BY STEPHANIE SPORN
Zadie Xa at Thaddaeus Ropac
Born in Canada and based in London, buzzy artist Zadie Xa finds much of her inspiration in her Korean heritage and diasporic identity. Not only was her work exhibited at Austrian gallery Thaddaeus Ropac’s Frieze Seoul booth, she also designed several handbags featured at one of the hottest tickets in town: the Lady Dior Celebration pop-up concept store in the Seongsu-dong neighborhood. Xa’s multidisciplinary works incorporate sculpture, painting, textile, light, sound, and performance, simultaneously channeled through her exploration of masquerade, costuming, and identity politics.
In addition to reinterpreting traditional Korean garments, Xa’s vibrant paintings are often surrounded by equally multichromatic patchwork frames, referencing traditional bojagi quilted textiles. While Xa’s subject matter can appear historical at first glance (she frequently incorporates Korean folklore and women-led practices, such as Korean shamanism), more subtle references to pop culture, music, and fashion make them decidedly contemporary. A testament to her works’ autobiographical nature, Xa uses recurring motifs, such as her Pekingese dog, and shells, which once housed creatures, to reflect her interest in interspecies communication.