Last September 22nd, Volery Gallery opened Subliminal Matrix, a solo exhibition by Beijing-based Chinese painter Zhang Ji. This exhibition showcases a precisely calibrated selection of 12 paintings, created from 2018 – 2020, which demonstrates Zhang’s wholehearted engagement with the very structures and systems of painting. Subliminal Matrix is a collaboration of Volery Gallery with art collector and advisor Fabien Fryns who has been active in the contemporary art scene since 1986.
The series, simply titled The Skin of Truth, features the artist’s minimalistic yet richly intricate detailed artworks which appear to radiant into immediate material presence whereupon he shapes the aesthetical effect. From earthy tones to magnetic blue and crimson red etc, Zhang used a variety of rich, bright hues as well as pure white, black and grey etc.
His process calls attention to the paintings’ silken surfaces, loaded with oil paint; strengthened with the sheer physicality and expressive power of his medium. Gazing at these ethereal, atmospheric embossed-like paintings provide the viewers the sensation of a commanding optical quality, floating freely, bulged and ebbed, as if unanchored by gravity.
In this exhibition, each composition is an independent work but also integral to the whole. Each work, elucidated the others, commenting on proportion, texture and the handling of the medium. The glossy was juxtaposed with the matte, the flat with the protruded, and the monochromatic and polychromatic panelling. Viewed together, these paintings convey a sense of symbolic matrix that can readily shift in relation to the painterly space and viewer’s angles of perception, yet captured visceral at its most subliminal.
True to the paintings’ original premises, in this series, Zhang has painted with a restless, innovative and complete technical mastery. Each artwork is a fresh visual adventure with a strong sense of continuity not only as themselves, but also in relation to one another. The artist proves that you don’t have to go colossal to convey epic themes. But if one is to engage them on his/her own terms, they slowly reveal themselves as the artist’s response to his life observation and they allow the sense of things being painted and how we imagine the world through the imageries whereupon Zhang shapes a kind of expanded interrelation, articulated through correspondences of colour, shape and material inspiring trajectories of thought and narrative across the painterly properties.
All in all, Zhang’s paintings evoke familiarity and memory in their vastness of collective illumination.
Check out below for more photos of Subliminal Matrix and its opening night.
The exhibition will run until 12th of October, 2021. 1:00 PM – 7:00 PM at Volery Gallery, Dubai International Financial Center, UAE. RSVP required. Book a visit here.