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.
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.