A unique solo exhibition with a split personality

Wang Jie
Zhao Gang's solo exhibition "Domestic Anxiety" is running at the Long Museum West Bund through July 18. 
Wang Jie

When an artist is tormented by depression and anxiety, painting might be one of the best emotional releases.

Zhao Gang’s solo exhibition “Domestic Anxiety” is running at the Long Museum West Bund through July 18. The exhibition features several massive and medium-scale still-lifes created by the artist in the past two years, a series of medium-scale abstract paintings, as well as a large narrative painting created in 2017.

Curated by Lu Mingjun, the exhibition juxtaposes Zhao’s abstract paintings with his still-lifes.

“The former concerns forms, originating from texts; the latter imagery — a corner of kitchen or a dining room. If abstract art is his spiritual practice, still-lifes demonstrate his mundane operations. Both are inspired by his personal experiences, but their inherent differences signal his split personality and unconscious anxiety,” Lu said.

Born in 1961 and raised in Beijing, Zhao was once the youngest member of the Stars Art Group, engaging with Beijing’s underground art scene during the late 1970s.

In 1983, he left China to study in Europe and the Unites States. After living in New York for 23 years and mingling in local art scene, Zhao returned to China in 2006. Since then, he has regularly held exhibitions in Europe and the United States.

As one of a few artists navigating the two different painting contexts in China and the West, he has experimented with landscapes, abstraction, history, portraits, figures, still-lifes, and other classic painting genres and themes.

In 2019, starting from a huge figure painting, Zhao created a series of abstract paintings. Now, through his recent massive-scale still-lifes and medium-sized abstract paintings, Zhao again calls for the abstract, establishing a new visual narrative within the widening void of incongruity between the concrete and the abstract.

The largest painting, “Bloody Romance” (2021), measuring 8 meters by 4 meters appears to be comprised of flesh and flower from a distance. But as one approaches to within an arm’s length, that is, the contours of the objects fade; one is left facing abstract colors and lines wherein the artist’s deep emotions are curdling, throbbing and erupting.

A unique solo exhibition with a split personality
Courtesy of Zhao Gang and Long March Space

Zhao Gang’s “Brotherhood” (2021), oil on canvas

Exhibition info

Dates: Through July 18 (closed on Mondays), 10am-5:30pm
Venue: Long Museum West Bund
Address: 3398 Longteng Avenue

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