Hans Theys is een twintigste-eeuws filosoof en kunsthistoricus. Hij schreef en ontwierp tientallen boeken over het werk van hedendaagse kunstenaars en publiceerde honderden essays, interviews en recensies in boeken, catalogi en tijdschriften. Al deze publicaties zijn gebaseerd op samenwerkingen of gesprekken met de kunstenaars in kwestie.

Dit platform werd samengesteld door Evi Bert (M HKA / Centrum Kunstarchieven Vlaanderen). Het kwam tot stand in samenwerking met de Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerpen (Onderzoeksgroep ArchiVolt), M HKA, Antwerpen en Koen Van der Auwera. Met dank aan Idris Sevenans (HOR) en Marc Ruyters (Hart Magazine).


Yi Zhang - 2021 - Room for rapprochement [EN, essay]
Tekst , 1 p.




Hans Theys



Room for rapprochement

About Yi Zhang's work


Yi Zhang (Wuhan, 1996) studied painting in Guangzhou. In 2016, an Erasmus exchange brought her to Antwerp for six months. In 2018 she returned to Belgium for a master's degree in visual arts. The next year she won the Stockman's Art Book Prize and showed drawings in Inbox, M HKA. Today she lives in Amsterdam, where she was offered a six-month residency.

In China, Zhang worked with different media: video, photography, drawing, sculptural installations and oil paintings on canvas. In one canvas we recognize the shape of a saucer and glued volumes that were given an extra shadow by means of paint. The same happened with wire sculptures attached to the wall, which were given a shadow applied to the wall with a pencil. When she paints, she only uses white and black paint, which get a blue hue due to their mixing and the contrast with the yellow paper. In this minute, almost invisible birth of colour, her gaze shows itself and we also find an explanation for her work with dust, which she obtains by sifting sawdust.

Dust creeps everywhere. It's unstoppable. Originally, Zhang used it as an image for snowed-in, frozen, forgotten emotions, decaying because they have never been put into words. At the same time, she uses dust as an almost colourless pigment that can give an entire room a soft, almost invisibly shiny skin.

Zhang also makes incisions. She takes plates or cups and pushes them against a rotating grinding wheel. Her entire work consists of such minute decisions, singular interventions, that change the appearance of things. Plates are fit into each other or provided with a star that is only visible when you hold them up to the light. A wooden door is stripped longitudinally of a triangular wedge, so that it can be folded at a 90° angle and becomes a sculpture reminiscent of panelling or a pedestal. Another door has a horizontal incision in the middle, so that it appears to be kneeling or praying.

She also worked with human hair. For one work, she was rolling balls with friends' hair. These balls were attached to the wall at the maximum height of the person in question. For another work, she first cuts tiny pieces of hair above a white plate on the floor. She then taps the edge of the plate with the scissors so that the pieces of hair on the edge of the plate fall to the floor or sink to the centre of the plate. The white, hairless circle that appears is the unpredictable face of the sculpture. An empty, open space. A space for rapprochement or meditation. An invitation to an intimate relationship with things and with each other.

Zhang lets the space breathe by means of small additions. Her drawings are minimal and fall apart in hairlines. The white cover of her book is printed with a stain of white UV varnish. Like dancing dust, only visible when a beam of light enters. Like a timid proposition, a restrained opinion, a barely expressed predilection.



Montagne de Miel, 17 August 2021