The paintings presented in “Shelter of Desire” are some of the most recent from a major, ongoing series “Metallic Leaf Garden,” which was initiated in 2014. The paintings explore how the individual’s mind reshape‘s one’s physical environment. Contemporary pyschological theory allows that our conscious, emotions and subconscious can be akin to “paint” that consistently colors our reality. My investigation towards this incorporates a variety of individual psychological realms, depicting them in fictionalized surroundings to justify the relationship between one’s perception and one’s reality. I utilize a mixture of expressionist/abstract aesthetics in a subtle, theatrical way to construct the characters’ environments, reflecting on their internal thoughts, struggles, personality, and/or problems.

Xi Zhang, 2016


Xi Zhang transforms a walk in the woods, an everyday activity or the sailing of a boat into a transformative experience, fusing sentiment and imagination through paint to bring the viewer into a dreamy worldview. “In Shelter of Desire ” large-scale paintings reveal emotive stories through Zhang’s bold and expressive brushstrokes and deft use of paint, sometimes transparent in muted tones and at others thickly layered in jewel-like hues, but always inviting us to share in the experience of desire through subtle moments.


Andra Archer, 2016


Born in 1984 in Kaifeng, China, Xi Zhang has been immersed in the practice of art throughout his entire life. Upon completion of his studies in painting at China’s Beijing Institute of Art and Design, he moved to the United States to further his artistic training at Denver, Colorado’s Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from RMCAD in 2008, and that same year was recognized by then Denver Post art critic Kyle MacMillan as the “Emerging Artist of the Year.” Zhang continued from there with his masters studies in painting at the University of Colorado, Boulder, receiving his MFA from the institution in 2011. That same year he was named one of the “12 Best Colorado Artists Under 35” as well as one of seven “Pathfinders” in the arts also by MacMillan in the Denver Post.

Zhang has presented his work in a number of notable solo exhibitions throughout Colorado, including Xi Zhang: 21st Century DNA at the McNichols Civic Center Building, presented in conjunction with the City of Denver in 2013 and Bone at Plus Gallery, Denver in 2014. In 2011 he was commissioned by CNN for their “Ripple” online international art project in commemoration of the ten year anniversary of 9/11, with his painting receiving more than four million hits from the news channels website. Later that year Zhang delivered a Logan Lecture at the Denver Art Museum as part of the prestigious series’ fall focus on International Contemporary Chinese Artists. In 2012 Zhang received his United States citizenship as an “Artist of extraordinary ability,” paving his way forward towards a career as a US-based artist. Immediately following that honor he was selected by the Denver Biennial of the Americas to represent the United States at the URRA artist residency program in Buenos Aires. In 2016 Zhang received the Gold Medal top prize for painting for Art Forward contest #5 and has been nominated for the John Moores Painting Prize with related exhibition at the Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai, as well as the Premio Combat Prize, with related exhibition in Livorno, Italy. Zhang is serving as Artist in Residence with Marc Straus Gallery, New York City from May through July 2016. Zhang’s work has been acquired by some of the most prominent contemporary collectors and curators in the state of Colorado and throughout the United States.

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Exhibition Images