With the rapid economic progress for the past twenty years in China, Chinese Avant-garde artists have accomplished great commercial success. And, the next-generation artists born in 70s and 80s have been forming contemporary art scenes in China, which are more varied and free than before.
The conceptual videos and large-scale installation are in fashion among young artists, which coercively depict China’s characteristic, large scale. Many group exhibitions featuring Chinese contemporary artists in renowned venues such as Guggenheim and Centre Pompidou not only include Avant-garde artists but also very young artists born in 90s.
Zhao Yiqian was born in 1982 in Shenyang and graduated from the Department of Lithography at Central Academy of Arts, the best art school in China. His hometown, Shenyang, in 80s was under the development as an industrial complex and the artist grew up in town confronting both farmers and factory workers and developed an ambivalent sense about industrialization.
Zhao Yiqian felt empty in heard witnessing industrial society rapidly developing into the newer society with high technology, the Internet, and digital products and threw himself into the return back to and the study of the essence of painting. The artist who liked classics and humanities since youth, found it easier to interact with friends who went abroad to Europe, when the nation gradually entered an age of materialism.
Zhao especially attempted to lay the purity of painting in a new mode by neo-classically reinterpreting the resurrection of classicism during the Renaissance, rediscovery of nature, and individual creativity based on his own experiences, and research on post-humanism.
He attempted to find the essence of painting by combining the spirit of classicism with the icons of contemporary society and thus brought about minimalist painting with his novel concept.
Humanism or the human aspects such as sensibility, emotion, and creativity are the key issues in today’s society where A.I. is replacing human beings. For him, it is the artist’s role to try to return back to the age of classicism and recreate arts to reflect it through the mind of a young man. So the artist re-explores the importance of painting by thinking over and over the humanistic conceptions from the classics to the modern and spiritual issues embedded between two eras.
Zhao seeks to create the new, utopian beauty and find his own identity by succeeding the perspective of artists during the Renaissance who were proficient at many fields including architecture, painting, sculpture, design, and philosophy.
Completing the series after a few years of exploration into humanism and spatiotemporal themes, Zhao Yiqian successfully finished off his solo exhibition ‘Déjà vu’ at Today Art Museum in 2015 and again buried himself into the study of the essence of painting that the artist has been longed for.
Immersed in the classical paintings of the East and the West since 2016, the artist felt sad about the classic architecture and culture of the East that were destroyed compared to the well-preserved ones of the West. China especially went through the cut-off and destruction of its culture after the Cultural Revolution. People living busily within today’s society do not necessarily try to remember the past but for the artist who wanted to give a new try to his painting with humanistic and philosophical perspectives, the classic modes of painting and architecture of the West became an important motif.
As the mother nature that stays the same after a number of years, the viewers may experience the time of precedents who were ahead of us by thousands of years through the cultural and architectural traces they left off. The artist believes that the value of art lies on it and that is the essence of painting where humans merely exist as signs within the passing time of history and culture.