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I am a Chinese-born artist based in Sydney, working in painting, drawing, and installation. Inspired by Chinese landscape tradition and abstract expressionism, my art practice explores cross-cultural approaches to living in different landscapes, incorporating overlaid mappings of geographic, topographic, linguistic, poetic, and historical cultural references in painted form.

As a migrant artist, my personal experience as a forced farming labourer during my teenage years in China, and as an immigrant in Australia, has indelibly shaped who I am. It informs my aim to communicate the engagements of multiculturalism through layered forms of cross-cultural mapping, an idea developed during my MFA studies.

Integrating historical and topographical research into my local landscape studies, I redefine the method of painting landscapes as relived migrant experiences that bridge past and present through open-minded experimental processes.

My current project focuses on the under-represented influence of 19th-century Chinese settlers on the Australian landscape, where local Indigenous and colonial histories are embedded within the physical characteristics of liminal, low-lying, densely farmed zones within local ecosystems. Utilising colours, forms, text, and various materials, I create paintings and installations to reinterpret the invisible history of displacement and relocation experiences of early Chinese settlers, transforming my research of local history and the natural environment into new possibilities for contemporary art-making.

 Through this process, I seek to embrace a culturally diverse position of place within the expanded field of painting, in which landscape can express living memories while simultaneously embodying an artistic process of understanding the nuanced social and cultured landscape in which we live.

Mei Zhao
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