In this episode of A brush with... Ben Luke talks to the Canadian-Korean artist Zadie Xa about her influences—from the worlds of literature, film, music and, of course, art—and the cultural experiences that have shaped her life and work.
Xa was born in 1983 in Vancouver, Canada, and is now based in London. She explores folklore and speculative fiction, familial and collective histories, diasporic identity and the climate emergency through painting, sculpture, film and performance, often brought together in fantastical installations.
She talks about artists from Lee Bul to Hieronymus Bosch and Kara Walker; her interest in Korean folk art and folk tales; how she returns to the science fiction novels of Ursula K. Le Guin and Octavia E. Butler; and the early and ongoing influence of hip hop and rappers like Cam’ron. Plus, she gives insight into her life in the studio and answers our usual questions, including the ultimate: what is art for?
• Zadie Xa: House Gods, Animal Guides and Five Ways 2 Forgiveness, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 20 September-May 2023
• The Condition of Being Addressable, Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, until 4 September
• Hospital Rooms: Like there is hope and I can dream of another world, Hauser & Wirth, London, 19 August-14 September
• Wonder Women, Jeffrey Deitch, Los Angeles, 3 September-22 October
• Soy Dreams of Milk, Blindspot Gallery, Hong Kong, from 10 September
• The New Bend, curated by Legacy Russell, Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles, 27 October-30 December
• The Horror Show: a Twisted Tale of Modern Britain, Somerset House Studios, London, 27 October-19 February 2023
• Jeju Biennale, Jeju Island, South Korea, 16 November-12 February 2023