Zhang Fuming: Props and Poses
16 December 2022 – 2 January 2023
AC43 Gallery is pleased to present Singapore printmaker Zhang Fuming’s latest exhibition, Props and Poses. Through this new series of work, Fuming delves into an observational criticism of the ‘fake it till you make it’ phenomenon and the middle-class obsessional pursuit with materials and ranks within society. Featuring 12 medium- and large-format mixed media woodcuts and 8 small drawings completed in the recent period of 2020-2022, the showcase provides audience an insightful survey of Fuming’s endeavour beyond conventional modes and formats of printmaking.
Zhang Fuming (b. 1989, Singapore) obtained his diploma in Fine Arts (Printmaking) from LASALLE College of the Arts in 2011. He specialises in woodcut and has over the years developed a body of work that harnesses the direct, efficient means of black-white woodcut narratives to express critical social messages. His stark, expressive use of blacks and whites takes after the technique of German printmaker, Kathe Kollwitz, who relies on bold, economical usage of blacks and whites to dramatise scenes of vulnerability, toil and destitution.
Props and Poses lends an observational criticism to the ‘fake it till you make it’ phenomenon and the middle-class obsessional pursuit with materials and ranks within society. Fuming deliberately modelled his woodcut compositions after certain types of images and photographic arrangements that pervade social media trends. The compositions evoke a photo-studio shoot setting where objects are arranged with figures in a particular fashion to create a seemingly spontaneous and objectively
positive image. Upon closer inspection, however, these figures and objects are simply incompatible and awkward. The objects may seem unnaturally placed to optimise frontal viewing, neglecting functionality in the process and resulting in a warp of perspective and proportion. The subject matter becomes incredibly awkward and artificially decorative, as opposed to an artist’s process of framing and composing an image. There exists an ironic subtlety in Fuming’s handling of the objects and their
significance within the setting of his composition, opening up for audience a contextual ambiguity to ruminate upon.
Nourishment, 2022, Mixed media on woodcut, 160 x 120 cm
Overgrown, 2022, Mixed media on woodcut, 120 x 120 cm
Venturing beyond the conventional practice of carving lines, ridges and reliefs to create an original composition in negative, Fuming treats the woodblock with carving tools and paints as a painter would a canvas, unveiling a monochrome relief composition on its surface through strategically chiselled shapes, lines and textures. Rather than being prints off the woodcut, each composition is presented as-is on the wood plank – at one with the artist’s material and carving process, and organically characterised by rough edges, imperfections, grains and frays. The image on the wood plank, though spartan, emanates stillness with a tremble of movement. This is because the composition is completed through tension and contrast from the seemingly brutish determination of the artist to create the desired image against the woodgrain, allowing the struggles of the artist’s knife to show through in detail.