Xu Zheng (b. 1995) is a Chinese artist who lives and works in Milan. He holds a BA in Fine Art (Painting) from the Bologna Academy of Fine Arts obtained in 2020. Xu is now studying for an MA in Fine Art at the same Academy. He has been involved in various shows, the most recent one held in 2020 entitled From a Newspaper Imposed, which took place at his Academy.
I work mainly with monochrome surfaces, through which I analyse the relationship between emptiness and space. Zheng borrows imagery taken from nature and things surrounding him, creating powerful artworks that instantly evoke a sense of tranquillity in the viewer.
The blank spaces present in his paintings aren't empty even when technically there aren't any forms or colours there; those spaces are a critical point in the works, to which the artist attaches great importance: according to him, the image breathes through the openings, and it's the space that gives life to the light brushstrokes next to them. The concept of white space is significant and is present in traditional Chinese painting, where all the figures serving a cathartic purpose have a white outline.
The stressing of the empty space is a Daoist feature: it is a philosophical concept, a synonym of void or nothingness. Daoism advocated attaining the limit of open space, retaining extreme stillness, further regarding that only the Dao (Way) accumulates space.
Empty space is regarded as the beginning of myriad things so that it can be considered a foundation of Daoist philosophy - Space is the heart's fasting. The Chan (Zen) school of Buddhism also emphasises that what is the form that is emptiness, what is the emptiness that is the form.
This concept is very present in the artwork presented at the Fair - entitled Flirt - it is simultaneously delicate, dynamic, and very much alive.
Text by Maria Myasnikova