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Vanishing Point

by Aleza Zheng

June 29 – August 3, 2024

SOOT is pleased to present "Vanishing Point," the first solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based multi-disciplinary artist Aleza Zheng. The site-specific installation presents two figures painted on organza, displayed one in front of the other. Zheng’s approach to figurative painting employs shadows to disorient and challenge traditional perceptions of painting and form. The two conflicting figures depicted on the dual layers of silk reference Ares and Mars, gods of war in Greek and Roman mythology, respectively. Portraying these classical figures facing off on a chessboard evokes the "objective attitude" of linear perspective in Western art. Zheng uses this composition to encourage the viewer to consider fixed viewpoints within the Western canon of painting and in our day-to-day perception. However, when viewed through the vertical perspective proposed by Hito Steyerl in her concept of "free fall," the interpretation shifts. Neither of the opposing parties knows that the ground they believe they are standing on is actually falling. Alternatively, because they are both falling at the same speed, they perceive themselves as standing on solid ground. The perspective is one of disorientation, groundlessness, and perpetual motion. Zheng believes that within the complexities of globalization, our identities are greatly influenced by our environment. She emphasizes the importance of observing ourselves as spectators in an endless race and considering how we perceive and construct reality. Distinguishing between what is real and what is mere illusion has become increasingly challenging due to advancements in technology. We are now living in a world where the influence of forces shaping collective consciousness in unreal spaces later manifests as phenomena in reality, a reversal from the pre-internet era. The image on silk–reminiscent of silkscreens and the pop art movement–observes the spectacle of contemporary information, mass production and consumer society. As information and images disseminate, they degrade, progressively moving towards visual and semantic abstraction with each screenshot, edit, upload, and share. On various levels, we experience how the reception of this abstracted information, seemingly similar yet entirely distinct, influences reality through distortions. The shadows cast by the figures prompt us to look at the conditions of manipulation, exploitation, and influence that are typically hidden behind appearances. Against the backdrop of a chessboard, the gods of war are mere players in an inconclusive game, reduced to shadows in the essence of our "real" world. The installation denies the role of any passive observer, whilst the spectator is contested. As a witness to ethnic and national tensions, one must identify false distinctions and oppositions in the world. The installation not only raises the question of where we set our focus but prompts a continuous recognition of our position as individual actors within society.

- Vanishing Point 2024, oil on silk organza, 104 x 96 inches

Artist Profile
Aleza Zheng
Aleza Zheng (born 1999, Shenyang, China) is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Los Angeles. Her practice encompassing painting, sewing, and installation explores the vertiginous conflict between the individual and environment, questioning where one ends and the other begins. She received a BFA in painting and printmaking from ArtCenter College of Design in 2022. Born in China and raised in Canada, Aleza pursued her education in Los Angeles. Her work, influenced by the complexities of globalization, attempts to articulate a sense of disorientation and fluidity in being, highlighting how perception and meaning evolve within visual cultures. Her surfaces become sites where traditional dichotomies' fixed boundaries are challenged, offering a reflection on the continuous process of meaning-making and the inherent instability of cultural objects.
Aleza Zheng, Los Angeles, 2024. ©2024 Photography by Johnny Le. All Rights