Through the use of non-traditional painting media and surfaces, Zhang Yunyao (b. 1985, Shanghai, China) explores the temporal nature of painting, as well as the instability and intersections of historical and personal memory. Taking as his subjects biblical, classical, and mythological scenes immortalised by the master sculptors and painters of antiquity, Zhang renders his tableaux with hallucinatory precision, using notoriously unpredictable materials such as graphite and pastel on felt, which itself is unabsorbtive and prone to pilling. The artist’s slow and meticulous process of drafting and rubbing result in a hazy, textured surface with an abundance of depth and tone. His choice to often superimpose images, creating the illusion of a photographic double exposure, contributes to the rich materiality of his paintings that seem to make tangible the sensation of time itself. Zhang graduated from the Department of Oil Paintings from Academy of Fine Arts at Shanghai Normal University in 2007.

About the project

"These two works for Louis Vuitton's 200th birthday continue my felt paintings series ‘Study in Figures’ that I began in 2016, they also present a brand new visual experience in terms of image creation and scale. The bright, strong colours and expressive textures in the work are inspired by the legendary Louis Vuitton. Felt has always been an important material for me, it guides me to experiment and explore practice and creation of art. As a painting medium, felt broadens possibilities and potentials of painting. When a felt painting is viewed at a close range, it creates a unique experience with its fabric like plush surface and its ability to absorb sound, thus generating a sound-insulated space within which viewers can engage with the work. My entire painting process is an echo of memory and its waning in a wider context, which coincidentally testifies to the unique temporality of painting itself."

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