Curated by Cui Cancan, the exhibition focuses on Zhao Zhao's most important works within past few years, including painting, sculpture, installation, and other objects. This is Zhao Zhao’s first large scale solo exhibition in Shanghai.
The earliest piece among showcasing works came from the Jurassic period, which is 100 million years ago; followed up by stone plow from the Neolithic period – one of the first tool of production; later, came the pre-dynastic jade discs, Sui and Tang dynasty sculptures, Song dynasty porcelain, late Qing dynasty peaches of longevity, and modern screws and earphones. In the space, viewers will also find the sky over New York, texts from western China, Tibetan ladders to heaven, the constellations over Beijing, and the solid asphalt roads and soft cotton that can be found the world over.
Zhao Zhao, unlike many other artists, has brought together in his works different vocabularies that come from disparate times and places. As an important figure in the new generation of artists, he has crossed time and space to connect history with new trends in our current reality. He has broken barriers that are otherwise difficult to overcome, using them in contemporary art to create a distinctive artistic style and way of working.
This exhibition is focused on Zhao Zhao’s recent works and presents a few dozen of the most important pieces. The exhibition connects his Green, White, and Pink series from different periods, and integrates his Western Trilogy with streetwear projects developed in different cities to tell a new story under the exhibition title “Zhao Zhao”.
The story begins with Constellations, a portrait of time and space. These glittering stars permeate all of the works in the exhibition. Here, the past, present, and metaphor transmitted through time and space become art forms that are continuously developed.
Three cases display the inspirations and sources for Zhao Zhao’s works, as well as art and objects from different historical periods, which become a way for us to view the development of the artist’s ideas. Self-portraiture alludes to the beginning of this journey, with a Longshan jade cong vessel, an arm covered in totemic symbols, a line painted in a second, the impact of a car accident, a teacup that Emperor Huizong favored, and the dream of transforming into an immortal. The ladders to heaven nearby shift the historical perspective toward ancient Tibetan views on life and death. We must ask ourselves how faith can liberate earthly dreams.
While traveling, Zhao Zhao painted the sky in different cities. The realities under this sky are very different. Following the rise of industrialized cotton and the various changes that the industry has undergone, that story has been washed away, leaving behind a vast white landscape. After the cotton has been burned, black shapes are left behind, specifically monumental squares and circles. The power of the light spreading cotton was like a black hole in the universe, constantly emitting new energy.
In Extremis finishes the story at the end of the exhibition. The hazy and solemn pieces of copper are like a Mass, transforming the past of his previous work into indistinct forms and pushing the few symbolic words toward a broader past and present.
Zhao Zhao’s work is like the fossil encapsulating microorganisms and a chance drop of amber, or the secret combination of art and history. When we think of it, it’s like a shining moon amidst the stars.
About the Artist
Zhao Zhao was born in 1982 in Xinjiang, China, and he currently lives and works in Beijing and Los Angeles. In his art, he engages with real subjects in multiple mediums and plays with art forms, emphasizing an exploration of the relationship between the individual and the rest of society. His works are developed around the subtle emotional changes that take place as we are confronted with diverse cultural influences. He brings together the expressive methods of contemporary art and traditional culture to create metaphors for people’s living circumstances and modern society’s real conditions in a globalized world. His works also reflect his attitudes toward the coexistence of collective and individual ideals.
In recent years, Zhao Zhao’s bold, radical artistic practice has attracted international attention. He has presented solo exhibitions and personal projects at the Long Museum (Shanghai), Carl Kostyál (Stockholm), Song Art Museum (Beijing), Nanchizi Museum (Beijing), Alexander Ochs Gallery (Berlin), Roberts & Tilton (Los Angeles), Chambers Gallery (New York), Mizuma and One Gallery (Beijing), Lin & Lin Gallery (Taipei), Tang Contemporary Art (Hong Kong), Tang Contemporary Art (Beijing), China Art Archives and Warehouse (Beijing), and Fusion Art Center (Beijing). His work has been shown in group exhibitions and collected by many institutions, including MoMA PS1 (New York), the Tampa Museum of Art (Tampa), Pinchuk Art Center (Kiev), Groninger Museum (Groningen), the Museum of Asian Art (Berlin), Hamburger Bahnhof Museum for Contemporary Art (Berlin), Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (Milan), MAXXI National Museum of 21st Century Art (Rome), the DSL Collection (Paris), Castellón Contemporary Art Space (Castellón), the White Rabbit Gallery (Sydney), M+ (Hong Kong), the Minsheng Art Museum (Beijing), the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (Beijing), the New Century Art Foundation (Beijing), Taikang Space (Beijing), Luxelakes · A4 Art Museum (Chengdu), Minsheng Art Museum (Shanghai), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Shanghai), Start Museum (Shanghai), Ming Contemporary Art Museum (Shanghai), Tianjin Art Museum (Tianjin), the Hubei Museum of Art (Wuhan), the He Xiangning Art Museum (Shenzhen), Wanlin Art Museum at Wuhan University (Wuhan), the Wuzhen Contemporary Art Exhibition 2019 (Wuzhen), and the Yokohama Triennale (Yokohama).
In 2019, Zhao Zhao won the Artist of the Year Award at the Thirteenth Award of Art China (AAC). In 2017, his piece Project Taklamakan was selected as the poster and catalog cover image for the Yokohama Triennale. That same year, Zhao Zhao was named one of China’s top 10 artists by CoBo and he won the Young Artist of the Year Nomination Award at the Eleventh Award of Art China (AAC). In 2014, Modern Painters named Zhao Zhao one of the world’s top 25 artists.
About the Curator
Cui Cancan is an active Chinese independent curator and critic. Since 2012, he has curated almost 100 major exhibitions, including group exhibitions like Hei Qiao Night Way (2013), Rural Wash, Cut and Blow-dry (2013), FUCKOFF II (2013), Unlived by What is Seen (2014), Between the 5th and 6th Ring Road in Beijing (2015), The Decameron (2016), Rip it Up (2017), Spring Festival Projects (2018) , The Curation Workshop (2019), Nine-Tiered (2020), The Methodology of the New Generation, et cetera. He has curated artists’ solo exhibitions such as Ai Weiwei, Bao Xiaowei, Chen Danqing, Chen Yufan, Chen Yujun, Feng Lin, Han Dong, He Yunchang, Huang Yishan, Jiang Bo, Li Binyuan, Liu Wei, Liu Gangshun, Liu Jianhua, Li Qing, Li Ji, Li Zhanyang, Ding Muer, Ma Ke, Mao Yan, Qin Ga, Qin Qi, Sui Jianguo, Shijiezi Art Museum, Shi Jinsong, Shen Shaomin, Tan Ping, Wang Qingsong, Xie Nanxing, Xia Xiaowan, Xia Xing, Xiao Yu, Xu Zhongmin, Xu Xiaoguo, Zong Ning, Polit-Sheer-Form, Zhang Yue, Zhang Yonghe, Zhao Zhao, et cetera.