Beijing Commune is delighted to announce the opening, on 3 November 2018, of Zhao Yao's newest exhibition: Signals from Heaven, Signals from Heaven. This is Zhao Yao's fourth exhibition at Beijing Commune, where it will be on display until 25 December.
The works presented in this exhibition constitute a whole new development for the artist, following his project The Spirit Above All (2016–2018). Taking personal and social experience as his starting point, Zhao Yao pursues his questioning on the topic of universal questions and spiritual matters.
Zhao Yao's work has always focused on the psychological complexes and rational consciousness within various social backgrounds and in different cultures. His installations, paintings, and video works rely notably on such fundamental elements as the perception of forms, or the tactile sense, in order to represent people's understanding of art, and experiential cognition.
In the present exhibition, the artist displays nine 'spiritual,' box-like little cabins that he brought back from Nangqian and Ganzi, Qinghai province. Having remained for extended periods of time in the middle of the natural environment, these 'boxed spaces' created for functional purposes have acquired rich traces of their exposure to the elements. Every year, for a hundred days after the end of October, many monks and villagers of Nangqian and Ganzi individually build such small wooden huts that can only accommodate one person, and use them as implements for their individual search of spiritual enlightenment. ZhaoYao brought these very simple cabins into the exhibition room, and while trying to preserve their original state as much as possible, he embedded in each of them a personal account of the collective concerns of mankind. Thereby, the exhibition room is turned into a meditative space, inviting visitors to reflect together, and to enjoy their reflection. Various kinds of understanding and visualisations of art, society, and collective self-understanding, are thus blended together, and every person is allowed to simultaneously conduct their own investigations on issues of 'spirituality' and 'worship.'
The stories presented in each cabin are extracted from online TED talks dating from 2006 to nowadays, which have been stripped of their images and soundtrack. The original videos were translated into many languages, and viewed hundreds of millions of times. In a calm and detached way, the artist has turned these talks into very personal monologues. Their contents revolve around themes of war, the self, education, identity, race, the sense of ceremony, and other issues that confront mankind in its entirety. As these self-presentations, rooted in individual experience, undergo a process of artistic editing, they come to form a new text and to constitute a new collectiveness in the exhibition hall. Meanwhile, the trademark colours of the Google logo that appear in the background of each video, referring to our most familiar ways of obtaining information nowadays, render the entire installation more open-ended as regards the very notions of information and intrinsic meaning it presents.
Zhao Yao was born in Sichuan province in 1981. He graduated from Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in 2004, and currently lives and works in Beijing. Since 2005, Zhao Yao has been drawing increasing attention in China's contemporary art scene. His solo shows include The Last Egg at Beijing Commune (Beijing, 2016), Painting of Thought at Pace Gallery (Hong Kong, 2015); Spirit Above All at Pace Gallery (London, 2013) ;You Can't See Me, You Can't See Me at Beijing Commune (Beijing, 2012); Zhao Yao: I Am Your Night at Beijing Commune (Beijing, 2011) and 51m : 3# Zhao Yao at Taikang Space (Beijing, 2010). His works have also been exhibited at various museums and institutes including UCCA, OCAT Xi'an, OCAT Shanghai, Mingsheng Art Museum, Sifang Art Museum, Cass Sculpture Foundation, San Francisco Asian Art Museum, the Whitechapel Gallery, Palais de Tokyo, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, CAFA Art Museum, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, ZKM, Pinchuk Art Centre, Eliand Edythe Broad Art Museum, Rubell Family Collection, Fremantle Arts Centre, and Tate Modern (London, 2010), etc.
Press release courtesy Beijing Commune.