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New Millennium, Open Boundaries and Much More…

Chinese artist Zhang Hongmei at her studio. Photo: Zhang Jian. All images are courtesy of the artist and Diffusione Italia International Group Srl.

Chinese artist Zhang Hongmei at her studio. Photo: Zhang Jian. All images are courtesy of the artist and Diffusione Italia International Group Srl.

By Luisa Cárdenas

It has been a long time since we had the opportunity to appreciate the works of an artist who is truly well rounded. But, to find such an inspiration, we had to travel many miles to discover that talent. When meeting Zhang Hongmei and her work, one knows they are in the presence of a talent and personality that represents the 21st century.

Zhang Hongmei, Silk Road, 2017, cloth and acrylic, 188.97” x 82.67.”

Zhang Hongmei, Silk Road, 2017, cloth and acrylic, 188.97” x 82.67.”

Zhang Hongmei is an artist of admirable character who exemplifies both the creative entrepreneur and the artistic professional, and whose talent knows no boundaries.

As seen from a historical perspective, Zhang Hongmei is the result of constant and expanding forces of societal norms. She is committed to her work and legacy towards the contemporary world. Her works represent an ideology, a consciousness, and an unsurpassed moral character. In other words, Zhang Hongmei’s work has a clear voice which symbolizes the realities of her country: competitiveness and freedom. The spirit of a new China that carefully balances socialism with capitalism.

Zhang Hongmei, Golden Shadow, 2017, cloth and acrylic, 133.85” x 82.67.”

Zhang Hongmei, Golden Shadow, 2017, cloth and acrylic, 133.85” x 82.67.”

Since the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), China has been experiencing internal social contradictions which produced a positive motivating force for social change. In the human aspect, the tensions between the past and the present, the dissipation of old and the new, and a popular enthusiasm emerged, especially in the cultural and artistic terrains. China had reached a higher level of productivity before embarking on its societal transformation. The technological revolution had beaten capitalism at its own game. Under the guise of the “Cultural Revolution”, “The China of Mao”, a great majority of intellectuals welcomed a New China which urgently demanded the young cultural force to serve their country by becoming teachers and administrators.

Zhang Hongmei, Mental Landscape, 2017, cloth and acrylic, 16” x 24,” each piece.

Zhang Hongmei, Mental Landscape, 2017, cloth and acrylic, 16” x 24,” each piece.

The second “Cultural Revolution” took place in the Western hemisphere. May 68 presented a new man. That revolution positively affected young people’s ideology, especially in France where the revolution changed the vision of the world for future generations. Indirectly and gradually, its consequences were the opening of boundaries for women’s rights.

Zhang Hongmei, Xi'an Color, 2017, bronze, installation view at Shandong Museum, China.

Zhang Hongmei, Xi'an Color, 2017, bronze, installation view at Shandong Museum, China.

In the 1980’s, China finally opened its borders to the West. Participating in a global economy and culture, the “open door” policy restored the integrity of this Asian nation. Transformation, however, was not without challenges and required the coexistence of socialism and capitalism as well as a mental transformation in regards to economic development and openness of ideologies. During the “economy fever” every Chinese strived to be a businessman or a businesswoman. That transformation introduced new market strategies and reforms that revitalized the economy and its people’s minds. Environmental policies and dynamic participation in the international market were China’s strength in the new millennium and set a platform in which China was able to play a substantial role in the international stage for the past twenty years.

Zhang Hongmei, Red Autumn for a Long Time, 2017, cloth and acrylic, 133.85” x 82.67.”

Zhang Hongmei, Red Autumn for a Long Time, 2017, cloth and acrylic, 133.85” x 82.67.”

This social and intellectual context set the stage for an innovative female artist who rose like a lotus and emerged into life. Zhang Hongmei blossomed into the artistic panorama. The evolution of Chinese society catapulted her into the 21st century that knows no boundaries. Zhang Hongmei’s dialogue between the past and the present energizes her position as a freethinker. Her visual language encourages the tradition of textiles as an art form.

Zhang Hongmei, Ink Dancing, cloth and acrylic, 2017, 133.85” x 82.67.”

Zhang Hongmei, Ink Dancing, cloth and acrylic, 2017, 133.85” x 82.67.”

“Cutting and Pasting,” her creative process, involves a natural process of synthesis. To reevaluate the essence of her artistic practice and the works she creates, Zhan Hongmei questions herself in terms of ‘what,’ ‘why’ and ‘where.’ This questioning is an indispensable step that leads us to experience pure emotions, crucial for the placing of each form on the surfaces of her artworks. As a natural part of the process, Zhang Hongmei’s pieces produce a universe of colors and shapes. These “mental landscapes” are an intellectual interpretation and representation of her visionary world. The meditative atmosphere of her bidimensional and tridimensional masterpieces emphasizes the mission of her artistic proposal and the value of her legacy to the history of art, the legacy of a creator that doesn’t know boundaries in a world always in constant movement and transformation.

Zhang Hongmei, Fall Deep Red, 2017, cloth and acrylic, 188.97” x 82.67.”

Zhang Hongmei, Fall Deep Red, 2017, cloth and acrylic, 188.97” x 82.67.”

In traditional Eastern art, the artists and craftsmen, who are not allowed to represent human beings, let their imaginations play with patterns and forms instead. The Chinese thought of art as a means of reminding people of great examples of virtue in the golden ages of the past and the spirit of Confucius. But also, the Chinese placed the painter on the same level as the inspired poet.

Zhang Hongmei, Ink Blossom, 2017, cloth and acrylic, 188.97” x 82.67.”

Zhang Hongmei, Ink Blossom, 2017, cloth and acrylic, 188.97” x 82.67.”

The religions of the East taught that nothing was more important than the right kind of meditation. A mental exercise of sorts. Zhang Hongmei’s creative works help us meditate on simple things found in nature like water, the sky or a solid rock for instance. Void of a particular doctrine, Zhang Hongmei’s art provides enough material for one to engage in deep thought. She is a young, devout creator who offers a versatility and dynamism with no conventional style. Her influence in the contemporary Chinese artistic expression will give the art scene a fresh air of “New Pop.”

Zhang Hongmei is an influential artist with an immense future who truly represents the artists of the new millennium, art with open boundaries and much more…

Zhang Hongmei solo exhibition at Shandong Museum, China, installation view.

Zhang Hongmei solo exhibition at Shandong Museum, China, installation view.

Zhang Hongmei is presenting her exhibition “Xi’An Warriors and Mental Landscapes” at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet, in Noventa di Piave. Italy from October 25 to January 7, 2018. Early next year she will exhibit her installation China Colours at Palazzo del Rettorato, University of Turin, Italy. The installation will be on view during the months of January and February 2018.

Zhang Hongmei is represented worldwide by Diffusione Italia International Group Srl. Via Roma 39 10072 Caselle Torinese, Turin, Italy | Phone: +39 011 9961233 | info@diffusioneitaliainternationalgroup.com.

Luisa Cárdenas is an arts writer and curator based in Miami. She is director at 108 Ediciones.

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