Fan Art as Fine Art: The Paintings of Alice X. Zhang
For those actively involved and engulfed in the creative ventures of fandom, whether through deviantArt, AO3, the recesses of Fanfiction.net or Tumblr, fan art as a practice has evolved. Like fan fiction, fan art provides a creative outlet for fans to not only express their opinions but provide alternatives to the established medium. To put it simply, fan art is to fandom what illustration is to novels: an exercise in imagination.
Enter Alice X. Zhang, a member of the fandom generation who has taken the next step and made fan art her career.
Her work can be seen all over Tumblr as well as deviantArt, and her art is purchasable in various forms (iPhone cases, prints, pillows) on Society6. From Oscar nominated films (like the above painting from A Single Man) to TV cult classics (the header image being one of her paintings of Clara, the newest companion on Doctor Who ), she paints fan art that can only be described as fine art (fittingly, since her work can be found in the Bottleneck Gallery in New York City). Sure there are plenty of fan art hobbyists out there, but Alice Zhang managed to take a hobby and elevate it to fit into the very limited niche of the New York art world.
Zhang applies a different artistic perspective to fan art: the idea of creating atmosphere. With the use of vibrant color and brushstrokes (made an even more conscious choice by the fact that the majority of her work is digital), Zhang presents not a picture of a thing but a sensation. Reds, greens and yellows in the above painting of characters from A Single Man evoke passion and feeling. Color and composition elevate her work beyond mere illustration into the realm of the sublime.
And who knows, maybe the works of Zhang and others like her will be the beginning of a new trend in the highly opinionated field of gallery-quality fine art.
All of the images used are property of Alice X. Zhang and should not be reproduced without her permission. Support the arts by purchasing work on her Society6 page.