Zhao Zhao’s multidimensional body of work is an inspection of China’s contemporary profile and the socio-political consequences of individual free will. For his new exhibition, Zhao Zhao takes as his theme the common gourd, so ordinary in western countries but imbued with a long historical and spiritual legacy in China.
In Control, the artist presents 19 new marble sculptures whose varied forms are borrowed from wax gourds.
Additionally on view are works from his renowned Constellation series, which centers on Zhao Zhao’s reflection on the ephemeral passage of time. Here, the artist shows embroidered versions that he worked on with his mother, with whom Zhao Zhao has collaborated with before.
The gourds will be arranged on connected columns in the center of the gallery, that when seen from above, branch out like constellations.
The exhibition showcases Zhao Zhao’s dexterous engagement with multiple formats and structures of art, allowing viewers to engage with the multidisciplinary facets of his practice.
As Chinese culture and society go through drastic transformations in the contemporary era, the usages and metaphorical meanings of the gourd have changed towards a new reality.
Historically, gourds were dried and then used to store water, wine, and medicine, as well as “magic” elixirs. Shaped like the number 8, an auspicious omen, gourds were used as charms for scaring away malefic spirits.
In Daoism, the naturally-formed symmetrical shape of the gourd represents both sky and earth united, the infinite, the universe, or an entry into another world.
Images: Installation view, “Control”, Zhao Zhao, 2019 // all images coutesy of Roberts Projects Los Angeles.
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