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Past Project Exposures: Zhiwan Cheung: Hanging Fruit

May 11–August 14, 2016

A man in orange body paint and an orange loincloth walks down a grassy path toward the camera. The path cuts through lush, tropical trees and bright blue sky can be seen peaking through the leaves.

The Warhol presents the Exposures series: Hanging Fruit, an original installation by Zhiwan Cheung. Cheung’s practice focuses on the intersection of personal history, identity, and place. Through installation and video, Cheung explores the seemingly banal details of our everyday lives that can harbor important messages about race. The naming conventions of house paints such as Chinatown Orange, 50YR 18/650, found in home improvement stores and sold by Glidden Paints, is one example of how stereotypes are deeply rooted in our commercial society. For this window installation, Cheung places large plastic banana trees painted in bold, Chinatown Orange. One can find references to Warhol’s 1966 Velvet Underground album cover, now an iconic image of the screen-printed banana, with the exposed fruit on the inside of the cover. Store products hang within and emerge from the trees—a juxtaposition that speaks to the close connection between identity and commercial consumption.

Cheung began his career as a painter with a series of large-scale still-life paintings of bananas. After moving into installation and new media practices, he has repurposed the banana as a means of engaging in a dialogue about race. The banana tree draws upon the vernacular labeling of Asian-Americans as bananas, i.e. yellow on the outside and white on the inside. In the end, Hanging Fruit can act as a catalyst for changing the ways we name, categorize, project and internalize identity.

Zhiwan Cheung is earning an MFA in sculpture from Carnegie Mellon University, and he earned a BFA in painting at Cornell University. He has shown work in Pittsburgh at the Frame Gallery, Revision Space, The Miller Gallery, Assemble, and has participated in the Six x Ate: Artist Dinner/Series. He has exhibited in group shows both nationally and internationally in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, South Korea, and Berlin. Cheung employs sculpture, film, and performance to focus on the meaning and space between identities while examining the feelings and borders of displacement.

Exposures is curated by Jessica Beck, associate curator of art.