Shellie Zhang is a Toronto-based artist who was born in Beijing and raised in various parts of China, the United States, and Canada. Her practice primarily revolves around painting and drawing, with an occasional photo, installation, or ephemera based counterpart. Addressing issues of language and sign, her work takes a critical perspective on mass media and contemporary pop narratives while reflecting on nostalgia in the 21st century. Much of her practice revives past depictions of female characters in an attempt to expose their continuing permanence within today’s culture. In particular, she focuses on the inner conflict that the contradictions within media create, resulting in a confessional and partly autobiographical body of work. As an artist who works with pictures and words, her work uses a method of direct aphorisms and haunting imagery to discuss the underlying irony which saturates social customs. Through the repurposing of familiar clichés and idioms, she uses the techniques of mass communication and advertising to reveal the incongruences within idealized notions of gender, identity, the body, and popular culture. Though working with multiple shades of meaning and the ironies that undercut our delusions, Zhang’s practice is a demonstration of using the skills of language and pictography in order to respond to the accepted truisms that she perceives as threatening. By uniting visual cues from the past with present day iconography, Zhang demonstrates a criticism of areas within history and a cautionary reminder of the state of the present.
To explore Zhang’s work click here: http://www.shelliezhang.com/