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Zadie Xa

MA work

My most recent work ccentres around representations and perceptions of Otherness as mediated by popular culture, with a particular emphasis on hip-hop. I am fascinated with the fetishised manner in which contemporary re-presentations of coloured bodies often mirror racial tropes prevalent in Western history. Focusing on hip-hop allows for an investigation into the relationship between those who consume rap music/culture and the re-presentation of coloured bodies within the commodified landscape of entertainment.

Through the combination of stereotyped imagery, my aim is to not only expose the cyclical nature of racial tokenism, but to also explore my own outsider status as a non-black hip-hop fan

Recently I have begun to implement three-dimensional objects both found and constructed into my work. I see these components as additions to the expanding and interchangeable compositions of my paintings. The positioning of my work is never fixed and new objects and images can be introduced and juxtaposed at any time. Rather than focus directly on one painting I have started to extract the elements I would normally place within one picture onto a variety of objects and paintings.

My preference for scattered material stems from my interest in how separate, non-related images and objects visually operate when arranged together. This approach to image construction allows for more experimentation, frivolity and layered readings, while introducing the physical negotiation of objects in my painting practice


  • Dream Catcher
  • MA Degree


    School of Humanities


    MA Painting, 2014

  • My work focuses on dominant Eurocentric thinking and viewpoints as mediated by movies, television, Western literature and general popular culture.  I am interested in the two-sided role exoticism plays in Western society, as a device to justify colonialism and to explore fantasy. In my work I use visual stereotypes and clichéd themes that uphold this European construct of the exotic, conflating romantic ethnic fantasy and the history of painting.

    I work in painting, collage and most recently sculpture.  Working much like a dj or music producer, I layer and 'sample' pre-existing images, coloured forms and personal narrative into new objects and pictures. By directly appropriating familiar imagery I am able to position these visual components into new conceptual layers, creating alternative representations with the aim to gently reveal or satirise racist, classicist and sexist ideologies present within the original image.

  • Degrees

  • BFA General Fine Arts, Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, 2007
  • Exhibitions

  • 'noperative Mythology', Blyth Gallery, Imperial College, London, UK, 2014; 'Premio Ibercaja Pintura Joven 2010, Centro Cultural Ibercaja Guadalajara Spain, Centro Cultural Ibercaja Huesca Spain, 2011; My Skin is Dark but My Heart is White (solo), La Fresh Gallery, Madrid, Spain, 2010; Una Gran Familia, La Fresh Gallery, Madrid, Spain, 2010; Premio Ibercaja Pintura Joven 2010, Museo Camon Aznar, Zaragoza, Spain, 2010; Premio Ibercaja Pintura Joven 2009, Fundación Fran Daurel de Barcelona, Museo Maeztu de Estella, Navarra, Spain, 2010; Premio Ibercaja Pintura Joven 2009, Museo Camon Aznar, Zaragoza, Spain, 2009; Return the Tiger to the Mountain, with Jessica Jang, Little Mountain Studios, Vancouver BC, Canada, 2008