Hang Zhang: Through the Party Ring – Press Release

Exhibition runs: 30 November 2022–5 February 2023

Artist Hang Zhang invites us to be transported to her posthuman world of immersive installation, which celebrates her first-ever solo exhibition, on display at The Art House.

Through the Party Ring is a new immersive installation that explores timely issues around class, identity, patriarchy and the female body. Leeds-based emerging artist Hang Zhang challenges the boundaries of art to address these topics through humour and fiction, in her first major solo exhibition in a public gallery.

Hang Zhang, Hangover Square, (2022), detail and in situ. Image: Jules Lister.

In the pursuit of equality for all beings, Zhang draws upon complex research as well as her personal experiences of isolation as the starting points for her work. Her determination to defy and question the female body, language and identity in different cultures, has led the artist to seek freedom in such a way that she has now devised her own world existing entirely within her artwork.

Having grown up in China, the artist has been exposed to strict rules around socioeconomic class systems and the female body over the years, as well as her lived experience as a non-white female attempting to confront subtle racism in the UK. It is because of this that Zhang creates projects that aim to challenge positions of power, the upper class and social norms.

Visitors at The Art House will be invited to step into a fictional world; entering the gallery space Through the Party Ring and into Hangover Square (2022), an installation central to this exhibition and consisting of nine neon sculptures. In China, both tattoos and neon lights are often associated with lower classes and “trouble-makers”, with a particular recognition of neon being reserved for use in “cheap shops”. This incredibly brave artwork recreates the artists’ own tattoos in neon sculpture, to combat these stereotypes and explore ideas of colonised women’s bodies.

Hang Zhang, No Artificial Colours, (2022) Image: Emily Ryalls.

While she addresses a number of serious and sensitive topics, Zhang is concerned with creating work that is enjoyable, accessible and inclusive to everyone. Sam, the Red Flour Beetle (2021-) is an ongoing project that will feature in this exhibition as a large inflatable sculpture and accompanying film, however the life of the insect delves much deeper. Beginning as an escapee ex-laboratory beetle, Sam became Zhang’s companion species as she acted as its carer and biographer for a period of time. After Sam died in Summer 2022 before its story was complete, Zhang memorialised the beetle in this physical form.

The Art House is committed to representing artists at all stages of their practice, and are honoured to host not only the artists’ first-ever breakthrough in a solo show, but the artists’ first exhibition since graduating in MA Fine Art at the University of Leeds in September 2022. Exhibiting in a public gallery in this way will allow the artist the space to increase the ambition of her practice, as well as show new work that has not yet been seen before.

Speaking of this opportunity, Zhang said, “I’m excited to be moving out of exhibiting in University to exhibiting in a public gallery. I have worked with The Art House to push the boundaries of my work and now have the opportunity to reach a much wider audience; something that is invaluable to the progress of my practice and will allow me to better consider how my work can be more inclusive and enjoyable for everyone.”

Zhang takes a refreshing and incredibly unique approach to addressing such prevalent and sensitive topics of class, culture and identity. The artist intrigues her audience with bright lights, interactive games, and unusual creatures, and has devised an immersive experience that is as thought-provoking as it is visually exciting. Join The Art House and Zhang in exploring a world that attempts to free itself from the boundaries of class systems and politics, while still addressing a plethora of topics which shape today’s society in the UK.

The launch of Hang Zhang: Through the Party Ring will coincide with Artwalk, Wakefield’s iconic bi-monthly evening of culture.

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Hang Zhang: Through the Party Ring
30 November 2022-5 February 2023

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