Vivien Zhang

Vivien Zhang’s work reflects disjunctions one experiences as a third-culture citizen and as a digital native. Her paintings present a cultural and geographical fluidity that interrogates the palimpsest nature of contemporary culture and the challenges of constructing contemporary identities. Zhang collates motifs and manifest them in various combinations in her paintings. Some examples include the mathematical shape Gömböc, spiral Baroque pillars, and 20th century world map projections. In the space of her paintings, the motifs collide and generate ‘alternative landscapes’ for an imagined new generation of third-culture inhabitants. 

Alternating layers and motifs in Zhang’s work often follow personal algorithms. They simulate digital layers and user interface designs, making apparent the increasingly fragmented ways in which we relate to reach other and consume visual information today. 

Vivien Zhang (b. 1990) received her MA in Painting from the Royal College of Art, London, and BA from the Slade School of Fine Art, London. She was named on the Forbes 30 Under 30 2017 Asia list, and won the Abbey Award 2016–17 at the British School of Rome and the Chadwell Award 2014–15. Zhang’s work was recently exhibited at: Long March Space, Beijing (2018); PLUS-ONE Gallery, Antwerp (2018); House of Egorn, Berlin (2018). 


Platform Foundation Asks

Who is your artistic hero? At the moment Charline von Heyl. Previously, it has also been Allan McCollum, Julie Mehretu, and Martin Kippenberger…

Which work of art you wished you owned? A Christo and Jeanne-Claude. They’re heroes too. But you can’t really own their work.

What is the most indispensable item in your studio? Nitrile gloves.

Describe your studio in three words: Zoning-much-needed.

Do you collect anything? Motifs from very different contexts. And discarded gloves on the street – I’ve been taking pictures of them for 4 years now.  

What kind of music do you listen to while you work? Crime podcasts.