Zhou Li: Original State of Mind




Featuring large-scale paintings from two new series of works, it marks Zhou Li’s first solo exhibition in the UK.

The title of the exhibition, ‘Original State of Mind’, relates to the unique position that Zhou Li occupies when making art. Throughout her practice, she seeks to question the relationship between herself and her surroundings, explaining: ‘The way people normally view the world is as through a window, from inside out or outside in, but I try to stand in the middle. I see myself from a neutral point of view, and I see the world from a neutral point of view at the same time.’
In her abstract paintings, Zhou attempts to position herself outside of the usual parameters of perception – a process that is normally accepted as either subjective or objective. Attempting to access an unhindered way of observing and understanding, she considers both her own self and the objects around her as equally valuable to her art; each indivisible one from the other. The duality of perception is challenged as well as that of sensibility and rationality, by prioritising the phenomenological understanding of life – and her own experience of it – over existing concepts or formations.

Zhou says that when she paints she imagines her subject and then communicates with it through her painting. This ‘subject’ could be herself, another person, an event or simply an emotion. Equally, it can derive from a kind of meditation that is stimulated by a particular moment in time or by social or political events. All of this subject matter is then consciously re-perceived as an object, reduced to pure experience based on the relationship between selfhood and the object, beyond established customs or rational rules. Zhou has described this position as akin to ‘the middle of the window’, suggesting that experience shapes consciousness, and she examines both. Through this approach, Zhou attempts to access original thought, which could derive from her experience as a changing entity – the ‘heart’ – or, at the same time, the physical world which shapes it. This inclusive approach, relating to Eastern philosophy of the mind, underpins this exhibition.

Line-making lies at the core of Zhou’s paintings, which incorporate illusory, endless loops and defining blocks of colour that delimit transient, open spaces. Her abstract works can be considered in dialogue with contemporary Western art – in particular, the paintings of Mark Rothko or Cy Twombly – but also with Chinese masters of calligraphy. These include painters such as the 7th-century artist Zhan Ziqian, famous for the earliest blue-green landscape painting Strolling about in Spring, and the 4th-century writer Wang Xizhi, author of Preface to the Poems Composed at the Orchid Pavilion.

Suggesting a sense of flow and movement which reflects the artist’s own restless self-examination, in her work Zhou explores the relationship of emotions to perception and the fusion of the logical and illogical within inner consciousness, ideas which lie at the core of ancient Chinese philosophy.

Duration 17 April 2019 - 30 June 2019
Times Tuesday - Saturday 10am - 6pm Sunday 12pm - 6pm
Cost Free
Venue White Cube - Bermondsey Street
Address 144 – 152 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3TQ
Contact / enquiries@whitecube.com / http://whitecube.com/

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