Vivien Zhang’s paintings present a cultural and geographical fluidity which interrogates the palimpsestic nature of contemporary culture and the paradoxes of our information age. As a digital native, Zhang assumes the role a passive recipient in an ever-increasingly digitally mediated world, and makes apparent the fragmented and sporadic ways in which we consume information.
Zhang collates motifs from personal and collective shared experiences and manifest them in various combinations in her paintings. These motifs are often derived from multiple contexts and cultures, or share properties of ambiguity. Assembled in the space of her canvases, the motifs collide and defy their origin interpretations, generating open networks and “alternative landscapes” for an imagined generation of third-culture (individuals who were raised in a culture other than that of their parents' or the culture of their country of nationality), digital inhabitants. Examples include the mathematical shape Gömböc, Central Asian kilims, “manicules” found in early European manuscripts, and spiral columns from Baroque churches.