Situations: Rachel Zhang

January 19 - February 17, 2024

Rachel Zhang


January 19—February 17, 2024

39 West 14th, Ste 308, New York, NY 10011, USA


When one door closes another one opens, as the saying goes. In Rachel Zhang’s paintings, however, we are afforded a glimpse behind those doors that exist somewhere in between, those that have been left ajar. The artist’s densely layered, surrealist tableaus, invite viewers to loiter at the threshold, to play voyeur to the fleeting moments of private life as they unfold in public spaces. In the artist’s first solo presentation at Fragment Gallery, titled Situations, we are enveloped into various scenes from a fictional “endless city”. 


Zhang’s subject matter lies within the dialectic between body and urban environment. Fusing together the mundane with the strange, the artist crafts visual mythologies that attempt to map the hierarchies and social systems that dictate our perceptions of control and agency. Here, a fire hydrant becomes a mother, a corporate zombie sifting through documents accordions into a filing cabinet, and a pair of translucent, watery legs hesitate at the edge of a public pool diving board. 


A wry storyteller, Zhang’s paintings reference literary influences that include Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s psychic parables and Italo Calvino’s fantasy worlds. It makes sense then, that when constructing her multi-layered panoramas, Zhang often begins her paintings with words, jotting down a phrase or snippet of prose in an attempt to capture a feeling, before building her worlds around them. This practice of translation results in lush, lyrical representations that attempt to strike at the disorientation lying at the heart of modern life. 


The nested compositions found throughout the artist’s works stylistically recall the spatial warpings of German artist Neo Rauch. It is at the seams of these colliding narratives that we leap across various time and space continuums, touching upon the Asian American histories, family stories, and contemporary gender dynamics that populate Zhang’s own personal mythologies. Peering into the shards of the artist’s kaleidoscopic mise en scene, we are reminded that not is always as it seems—all it takes may be a second glance to reveal the infinite possibilities and permutations offered by our present realities. — Isabel Ling


Rachel Zhang (b. 1998, New York, USA) graduated from Cooper Union and was awarded the Pietro and Alfrieda Montana Memorial Prize for Drawing in 2020. In 2023, she received the Zeta Orionis Fellowship and attended the Vermont Studio Center Residency. 'Situations,' opening in the middle of January 2024 at Fragment (New York), is Zhang's very first solo show.