About the Artist

Photo of artist Bonnie Zhou

Hi, I'm Bonnie!

I am a painter and dancer based in Toronto, Canada and Brooklyn, New York. I create bold and whimsical figure paintings exploring freedom, sensuality, and release.

In my art I hold space for the chaotic, the provocative, the imperfect; all things I was told not to be as a woman and child of immigrants. Portraying the beauty in diverse bodies of all shapes, sizes and colours is extremely important to me, especially in an art world that repeatedly centers the white and thin.

My art represents the kind of world I want to live in, where traditional rules are broken and creativity is untethered — I hope you'll join me.

Bonnie sitting by one of her paintings

Behind the art

It's widely accepted that our experiences shape our minds, but I believe they also shape our bodies. The human body is a collection of invisible chaos and provocative emotions borne from our life’s joy, pain, freedom, fear, and every feeling in between. In my art, I hold space for those emotions that we often try to shun or hide — particularly for those of us who have been historically marginalized, our bodies oppressed and emotions suppressed through generations. My art gives permission to break free of “rules” and open the floodgates into a world of release through portrayal of the figure.

My paintings and drawings are an extension of my spiritual explorations through my own body as a dancer. I capture subtleties communicated in the form, lines, stance, and movement of the human body. The colours, composition, and brush strokes are an interpretation of beats and melodies moving through the body, and emerge as a dance with the canvas.

Bonnie in the middle of painting

My story

Since childhood I've been expected to follow a set path in life, with my achievements measured against someone else's idea of perfection. My creativity was stifled in favour of a "stable" corporate career. I was a wild child who was constantly told to shut up and sit down, feeling as if somehow I was always simulatenously too much AND not enough.

I spent the first 6 years after university as a software engineer in big tech before burning out due to years of masking and conforming to a rigid, male-dominated environment. Drawing and painting became a way to beautify my world and fill it with raw, thoughtful, provocative images that didn't fit into my corporate life. My art reflects my dream for a more embodied, intuitive, expressive world, and I hope it will empower others walking their own path to inner freedom.

Bonnie standing and smiling in front of her paintings

Fun facts

I'm a Scorpio sun/Leo moon/Pisces rising 💫

I was diagnosed with ADHD at age 28. It was a hugeeeee relief to understand how my brain works, and I unapologetically own my neurodivergence.

I've been pole dancing since 2015, and my specialty is in "low flow" and fluidity. Naturally, I detest rules and freestyle all of my performances.

I'm Chinese-Canadian and like many third-culture kids, I'm on a journey in reclaiming my culture. I speak Cantonese fluently!

I love fruits!! My favourites are durian, banana, mango, and dates.

Fuck, marry, kill: rice, bread, noodles. My answer: marry rice ❤️ fuck bread 💋 kill noodles 🔪