Zhang Peili was born in 1957 in Hangzhou, China. He graduated from the National Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou in 1984 with a degree in oil painting. In the 1980s, he was a founding member of the artists' collective “Pond Society,” and acted as a cornerstone of the avant-garde movement in Hangzhou.
Considered the father of video art in China because of his groundbreaking work in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he is currently the dean of the New Media Department of the China Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou. In the first years of this century, he devoted much of his attentions to art education in China, and counts numerous important video, photography, and new media artists among his former students. In the past several years he has returned to a more intensive artistic practice.
His earlier works experimented with an aesthetics of boredom and have treated themes of social and political control. Zhang Peili’s work is always implicitly political, and he is infamous for his incisive use of irony that maintains a consistently mocking tone without descending into satire. His more recent work interrogates viewing conventions, perceptions of time, and notions of progress through the remixing and editing of found footage; it also challenges the boundaries of media art, having focused on complex video installations for the past ten years.