Zhong Biao is in Venice

Recently received the following announcement from Zhong Biao:




The curator is Xu Gang 徐钢. He’s a new figure in the Zhong Biao pantheon, near as I can tell, and professor of Chinese literature at University of Illinois.The principal sponsors are Today 今日 and Winshare 文轩美术馆 galleries, the latter of which being an appendage of Xinhua media group.

The concept is a reprisal of previous work by Zhong, who has not been inclined to change his approach much since I’ve begun following him in 2005. His artistic ideas, in other words, are repetitive, if also impressive, a curious blend. In this case, an even more simple dichotomy is at work than the one’s he’s used before, namely Reality/Fantasy, or more properly, the “unstable relationship between the two.”  A cosmic element is also there, as the relationship is explored (exhibited) within “the primordial mass of the universe” 在混沌宇宙, and I wonder how the cosmic plays, through painting, other installation and video screens, within a Venetian church. Exhibiting Zhong’s work in refurbished urban warehouses, or sparkling new annexes of modern museums (the last two shows I’ve seen) seem to offer more congruency than 17th century Italian architecture. But this is difficult to say from afar. Sure do wish I was there….




Choking on beauty


Arriving in Beijing at pinnacle of worst air ever (technical term: “beyond index”) a while back I must confess it never occurred to me that a wholly different “view” was right in front of my eyes (they were in fact largely closed because it hurt to have them open):


Of course, I’m not responsible for them. These are from Zhong Biao’s microblog. Source of all that’s good.


Zhong Biao (for those who read Chinese)

At long last finding Zhong’s “Official” website.

I note as well that under “critics” tab at left appears, among 20 others or so, my article

But the real treat on the site are the various “view points” that are included (4, to be precise). These do get across Zhong’s mode of thinking in a manner entirely suitable to his pace, namely online, “clickable.” 3 of the 4 are only in Chinese, and I’ll endeavor to do some translation in near future. Meantime, the first still fully indicative:


I have only one dream, that the people under my brush might take this world of confusion and in years to come look out at the people of the future on my behalf.

last words, an image by Zhong Biao

As part of a back-to-school ritual (belated, as usual) I’m sorting through papers in the house,  most of which being the scribblings/paintings of two small children, and I find the following image:

And while my daughters clearly have nearly superhuman artistic talent, I’m guessing neither of them is responsible for this picture, particularly given Zhong’s signature upper left.  Thus, we find ourselves proud owners (at long last!) of a Zhong Biao original, watercolor on paper, 8 1/2 x 11 inches.  I guess that’s “merry christmas.”

addendum (2/29):
just found this video

Zhong Biao’s recent work

new works coming out of the Zhong Biao Studio, an increasingly impressive operation that includes a number of capable assistants, including recently graduated (from Sichuan Academy of Art, where Zhong teaches) 张晨, about whom there will be more to say later on I hope.

I understand that Zhong is casting about for new approaches, but for the moment he is responding to very real pressures to produce work for a string of exhibitions, including his most recent US show in May at Frey Norris followed in September by a more major exhibition in Seoul.  I find indeed a certain flagging of energy in some of his works, where the formerly rather pure juxtapositions of concrete-isms (in fact, sometimes just concrete) were enough to set in motion ruminations old, new, near far and seemingly everywhere in-between.  Since his forays into abstraction have become mainstays of his work, a certain leveling off of the edges of significance come into effect, a flattening onto too two-dimensional space.

Then again, there are those images which achieve something close to total vindication of his current approach, and they’re not that uncommon.  Why an old man in blue pants with white hair and a cup of coffee setting off a cacophony framed in red seems to ‘say it all’ (to me anyway) I don’t know, but it does. And though something powerful sits with the old man hunched forward on his recliner, it is so much more as it grows up the canvas.

距离 Removed 200 x 150

and just for good measure (and because its a nice photo), the artist with the painting:

And though the following is not a good image (of much lesser resolution and therefore not of its greatest impact here), I think this perhaps an achievement in the realm of connecting his abstraction with an acutely rendered object, again the recliner (what is it about that chair?)





The first painting is called “distance,” the second “yearning” 思念 , and both are evidence that there’s still some mileage yet in his approach.  How much mileage will depend on how long he can go on producing, under considerable time pressure, images like these.