Art has been with Shao Yuan Zhang for the majority of his extraordinary, and at times difficult, life journey. Raised in communist China, Zhang was sent to the countryside as a teenager where he worked in the rice fields and created Cultural Revolution propaganda art for the communist party.
He immigrated to the U.S. in the 1980s and settled in Utah to attend art school. Today, Zhang depicts the vast landscape and red rock canyons of southern Utah with a surreal, otherworldly vision. His simplified forms accentuate the stark, isolated feeling of the grand canyons, yet there is a great sense of possibility in these open landscapes.
The prints are monotypes, meaning each piece in the edition varies slightly from the next. They are printed on Asian rice paper using a technique derived from ancient Chinese painting. Up close, the work has an outstanding amount of detail. Zhang illustrates the rock formations with many delicate lines and luminous colors to capture how the light transforms the rock faces. His energetic paintings of racehorses also combine a contemporary feel with a traditional Chinese ink painting style. Through the combination of subject matter and technique, Zhang incorporates both the East and West in his work.