This Summer, Rook & Raven are proud to present new work by graduates Vivien Zhang and Laurence Owen. The exhibition, curated by Aretha Campbell, will draw on the Royal Academy’s show, entitled A New Spirit in Painting., which set the tone for a Renaissance of painting in the 80s. Both Owen and Zhang’s work encapture a fascination with form, inviting a dialogue between painting and sculpture, and its place within the context of the prevailing art scene.

I think the beauty and excitement of painting is its potential to present a world for the viewer to inhabit, without instructions as to how to negotiate and understand it. - Fiona Rae

Vivien Zhang (B. 1990), a graduating student from the Royal College of Art, looks at ideas of repetition, authority and the “excessive” through her work. Born in Beijing and having lived in Nairobi, Bangkok and now London, Zhang in her paintings constructs self-perpetual systems and revisits specific personal objects of significance. References are employed from the recesses of cultural history (such as Chinese bronze vessels from Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties), African jugs made from old pirate ships that occupied her childhood home, and traces of elements from contemporary culture.

Instead of accepting the given space and time, Zhang’s works aim to introduce new pulsional (Jean-François Lyotard) economies. A play of absence and presence is manifested in her paintings through repetitions followed by eruptions, the intersecting drives of gestures, and accelerations within stutters. Her work challenges what may be recognised and misrecognised within fields of modulating motifs, resisting assumptions of the unknown that is outside presence (Jonathan Miles).

British artist Laurence Owen (B. 1984), is currently a student at the Royal Academy Schools, and utilises his work as an investigation into the evolution of a thing – be it an object, an image, a letter or a word. In an attempt to see what happens in that journey when these things are taken out of their original context and placed into another, a different level of investigation is triggered. The representation of the form, whether a painting or a ceramic shape, often maintains an underlining recognition as to where its influence has been drawn, which can be seen in his piece, Self Portrait as Ancient Relic.

Owen’s practice is predominantly concerned with exploring the possibility of an endless metamorphic growth and development from a singular source: How an idea, not divorced from the physicality of making, can evolve and manifest into other things, whilst managing to maintain the basis from where it comes. By using the traditionally recognizable cultural attributes for art (painting) and function (ceramics), Owen aims to place these things alongside each other to create a connecting dialogue between the two, and, in turn, his and Zhang’s paintings.

Rook & Raven Gallery

7 Rathbone Place
London W1T IHN United Kingdom
Ph. +44 (0)20 73230805

Opening hours

Tuesday - Friday from 11.00am to 6.30pm
Saturdays from 11.00am to 5.00pm

Related images
  1. Laurence Owen, Fissure, oil on canvas, 135 x 135 cm, 2013
  2. Vivien Zhang, Partition, Three, Oil on canvas, 180 x 200 cm, 2013
  3. Laurence Owen, Heirs + Graces 2, oil on canvas, 135 x 135 cm, 2013
  4. Laurence Owen, Cool Aid, oil on board, 64 x 47 cm, 2013
  5. Laurence Owen, Self Portrait As Ancient Relic, oil on canvas, 35 x 135 cm, 2013
  6. Vivien Zhang, Stencil Negative (Not Dragons Not), Oil on canvas, 180 x 150 cm, 2014