Zhong Biao - Contemporary Art Day Sale London Friday, October 17, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private collection, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    More than anything, my art is an art which searches for order….I search for the order that belongs to the era of today, taking coincidence as a theory of methodology that can explain its everyday connection with the omnipresent

    Born in 1968 in Chongqing, Zhong Biao studied at the Zhejiang Fine Arts Academy. He is now a professor at the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts. His painting has won international acclaim for its avant-garde, almost proto-surrealist style.

    Like many of his fellow artists working in mainland China today, Zhong Biao’s work is an investigation into the identity of a nation.  Focusing his work on the country’s rapidly advancing transformation—whether it be economic, emotional, cultural or political—Zhong Biao has acutely caught the extreme nature of the contemporary moment. His paintings are primarily works of cultural juxtaposition. Combining images and figures from different times and spaces, he seeks to unearth the nation’s ‘visual archeology’ whereby he ‘cuts a section from the visual symbols people are familiar with, then takes out those fragmented symbols from the cultural deposits of different times, and lastly arranges and combines them in a unique way,’ as Pi Li notes. To him, these various images are the physical memories of a culture, and by juxtaposing a qinghua vase with a Boeing aircraft, he creates paintings that reflect the chaotic and disjointed nature of the world around us.

    As Pi Li notes, Zhong Biao’s work has undergone its own transformation over the last decade. While his earlier works are characterized by the juxtaposition of cultural images, the current trend is towards using colour dimensionality against time direction. Depicting the aged images in bold bright colours with those of modern life painted in greys and blacks emphasize the disjuncture between the two worlds. Depicting the living individual in monotone greys, whilst their clothes are given vivid colour, also underlines the artist’s belief that it is the symbols, rather than the people, of an age who have the most lasting effect on the cultural and historic moment.

    Zhong Biao’s work is a type of self-exploration into his own questions about history and modernity.  Painting within a culture that is besieged by consumerism, he looks back to traditions which many now consider outdated and conservative and attempts to resurrect their importance in the eyes of his contemporaries and emphasize their continued importance in China’s cultural identity.


Why the Tears?

Work in two parts: oil on canvas. 
Each 200 x 149.9 cm. (78 3/4 x 59 in).
Signed, titled and dated 'Zhong Biao Why the Tears? 2007' on the reverse of each. 

£40,000 - 60,000 

Contemporary Art Day Sale

18 Oct 2008 2pm