Mar 19th 2023

Leah Ke Yi Zheng: Leah Ke Yi Zheng

@ 4th Ward Project Space

5338 S Kimbark Ave, Chicago, IL 60615

Opening Sunday, March 19th, from 4PM - 7PM

On view through Sunday, April 16th

Leah Ke Yi Zheng

March 19 – April 16, 2023

Reception for the Artist
Sunday, March 19, 4:00 – 7:00 P.M.

Leah Ke Yi Zheng’s movement in the key of irregularity finds its new expression in her eponymous exhibition, Leah Ke Yi Zheng, at 4th Ward Project Space. Invisibility and its materialism operate on either side of her arrangement of five new silk paintings. Th e mystery and limits of recognition are exposed in these delicate linear works that appear empty at a distance, intricate midway, and u nraveled up close. Their near-monochrome nature clarifies into machine parts, melting faces, and ambiguous landscapes, but we are never quite sure what it is that emerges at the translucent boundary between perception and knowledge.

Zheng hand-crafts her non-rectangular stretchers from mahogany, rosewood, and other warm-toned woods, an attentiveness which itself requires a careful arrangement of nonstandard angles. Her dialectical relation to convention continues in the realm of representation, where, in this exhibition, there comes to be a focus on the directions of the painted line, an entangled line arity that bears a sensuous similarity to the folds, creases, and wrinkles of the stretched silk material.
The fusée is a wheel to be found in mechanical clocks — in Zheng’s body of Fusée paintings, it is pictorially transformed into an iconic construct of time’s enigma. In the instance here, her disappearing white Fusée suggests a vertical atemporality and installs contrast at the level of the line. Another motific variation occurs in the central painting Untitled (melting women. side) installed on 4th Ward’s column — the dark dividing bar, found in other works by Zheng, becomes both forecasted shadow and painted negation of depth. The exhibition space’s steel support column is simulated into the representation and surface of the painting, allowing the base structure to become frontal. It may be this shift or relocation or inversion that gives occasion to the artist to trace instability into the fissures of identification and apprehension, with lines that deviate from the contours of human faciality. Is the dividing bar also a lin e, also an edge, also an entrance?
In the Untitled (rose island) painting, a glowing structure resembles the Republic of Rose Island, which was a brief, self-proclaimed anarchist state. Light is converted again into the fabric of the final painting, Untitled. Perhaps there is a horizon above the horizon. Perhaps Zheng’s exhibition is an antechamber, an island shining invisibly into unknown states.
Leah Ke Yi Zheng was born and raised in China where she attended Xiamen University. She has an MFA from the Scho ol of the Art Institute of Chicago and has recently exhibited at The Arts Club of Chicago, Soccer Club Club, and Caffé Centrale (Monte Castello di Vibio, Umbria).

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