I am a China born and Sydney based artist working in painting, drawing and printmaking. My work explores the idea of cartography as a creative strategy through an experimental painting process founded on cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary developments. Drawing on multi-perspective of Chinese landscape painting and Abstract Expressionism, I use aerial perspective as an observation device and as a conceptual framework to create mapped structure in painting through direct experience and Google maps. This combined examination resulted in the discovery of various contrasting patterns within local environment, which laid the ground for an exploration of complex languages in painting to create rhythm, balance and movement. These formal studies have led to experimental and open-ended development processes utilising different materials, techniques and approaches to push painting beyond the traditions of map-making.

My current practice began to emerge from 2019 with a series of painting of Cockatoo Island, where I investigated integrating Eastern and Western art traditions to explore the local Sydney landscape. These works became the foundation for my MFA research project which sought to develop a language of abstract representation of local place through cartography. I explored different methods of mark-making as a cross-disciplinary approach. These exercises generated contrasted and correlated languages in painting, such as the considered use of soft imagery of pouring with solid gesture of screen-printing to address the subject of the liminal within Chinese market gardens in Sydney region. These also prompted an exploration of installation as representational strategy for mapping, wherein I apply spatial arrangements to connect diverse compositions into connecting painted spaces.

Mei Zhao