by their equally desirable and degrading portrayal.

Zhang Haiying
Anti-Vice Campaign Series-005, 2007
Oil on canvas
200 x 300 cm

Zhang Haiying’s Anti-Vice Campaign series takes as its subject the Chinese government’s recent initiatives in eradicating prostitution and pornography. Executed on monumental scale and in faux social realist style Zhang’s paintings use the devices of propaganda for non-politicised means: his works neither advocate nor criticise illicit activity, but draw from the associated issues of power, exclusion, vulnerability, and perception to create images of emotive discord.

Finding his source material on the internet, Zhang translates photographic images with subtle painterly manipulations to enhance mass media aesthetics and its conflicting messaging. His tones – dramatic reds over cold greys - allude to both authoritative iconography and strip club sleaze, while his stylised figures are made to look strangely hyper-real, like computer generated avatars, or celebrities overexposed in paparazzi swarms; women objectified by their equally desirable and degrading portrayal.

Zhang renders these scenes with a master’s craftsmanship. Hair, flesh, fabric, objects are constructed as self-contained elements, their individual treatment creating a sense of isolation and disunity in the collage effect. His super-pop sheen is exaggerated through painterly veracity: camera blurs, print bleeds, and flash bulb glares are faithfully replicated by brushwork which borders on abstraction. In Series 005 the night vision video effect is perfectly replicated by impassioned smears and smudges, simulating photo realism with intuitive spontaneity.

Zhang Haiying
Anti-Vice Campaign Series-002, 2005
Oil on canvas
200 x 300 cm

Behind each of these paintings is a complex story: of destitution, desperation, abuse and entrapment, side effects of economics, migration, and progress; the human costs of commodity culture. By recontextualising the way prostitution is represented and perceived, Zhang’s paintings strive to convey the human condition, with all its indignities and weaknesses, as a duplicitous victimisation of both the oppressed and oppressors.

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Thursday, 26 November 2020: COVID-19 / CORONAVIRUS UPDATE:

Following the UK Government’s latest announcement placing London in Tier 2, Saatchi Gallery will re-open from Wednesday, 9 December 2020. We will re-open with our free entry Ground Floor exhibitions (Philip Colbert: Lobsteropolis and Antisocial Isolation) from December 9. The new dates for our next headline exhibition JR: Chronicles will be announced shortly.

Government guidelines on health and safety measures will remain in effect, including social distancing within a one-way system in our galleries, the provision of hand sanitising stations, and the wearing of face coverings by visitors and staff. All visitors are encouraged to pre-book their tickets prior to entry.

We look forward to welcoming you back soon.