Zhao Yao’s work inhabits the dichotomies of ancient and modern that has disrupted Chinese life since the Cultural Revolution. With a background in graphic design, his work seems part of a Western abstract tradition but also freighted with symbolism: the use of denim, a material idealized for proletariat durability in the West, is a reminder of 1980’s Chinese fashion; seemingly enigmatic geometric patterns are derived from brain–teaser puzzles. Works are given social and spiritual resonance too, for example, by taking them on an arduous journey to a Tibetan monastery to be blessed by a ‘living Buddha’ before they are presented in a Gallery. Zhao’s exhibitions includeWhitechapel Gallery, London, Pace Gallery, Hong Kong, Pace, London, Sichuan Fine Art Institute, Chongqing, China, Beijing Commune, and Taikang Space, Beijing.
Courtesy of Whitechapel Gallery