Past Exhibitions

Zhao Zhao: A Long Moment


Artist Zhao Zhao
Curator Cui Cancan
From March 17th to June 30th, 2024, Long Museum (Chongqing) presents the exhibition of Zhao Zhao, curated by Cui Cancan. Compared to most artists, Zhao Zhao stands out with his distinctive artistic language and worldview. He employs an extraordinarily diverse range of media, encompassing paintings, installations,   videos,  performances, photography, and extensive  archives. His vision and themes are remarkably expansive, exploring the unfolding realities of the present alongside ancient history. He meticulously studies and reveals artifacts, utilizing materials from modern industrial civilization and technology. Additionally, his work delves into the nuanced exploration of self-awareness and perception. Zhao Zhao's narratives are captivatingly diverse, utilizing linear historical accounts to interwoven explorations of past and present. He contrasts parallel timelines, juxtaposes similar themes, and employs polyphonic dialogues within his work. This dislocated sense of time and space grants his creations a unique charm, while the multiplicity of styles themselves have become his most recognizable artistic signature.

Zhao Zhao's life echoes his art. Born in the 1980s in Shihezi City, a place where ancient stones whisper of history predating humanity, he came of age in the 1990s within the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. There, he participated in the obligatory labor of cotton picking, vast white fields stretching towards the horizon – a landscape pregnant with a distant past. Near his hometown lie the remnants of human civilization: the otherworldly Yardang landforms, the ancient ruins of Jiaohe, and the Kizil grottoes adorned with Buddhist art. Toyota trucks now dot these once-untouched deserts, existing alongside the desolate Gobi and the vast, star-strewn sky. These contrasting elements shaped Zhao Zhao's early understanding of time, space, and human history.

In the decades since arriving in Beijing, Zhao Zhao has cultivated a flourishing courtyard on the city's fringe. Within this haven, he delves into the history of ancient jade bi and cong discs, studies bronzes spanning the Shang to Tang dynasties, and meticulously compiles a comprehensive collection of the Song dynasty’s Jian ware. The sliver of sky and wispy clouds framing the courtyard not only evoke memories of his travels – from Berlin to Shanghai, New York to Beijing – but also symbolize a confined space. This juxtaposition of controlled nature within the garden walls and the untamed wilderness beyond creates a powerful tension for the artist.

These "objects" now find their echoes within his work, transforming into a unique lens through which he views the world. They become encoded within his artistic self-portraits, a crystallization of his life, his present reality, and the inevitable mingling of chance and circumstance amidst the dramatic social transformations of the past century. The works themselves are like enigmatic fragments, remnants of different civilizations across millennia caught between inheritance and rejection. Reimagined and arranged anew, they coalesce into a vast, philosophical narrative that resonates deeply despite its complexity.

Profoundly aware of the ever-shifting and incomplete nature of our world, Zhao Zhao recognizes the inherent fragmentation and ambiguity of the individual's spiritual landscape. The influx of diverse systems, multifaceted standards, and contrasting values has significantly disrupted our established artistic and traditional norms. To truly capture the contemporary cultural experience, an artist must embark on a multifaceted exploration across various domains. He must function as a perpetual outsider, navigating the complexities of a pluralistic world. By delving beneath the surface of historical transformations, traversing the divide between the enduring and the fleeting, the certain and the uncertain, the artist serves to illuminate the true essence of our world.

Curator: Cui Cancan
March 7, 2024
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