Through painting rodents, insects, and other emblems of decay, Zhang transfers this contemplative wonder into the realm of the grotesque, situating the viewer amongst the lowly and parasitic and creating sensuously emotive metaphors for the human condition. In Ants Moving Things No. 3, the collective will and movement of a colony is imparted as equally heroic and oppressive within an industrial setting suggestive of social realist propaganda; while in Travel, the plight of a drowning rat manifests individual conscience with poignant tranquillity, sorrow, and grace.

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