Zhao Gang 
1961 - 
China
As a teenager, Zhao Gang was the youngest member of the Stars, who in 1979 staged an influential if unsuccessful protest against Party control of art. He later studied in Europe and the United States and became an American citizen. Art writer Philip Tinari, who knows him well, says he is “among the only members of his generation who truly understands both East and West … who really speaks native Chinese and native English.” But he retains his rebellious side. Fellow artists call him “Gangsta Zhao”; he himself says he’s a “petit bourgeois” now, though he still has “a lot of things I want to get out”. He often draws on historical paintings and photos, which he recreates in modernist style, often with a provocative twist. Untitled (2006) harks back to Bamboos in the Wind, by Xu Beihong, one of China’s first socialist-realist painters and a pillar of the Party. As head of the All-China Art Workers’ Association, he once wielded immense power over other artists. In Zhao Gang’s hands, Xu Beihong’s stalks of bamboo morph into smoking chimneys that might equally be burning paintbrushes—a boldly decorative comment on both China’s industrialising present and its repressive past.
BIOGRAPHY | CV
WORKS
Perfect World
Imperial Collection No.6
Imperial Collection No.7
Imperial Collection No.8
Imperial Collection No.13
Imperial Collection No.14