Ivar Zeile of Plus Gallery won't even pretend to explain what's going on in the mind of painter Xi Zhang, the Chinese-born, Denver-based phenom whose first solo show at Plus, 11 Ceremonies, opens tonight. "This our first opportunity with Xi to present something with a distinct focus on works that are so spectacular, both in cohesion and scale," he says simply, with maybe just a little tone of awe. "Xi's works always develop along similar themes of figures and faces, but this time, his reach really pushes the envelope. You get this sense of him integrating abstraction into his figurative work -- as part of the background, and the way he's treating faces as mass."
Suffice it to say, Zhang's often large-scale canvases each stand alone in a world all their own, boiling with color and some kind of Xi-ness that only the artist can understand. And that's enough for Zeile, who's just plain thrilled to be hosting the new solo of a major emerging artist who's still in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen.
"It's been a thrill to develop with him," he says. "I've come to see him as a pure, raw talent who is truly driven to do what he does, and the cultural context of his work is one of its most unique elements. It's so much more than his being from China. Part of the experience with Xi is that I think he really does perceive himself as a Colorado artist, just because his career has blossomed so much here."
See why Zhang is destined for recognition: 11 Ceremonies opens tonight with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. and continues through April 14 at Plus, 2501 Larimer Street; the artist will also give a free talk at 6:30 p.m. on March 28. Visit www.plusgallery.com or call 303-296-0927 for more information.
Wednesdays-Saturdays. Starts: March 8. Continues through April 14, 2012