Something in the Air


This artwork is an inflatable model of a stone, engraved with the Tibetan words བསམ་བློའི་མཐོ་ཚད་ཀུན་གྱི་མཆོག (精神高于一切), or“Spirit Above All.” It has been magnified one milliontimes. The original stone was specially produced by a local Marnyi stone artisan for the “SpiritAbove All”series, for which Zhao carved the phrase onto manyrocks of different sizes. As part of the project, in 2016,Zhaounfurled an abstract cloth installation 116 meterstall by 86 meters wide in a mountainous area of Tibet,exposing it to the elementsfor half a year beforepresenting it in Beijing Peoples’ Stadium on 18 May 2018.Using Marnyi stones as inspiration, the artist hasnowcreated his newest artwork, Something in the Air, a “hugebut hollow” inflatable Marnyi stone. Perched betweensky and sea,the air inside seems to be charged with acertain energy. The artwork seems to ask: how does ourknowledge—cultural, political,or religious—influenceour perceptions of art? Details »

12/6/2017 Tibetan artisan Caiga(才嘎) was carving “Spirit Above All” Stones.

About Spirit Above All Stone

“Spirit Above All” Stone is a continuous work that works together with a Tibetan artisan who carves Marnyi Stone. From 2017 onwards, he started to carve the Tibetan sentence “Spirit Above All”(བསམ་བློའི་མཐོ་ཚད་ཀུན་གྱི་མཆོག) onto stones of different sizes in the way that local Marnyi Stones were carved.They will continue to display and spread the sentence in different forms and ways.

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A Painting of Thought I-542, Each 180 x 200 x 8 cm, 4 paintings in total Material: Acrylic on found fabric, 2016 © Zhao Yao

A Painting of Thought I-542 

很有想法的绘画 I-542

A Painting of Thought I-542 is a work that is composed of three paintings. As a further step in the development of A Painting of Thought, brand-new texture and pattern are added into color blocks of high-purity acrylic, which triggers reactions to “the marbled” as a collective aestheticism on different cultural and cognitive levels. The reactions are then taken into the work as a part of the experience. The mass-produced, ready-made fabric and patterns in the same batch but in different colors are used repeatedly in the work, which demonstrates the “systematization” in industrial products that is transformed into an aesthetic move. The pattern of “thinking puzzle” duplicates itself for multiple times on the fabric and is applied to the fabric in the same way. The “undifferentiated” aestheticism presented by the “systematization” of mass production is carried into the experience of the work. The halo of the thick acrylic colors imitates the gloss of the highlight of children’s plastic toys, through which process the gloss of plastic products in the everyday experience of contemporary society is put into the painting and is transcended. A Painting of Thought is both serious and playful.

A Painting of Thought I-542, Each 180 x 200 x 8 cm, 4 paintings in total Material: Acrylic on found fabric, 2016 © Zhao Yao


VICE中国    创想计划   陆冉  


11月23日,我们在青海省玉树藏族自治州囊谦县的一处海拔5000米左右的山坡上看着对面:大约五、六十个藏民和喇嘛正喊着号子,向山顶一点一点搬运一条长长的蓝色画卷。一些小喇嘛先跑到高处,向空中分撒印着经文的“风马”,彩色的纸片在阳光下亮闪闪的,像是白天里的星星。那条画卷看起来真的很沉,经过了大概四、五个小时,才沿着45度的山坡被抬到了计划的位置。但从对面飘来的藏语听起来,人们还是很兴奋。我们的导演和摄影师 Kaiwen 问我,你有没有看过赫尔佐格的《陆上行舟》?我说没有,他说你应该看看,画面太像了。 这是艺术家赵要的项目“精神高于一切”(Spirit above all)。今年9月,他在北京找到一个工厂制作了一个面积接近10000平方米的画卷,一路用卡车运到青海,打算在当地法会期间,像晒佛仪式一样把它从山顶上铺展下来。“晒佛”通常是把巨大的唐卡卷轴从山顶上铺展下来,对藏地居民来说是一件神圣的事情,可是赵要的图案没有任何意义,那只是他从一本益智游戏书本上随意选取的一幅画面。他的解释也有点像开玩笑:这一个毫无意义的东西,在法会现场经过了一百多个仁波切的加持,又在艰苦的环境下经过了一个冬天,它是不是就具有了某种意义? 当天清早,一辆“大力神”卡车装载着作品、赵要、我们和其他几位朋友,沿着峡谷一路颠簸到实施地点。经过“观看”一整天的搬运和铺展,我们就差点因为高原反应和不小心掉进溪水而倒下,至今我也无法想象藏民和喇嘛是如何把这个3吨多重的东西弄到山顶固定好的。而这些困难似乎就是赵要想要的:一定得是巨大的、偏远的,然后人们就会调动自己的经验,赋予这件作品以精神性。他是创造了意义还是消除了意义?这是一个好问题。 Details »


Cosmos Black is Spinning Around 


起始时间:2016.6.5A piece of the “Cosmo Black” square was placed on top of the automatic dual-axis solar tracker. From now on it will look to the dome of the blue sky above, always following the movement of the sun. Cosmo black is Mercedes car standard color 191.


Cosmos Black is Spinning Around © Zhao Yao

Cosmos Black is Spinning Around © Zhao Yao

Cosmos Black is Spinning Around © Zhao Yao

metallic paint, aluminum, dual-axis solar tracker, metal stand
尺寸可变 | size variable


A Sculpture of Thought


A Beautiful Disorder/Jul 3rd – Nov 6th
Similar to the A Painting of Thought series, the work contemplates issues essential to art from a three-dimensional perspective. Therefore A Sculpture of Thought and A Painting of Thought have a parallel relationship. The form of the sculpture also adopts directly from brain-teaser puzzles, everything is ready – images, colours, structure. All kinds of apparent visual elements combined with hidden abstract concepts are of essence to the creation of this piece. Through the manoeuvring of rational experience, texture of the material, visual recognition and all aspects of physical + mental sensations, the work forms a sudden satisfaction in pursuit of meaning. The material PVC plastic is widely used in the manufacturing of children’s slides, and the form of the sculpture is blown to 6 meters tall and placed in the reality of our social environment. The installation method also mimics construction toys, further lightens the sculpture with the plastic shine that’s apparent on actual children’s toys – a divine aura of the sculpture. A playful yet serious way of responding to the daily experience of plastic goods and their sparkles as the highlight of their times. The methods of evaluating / appreciating art elevates the position of gaming, yet at the same time the mundaneness and straightforwardness of gaming from both sensual and logical perspectives re-evaluates our aesthetic habits.

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Painting Of Thought


2015.01.15 – 02.26 | PACE HONG KONG

Written by Zhao Yao

Painting of Thought is a very apt and fitting title for these works. The two books that provided the source images for these paintings say the following on their covers:

  1. A magical book full of challenging wisdom, geniuses around the world are playing 1000 Thinking Games. Why are Japanese people so smart? An American had a sudden realization that thinking is built through play. (A must read for the never-surrendering Chinese. Nanhai Press, 2005.)
  2. Top international thinking games to rapidly unlock your mind’s potential. The 600 thinking games played by all the top students in the world will help you grasp effective methods for enhancing cognitive abilities, heightening powers of observation, analysis, logic, deduction, judgment, imagination, creativity, memory, thinking and action. The more you play, the smarter and more successful you will become. (600 Thinking Games from a century of Harvard students. Huawen Press, 2009.)

From the first painting, Painting of Thought has a sense of mission. How do we look at a painting? How do we understand a painting? How do we create a painting? This series approaches fundamental questions of art from the perspective of painting, particularly abstract painting. Unlike conceptual art in the general sense, this series is not expressing certain criticisms or concepts but instead practicing criticisms or concepts. First, everything here is readymade. Readymade images, readymade colors, readymade fabric, and a readymade understanding of painting. Furthermore, these readymade understandings and concepts of painting are produced by these readymade images, forms and materials. This also includes the understanding and ways of thinking about painting produced by existing art history education and artistic experience. The various visible visual elements and invisible abstract thoughts serve as the fundamental elements of creation, just like the colors and brushstrokes of painting, and they are combined together according to an internal logic and order.

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The Armory Show

纽约军械库艺术博览会 2014

 Private View: Wednesday, 5 March 2014, 2pm to 5pm (by invitation only)
Vernissage: Wednesday, 5 March 2014, 5pm to 8pm (by invitation only)
Public Days: 6-9 March 2014

Zhao Yao’s diverse practice incorporates installation,painting, video, photography, and other media. With a conceptual rigor, wry wit, and critical imperative uncommon for an artist his age, Zhao’s artwork reects on and deconstructs modalities of production and dissemination within contemporary art.

For Armory Focus: China, Beijing Commune will present a set of new works from Zhao’s series “A Painting of Thought”along with a new installation piece The Form of the Ten Thousand Things . “A Painting of Thought” appropriates the visual language of brainteasers to form quasi-modernist painting installations on found fabric. A more direct translation of the series’s title is “Very Clever Painting,”hinting that the artist is not merely interested in the abstract aesthetics of mental puzzles, but also in the individual and cultural constructions of meaning, by both artist and viewer, that mediate the experience of art. The tongue-in-cheek name of the series may refer to the tendency among audiences to “decode” and reduce artworks into packaged, easily digestible messages.

Zhao’s new installation piece The Form of the Ten Thousand Things inspires its title from renowned East Asian art historian Lothar Ledderose’s book Ten Thousand Things. The book describes modular systems of cultural production in ancient China, that is, the production of objects and cultural systems out of standardized parts. For his piece, Zhao takes as his medium die-cutting molds used in printing. The artist is interested in the metaphorical implications of these molds, which embody a peculiar conceptual duality of form and formlessness, abstract concept and physical product.The plating of the metal and imitation monumental appearance of the work imply a sense of reverence, though not without skepticism.

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Great Performance


The 2ndCAFAM Biennale/第二届CAFAM双年展  2014/2/28—4/20

This work is derived from the two media images above. The images are photographed again with the built-in kaleidoscope special effects filter of the Apple iPad camera software, and the new distorted image is printed onto synthetic leather. Elements of revelry, riot, rally, and game convene and constitute this piece. A myriad of relationships involving form and content, image and narrative, as well as image and meaning are present within this performance. By liberating an image from a discourse and reinserting it back into discourse, the multiplicity of visual culture within contemporary society is discussed. “Great Performance” is another focused attempt on the relationship between form and content where content interferes with form and form is used to reflect upon content. Great performances are therefore not a specified narrative response, but rather a humanistic practice with form and content. Details »


“Archipelago” group exhibition


15 September – 6 October 2013

V-Art Center and Art-Ba-Ba Mobile Space is proud to announce “Archipelago”, an group exhibition academic guidanced by Liu Xinghua consisting of six individual artists; He An, Zhao Yao, Ding Li, Zhang Jiebai,Lu Pingyuan and Liao Guohe presenting their newest works at V-Art Center. Archipelago is by definition a cluster or collection of islands. Based partially in Beijing and Shanghai they have come together as a set of islands forming an archipelago for the audience to explore. “Archipelago” is a condition a state of mind, together they share the same values acting as a dispersed force. As with today’s society, where we emphasize individality, separating, sometimes even isolating, ourselves from the idea as an collective. What “Archipelago” is about is that although in the midst of today’s society where an individual may seem as an isolated islands, we’re actually a part of something larger. If we’re willing to step outside our own islands, there’s more to discover in our near surroundings. In a lot of senses we need to take our environment into account. Therefore “Archipelago” is not a theme, there’s no hidden agenda but rather a condition of these five artist’s at the same time refecting today’s society.

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Zhao Yao: I am Your Night


June 12 – August 20, 2011 | Beijing Commune

Beijing Commune is pleased to announce the opening of Zhao Yao’s solo exhibition “I Am Your Night” on June 12, 2011. The show will last until July 31, 2011. The first solo exhibition of Zhao Yao at Beijing Commune, the artist is showing a series of installations and paintings lately produced.

This exhibition differentiates itself from today’s common idea about the exhibition system. Taking the viewers response as a part of his strategy, the artist explores into the forming and communicating of a concept in a seemingly ridiculous way. It can be regarded as a question or the starter of a discussion: in an exhibition system composed of a series of established concepts, does “interpretation” serve, in fact, as an access to the information or the barrier? Details »


I Love Beijing 999

我爱北京 999

November 2008 – December 2009Single channel video

“This is a long-term project full of fun. Starting from the winter of 2008, I went out almost everyday when the sun was out. What I did is to ride in a bus for its whole trip and take snapshots of the sun, placing it right in the center of the frame. After taking hundreds of sun pictures, I displayed them in the speed of 9 frames per second. What you see is me passively chasing the sun. The sun that’s always in the center of the image echoed with the capital city—the sun in Chinese people’s mind. The whole project was completed in November 2009, by then I had gone through nine-hundred and ninety-nine bus lines in Beijing.”

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