FREAK WITH NO LEASH Z THE RATTZEINAB DIOMANDE AKA Z THE RAT It’s What You Don’t See
7920 Santa Monica Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90046
New Image Art is pleased to present Zeinab Diomande, a.k.a. Z the Rat’s Los Angeles debut solo exhibition, “It’s What You Don’t See,” featuring her signature portrait style of vivid paintings.
Who does not want to be the heroine of their own story, free from the confines of the archaic colonizing systems that render one at the mercy of the hegemony? Tasting one’s own power and manifesting that in the real is akin to forming armor. And carving out a path for no one but oneself as a femme, in 2023, especially for a black femme, is the ultimate form of rebellion and is an act of self-preservation. Performing for no one is a liberating force and the ethos of painter, Zienab Diomande, also known as Z The Rat.
As a painter, she grapples with the differing apparatuses she encompasses, from her home in the Ivory Coast, Africa, to her most recent home, Philadelphia, USA. Through painting, she delves into the ego, melding fantasy with scenes of; landscapes and intimate spaces. Through atmospheric renderings with highly stylized motifs, Diomande brings her glossy technicolor world to the forefront of the canon, which is indicative of her generation. Diomande’s hyper pop meets grunge, whimsically studded makeup, and overall fabulously saturated protagonist not only resembles the vivacious artist herself but mirrors the youth style today. As her alter ego transforms in each painting, she unleashes a sense of self-defying mysticism, where chaos, self-love, self-realization, and courage coexist under the black gaze.
Zienab Diomande ’s exhibition title, “It’s What You Don’t See,” functions to break barriers with her audience. This objective can be felt through each stare and gesture her figures make. Moreover, she paints to provide nuance, where each character has no qualms in basking in their autonomous dreamscape. Her body of work explores all facets of her existence. According to the artist, she paints as “a way to spark a conversation about the idea of Black women and femmes in spaces where there is little to no representation. I’m playing with the idea of a heroine that is not here to save anyone. She’s just living her life and existing on her own time. Black femmes in my world will not carry anybody’s burden, nor will they be the world’s armrest.”
Fantasy and autonomy are the building blocks of creating a transgressive world for black femmes, which is where we meet Zeinab Diomande’s artistic vision this spring at New Image Art.