Tao Hui by Mark Poucher. Courtesy of Esther Schipper, Berlin.
Tao Hui remembers a childhood when he experienced much of the world through a television set. It’s a perspective that underlies his video work, where realities and fictions commingle, and identities and interactions are performed. In stilted, melodramatic scenes brought to life by actors, Tao creates fragments of narratives that hold a flame to our media-saturated world. In Joint Images (2016), a man and woman engage in hammy dialogue while a soap opera on the television behind them mirrors their scripted conversation. In Double Talk (2018), the ghost of a K-pop star reflects upon his life and legacy while a classroom of children watch through a screen.
“Tao Hui’s work is remarkable for its ability to capture the latent tensions of contemporary Chinese society in a range of registers that draw on the conventions of fiction, theater, television, and documentary,” said Philip Tinari, director of Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, where the artist had a solo show in 2015. “While forms and characters vary, a plangent, infectious sense of wonder pervades,” Tinari continued.
The rest of the world is taking notice. In 2018, Tao had solo shows at The Breeder in Athens and Chi-Wen Gallery in Taipei. This year, he is shortlisted for Hong Kong institution M+’s inaugural Sigg Prize; had a solo show at Edouard Malingue Gallery; and was picked up by Berlin gallery Esther Schipper, placing him alongside an impressive roster of international artists. Tao also shows with the Shanghai gallery Aike.