Zadie Xa

Zadie Xa (b. 1983, Vancouver) is a Korean-Canadian artist based in London. Xa has developed an expansive practice that addresses the nature of diasporic identities, global histories, familial legacies and interspecies communication. She explores these themes through immersive installations that appeal to the sensory experience of the viewer, often incorporating painting, sculpture, textile, sound and performance elements. Xa draws upon her Korean heritage as she seeks to elevate narratives that have been erased or repressed by the West and occupying powers. For her, art offers a means to analyse socio-political conditions and cultural behaviours through a lens of masquerade, play, costuming and storytelling. Embracing a highly collaborative mode of working, she has developed ongoing exchanges with dancers and musicians.

Cultivating a heavily research-based way of working, Xa takes inspiration from diverse global references: from the history of art and craft, to speculative fiction, pop culture, music and fashion. Korean folklore and mythology, in particular, offer rich visual and narrative traditions that inform her interdisciplinary practice, providing her projects with a ‘skeleton or backbone’ that allows her to create points of linking herself to other artists and a timeline in history. She highlights matrilineal and women-led practices within these traditions, such as Korean shamanism, to envisage new social arrangements and ways of relating to the natural world, positioning her work towards today’s pressing ecological questions. These varied references are reconceived through an autobiographical framework to establish a deeply personal mythology, epitomised by the motifs that recur across her paintings, costumes and sculptures. 

Diverse modes of textile production have become a central strand in Xa’s practice. Clothes and costumes are worn in performance and presented as standalone pieces. In turn, multicoloured patchwork frames referencing traditional Korean quilting techniques, such as bojagi, often surround her paintings. Inspired by traditional Korean garments and techniques, as well as the fashion trends familiar to the artist from her upbringing in Canada, the costumes materialise her exploration of diasporic identities by addressing the role of fashion in self-presentation.

Solo exhibitions include ‘Rough hands weave a knife’, Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris (2024); ‘Nine Tailed Tall Tales: Trickster, Mongrel, Beast’, Space K, Seoul (2023);‘House Gods, Animal Guides and Five Ways 2 Forgiveness’, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2022);‘Long ago when tigers smoked’, The Box, Plymouth (2022);‘Moon Poetics 4 Courageous Earth Critters and Dangerous Day Dreamers’, Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds (2021); ‘Moon Poetics 4 Courageous Earth Critters and Dangerous Day Dreamers’, Remai Modern, Saskatoon (2020); ‘Child Of Magohalmi and the Echos of Creatoin’, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea (2019);‘Child Of Magohalmi and the Echoes of Creation’, Tramway, Glasgow (2019); ‘Child Of Magohalmi and the Echoes of Creation’, Yarat Contemporary Art Space, Baku (2019);‘Soju Sipping on a Sojourn to Saturn’, Galeria Agustina Ferreyra, Mexico City (2018); ‘HOMEBOY 3030: Return the Tiger 2 the Mountain’, Union Pacific, London (2018); ‘The Conch, Sea Urchin and Brass Bell, organised by PS/Y for Hysteria 2017’, Pump House Gallery, London (2017).


Performances include ‘Scorpion’, The National Gallery, London (2021); ‘Dream Dangerous’, Galeria Agustina Ferreyra at Frieze No 9 Cork Street, London (2020); ‘Child of Magohalmi and the Echoes of Creation’, Tramway, Glasgow (2019); ‘Grandmother Mago’, 58th Venice Biennale performance programme, Venice (2019); ‘Flooded with ICE/Hellfire Can't Scorch Me’, Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London (2018); ‘Iridezcent Interludez’, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2018); ‘Perfumed Purple Rice and Sateen Songs for Sadie’, Serpentine Gallery, London (2017); ‘The Sea Child, Octopus and Brass Bell’, Korean Cultural Centre, London (2017); ‘Crash Boom Hisssssss. Legend of the Liquid Sword’, Somerset House Studios, London (2017); ‘Linguistic Legacies and Lunar Exploration’, Serpentine Gallery, London (2016).

Her works have been featured in group exhibitions at Buk-Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul (2024); Copenhagen Contemporary, Copenhagen (2023); Hauser & Wirth Somerset, Bruton (2023); Thaddaeus Ropac, Seoul (2023); Somerset House Studios, London (2022); Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles (2022); Blindspot Gallery, Hong Kong (2022); Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco (2022); ICA, Los Angeles (2022); Deitch Projects, New York City (2022); Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Roma (MACRO), Rome (2022); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2021); 13th Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai (2021); Project Native Informant, London (2021); The Polygon Gallery, Vancouver (2021); Kurimanzutto, Mexico City (2020); Arnolfini, Bristol (2019); MoMA PS1, New York (2018); Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson (2018); L’INCONNUE, Montréal (2018); NTU Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore (2015); Studio Voltaire, London (2015); Museo Maeztu de Estella, Navarra (2010).

Zadie Xa is represented by Thaddaeus Ropac. 

Slide 0 Slide 1 Slide 2 Slide 3 Slide 4 Slide 5 Slide 6 Slide 7 Slide 8 Slide 9 Slide 10 Slide 11