Location: Haw Contemporary Stockyards
Haw Contemporary is pleased to present Tornado Warning, a solo exhibiton of new work by Hong Chun Zhang.
Tornado Warning includes one site-specific room installation, one large scroll painting and three small framed charcoal drawings of Tornado Hair. I combine my identity long hair with American mid-west iconic Tornado to create a surrealistic visual experience. This exhibition also reflects my cultural identity as a Chinese American immigrant as well as a Kansan.
Born and raised in China, I have had long hair since high school and it has become my major characteristic. Despite the personal bound with long hair, I did not incorporate long hair into my artwork until I moved to America during my graduate studies at the University of California in Davis. My first long hair series in the USA is about my personal identity and family portraits. I used disembodied images of long, straight, black hair as a reference to my evolving identity. The result are black and white charcoal drawings produced on a massive scale with fine details.
After I moved to Lawrence in 2004, my work began to take on a different dimension based on my new home. I fell in love with the open plains of Kansas and started to draw and paint iconic places such as Flint Hills and prairie waves of hair with round hay bales. My current work shifts from the gentle waves of grain to the disquieting and chaotic rush of a tornado. Kansas weather, like life, is unpredictable and I have learned to adjust and appreciate it. My room installation piece includes ten large paintings (each 3ft wide by 9ft high, acyclic on canvas) that are connected as one single folded Chinese screen painting in a 30ft long half circle. Inside is a horizontally painted tornado hair image. The audience are invited to walk into the whirlwind of hair and surrounded by the swirling storm. They feel like being inside the moving tornado. My other work in this show (one large scroll painting and three small charcoal drawings) depict a massive tornado from a distance. However, at a closer look, each stroke becomes a peaceful strand of hair. Even though tornados are dangerous and unpredictable, they are also beautiful and dynamic.
Hong Chun Zhang, 2018