ARTIST:

Zhang Yuan

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Zhang Yuan
9 o'clock, 2007
Oil on canvas
210 x 295 cm

Rendered in the thinnest grey pigments over chalky white backgrounds, Zhang Yuan’s scenes are more apparitions than articulated forms. Transient, diffused, dripping as if still wet, Zhang’s paintings convey a dream-like state, where unrelated images converge as subconscious narrative suggestions, creating their own associations and tangents through the viewer’s instinctive response.

Zhang Yuan
Brilliance, 2007
Oil on canvas
210 x 280 cm

That Zhang works from found photographs adds a layer of mystery to his ephemeral compositions. Presented as a series of ’‘montaged’ vignettes rather than a unified whole, portraits, landscapes, and industrial scenes mingle without fixed place or context, their familiar anonymity appropriated directly from the vague-ities of collective memory. Zhang’s spontaneous illustrative style, however, lends itself more to film: his random images flit in and out of focus, hinting at just enough detail to give an impression before melting away into the next; his fragmented subjects allude to a sense of non-sequential time.

Zhang Yuan
Fog's Colour, 2007
Oil on canvas
210 x 280 cm

For Zhang, it isn’t the images or their potential meaning that is of interest, but rather the opportunities they present for painterly negotiation and embellishment. Zhang uses his medium with the fluency of a master. His brushstrokes embody a calligraphic elegance, encapsulating each sentiment with an economic shorthand: a dab of white transforms a cartoon face to a realistic figure, smoke is instantly created with one sooty squiggle, and an abbreviated line can be anything from a boat, to a horizon, or a leg. The intrigue of Zhang’s work lies in this delicate balance between representation and imagination, that misty area where new ideas are emerge between appetence and cognition.

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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.