Ethan Cohen Gallery is pleased to present Variations in Line | From Baltimore to Beijing, to Abidjan, and Back to New York, a group exhibition featuring works by Aboudia, Tony Shore, Xu Hualing, Zhang Hongtu, and Johan Wahlstrom.

Aboudia's multi-layered paintings offer a simultaneity of images and meanings that conduct a continuous discourse with each other and with the viewer. In any glance, the eye takes in one or another layer which is soon overcome by the next. We are aware of the vivid, brutal pageant of contemporary Africa weaving before us like a fabric of consciousness - soldiers, skulls, African fetishes, flashes of street life - expressed with vitality. The surfaces deploy fragments, cuttings, from bits of comic strips, magazine ads, newspaper images, set into the paintings' overall compositions so as to suggest current events cohering through the imagination into a troubled and troubling vision. In the end, though, the artist's gift of cohesion transforms chaos into vitality, painful events to esthetic redemption, so one is able to see the whole as a changeable tide forever renewing hope.

Known for his paintings on black velvet, Tony Shore elevates a medium often written off as kitsch or lowbrow through a mastery of technique and the sincerity with which he approaches his subjects. His paintings of family life, gang violence, and street crime are literally and figuratively dark, the subjects and medium intertwined, each with its own value and history. Tony Shore is the Chair of Painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art where he has been a professor since 2000. His many awards and honors include being a recipient of a Franz and Virginia Bader Fund grant, a winner of the Janet & Walter Sondheim Prize and the Bethesda Painting Prize, as well as several Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Awards. Shore has recently exhibited his works in a solo show at the York College Art Galleries. In addition to receiving his bachelor of fine arts at MICA, Shore studied at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and received his MFA from the Yale University School of Art.

Xu Hualing graduated with a master's degree in Chinese painting from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2003, and received her doctorate at CAFA in 2016. Xu currently lives in Beijing and teaches in the Department of Chinese Painting at CAFA. Xu has exhibited extensively in institutions, biennials, and museums globally. Xu Hualing is a leading artist in the realm of Chinese contemporary ink and Gongbi (fine-line). She utilizes a soft yet meticulous brushstroke to depict intimate and sensual representations of the female figure. Emphasizing visuality and painterliness, and playing down the production of philosophical discourse, Xu Hualing’s practice is a testament to technique, and the ability to evoke a sensuality in painting itself.

Zhang Hongtu is a conceptual artist working in a variety of media such as painting (sometimes with soy sauce), sculpture, collage, ceramics, digital imaging, and installation. His work explores the freedom of expression afforded to a Chinese artist living in the West. It also reflects on themes of authority and belief (specifically the power of iconic imagery) and cross-cultural 'East and West' connections. These themes are largely derived from his "outsider" standing as a Muslim in China and, after his move to the United States, as a Chinese citizen in the Western world.

Zhang Hongtu recently had a major retrospective exhibition at the Queens Museum, and at the National Palace Museum in Tapei. He has exhibited widely internationally, in institutions and museums such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Israel Museum, Museu Picasso, Bronx Museum of the Arts (Solo Exhibition), National Palace Museum, Taipei, and more. His work has been collected by renowned institutions and private collections such as the National Museum of Art, Beijing, China; Guangzhou Art Museum, Guangzhou, China; Bronx Museum of the Arts, NY; Princeton University Art Museum, NJ, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, among many others. Zhang Hongtu graduated from the Central Academy of Arts and Crafts in Beijing. He moved to New York in 1982, where he lives and works today.

Johan Wahlstrom, is one of today’s artists who is making a conscious effort to describe the social-political landscape of our contemporary world. He is a fifth-generation artist on his mother’s side. Though art was in his blood, his first creative direction was rock and roll, where he had a successful and long career as a keyboardist and singer, touring with Ian Hunter, Graham Parker, Mick Ronson, and many Scandinavian artists. After 18 years, the rock and roll life caught up with him. Wahlstrom moved to a small village in France where he did nothing but paint for seven years, part of that time under the tutelage of Swedish artist, Lennart Nystrom. Wahlstrom lives and works in Jersey City, NJ, USA. His works have been exhibited since 1998 across Europe and USA in solo shows and group shows with artists like Gerhard Richter, Santiago Sierra, Erwin Olaf, Picasso, Salvador Dali, Jake & Dinos Chapman, David Salle, and Andy Warhol.