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Yiqi Zhang

Yiqi Zhang (she, her) is a visual storyteller who tiptoes along the spectrum of history, kitsch and cultural identities. Having completed her BA in Art History at Tsinghua University in China, she investigates the boundary of illustration at RCA as an extension for her visual research. 

With special interest in the tension between text, image and narrative framework, Yiqi draws to speculate, question and participate. 

Her works were included at P.3-P.117, Tenderbooks (2019), The Creative Space Autumn Exhibition, Arlington House (2019), Archive(r)s, Tate Britain (2019), Work-in-Progress Show, Royal College of Art (2020) in London, and Open Studio SVA Summer Illustration Residency (2019) in New York.   



INSTAGRAM - @yiqizzzzzzz

Degree Details

School of Communication


01/ ‘And your warning came from China?’

02/ ‘China today is not the China of ’98.’

03/ ‘Heaven knows what lurks there!’

04/ ‘It loaded the air like some evil perfume.’

05/ ‘Should you expect to find that animal in Europe?’

06/ ‘No, it isn’t a European variety.’

07/ ‘Nature is upsetting her own laws—as we know them.’

08/ ‘Liberties be damed, Sir!’

09/ ‘We shall never excel at this business,’

10/ ‘We are far too sentimental!’

11/ ‘I owned her your life—’

12/ ‘I have to square the account.’

Between the Orient and the Occident, the yellowmen are silenced.
They are projected onto numerous stories, images, and screens, yet the ghosts remain.
By bringing them to my drawings, I aim not to spoil the spell.
Not for today.
It is a retelling of a tale of hundreds of years old,
a song of fear, dilemma and puzzle,
an action of impulse and mediation.
Let's just look -- The truth, I guess,
lies in the shadow of the face of the yellowmen.


colour pencil, marker pen


16.5 cm x 9.5 cm
Chinese identitydrawinghistorical examinationillustrationmass cultureNarration / StorytellingNarrativePost ColonialismPost-Colonialracismvisual researchyellow peril

01/ ‘I say, do be careful with that sword!’

02/ ‘He might be less of a nuisance if we let him in.’

03/ ‘Honourable conference is too kind to contemptible worm.’

04/ ‘Don't look at me like that;’

05/ ‘I’m here, of course, solely for our mutual benefit.’

06/ ‘No cheating this time!’

07/ ‘Give it to him well, Pam, while you are about it!’

08/ ‘I just don't think it's the sort of world to bring up pandas in.’

09/ ‘The higher I rise the darker it seems to get.’

10/ ‘Hurry up to my conference, you two!’ ‘All right, we're coming;’

11/ ‘just let me give his tail another bite -‘

12/ ‘- to save my face!’

The winner writes the history, maps out the world, and draws the lines.
The line of noble and clown, angle and demon, human and beast.
Images seldom speak. Instead, they reflect our voices, like a valley.
Stroll in the bottom of this valley;
watch the opium grows.
Those faces are still shouting;
the fighters never tire;
the drawers never rest.


marker pen


10.5 cm * 7.8 cm

01/ We Lost Cuz We Were Ugly Archiver(s) Research Work-in-Progress Review — Tate Archive, 2019

02/ 'Triple Tale of John Chinaman', Archiver(s) Research Final Work — Redrawing of illustrations from Punch Magazine Archive that date respectively date to the 18th, 19th and 20th century. Now documented at Tate Archive.

03/ ‘What Are We Talking About When We Talk About the Opium Wars’ — Key codes about the first head-on collision between the British Empire and the Qing dynasty of China in the mid of the 18th century.

04/ ‘Treaty of Nanking (1842)’ — Redrawing of historical photographs of the signing of Anglo-Chinese treaty, after the loss of the First Opium War on China's side, which led to the colonisation of Hong Kong.

05/ ‘Treaty of Tientsin (1858)’ — Redrawing of historical photographs involving the treaty beChina, Britain, France, Russia and the US, at the end of the first phase of the Second Opium War.

06/ ‘Convention of Peking (1860)’ — Redrawing of historical photographs featuring China, Britain and other western powers, after the defeat of China in the Second Opium War.

07/ ‘Hold on, John!’ — Redrawing of illustrations found at Punch Magazine Archive, to re-present the visual comments on the Anglo-Chinese relationship by the mainstream British media in the 18th and the 19th centuries.

08/ ‘Brilliant Illumination & He Knew the Game’

09/ ‘A Lesson to the Chinaman’

10/ ‘The Great Chinese Warriors’

11/ ‘The Opium Wars Screenshot I’, — Redrawing of illustrations in present Chinese textbooks, to visualise the historical narration from a 21st century Chinese perspective.

12/ ‘The Opium Wars Screenshot II’

The act of redrawing is like a snake.
Coiling itself around the facts and the happenings,
it hisses at what is not yet imagined.
Be careful, once it glides through the ice of memory,
as the process is so smooth that,
generations like us,
might miss its trace.


marker pen


21.0 x 29.7cm

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