What is it about these hair drawings by Hong Chun Zhang that makes one stop and stare? Is it the fact that we don’t often see larger-than-life hair? Is it Zhang’s hyper-realistic rendering that appears to depict almost every strand? Or maybe the format that lets the drawings roll down off the wall, onto the floor? Surely all of these traits combine to make something that you’ve never seen before.
Hong Chun Zhang was born and raised in China. When she was 15, she won the National Competition to attend the high school attached to the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. She excelled at painting, but the content of her work was restricted. In 1996, she came to America for her graduate work and was able to explore new ideas. On her site, Zhang says this about her hair drawings -
Twin Spirits are large charcoal hair drawings, self-portraits of my twin sister and me. I use long hair to exaggerate our major characteristic and as a metaphor to reveal something that is beyond the hair. These drawings are presented as scroll paintings in order to accentuate the length of the piece and the flow of long hair. The larger than life-size scale creates a three-dimensional effect that extends the meaning beyond the surface. My most recent drawings and paintings on hair, however, is a new approach from personal to more universal. This time, long hair is meant to examine a woman’s complete life cycle.