by Ariadna Zierold
Louise Zhang is a Chinese-Australian artist based in Sydney, Australia. Spanning painting, sculpture and installation, her work negates the space between the attractive and repulsive. With an interest in horror cinema, particularly body horror, Zhang investigates the idea of the visceral as medium, method and symbol in negotiating horror as art form.
Nianhua (年画) is a popular kind of print in China adorning people’s doors to celebrate the new year and to act as a sign of good will that says goodbye to the past and hello to the future. A great portion of these print depict pudgy babies in states of low-key glee as they recline on giant flowers, rid fish or cuddle peaches; it’s a concoction of sweetness that just makes you want to spew up all over the place.
‘New Year Rot!’ brings together this Nianhua imagery with the visual language of the realm of purgatory known in Chinese mythology as Diyu (地獄). This project is a continuation of the artist’s recent research into how situating her desire to attract and repulse her audience is a consequence of the kinds of feelings the horror film genre, and particularly body-horror, generates.