Zhao Dajun: Red Lines on the Blue
2022.06.12 - 2022.07.16
Artists: Zhao Dajun

Red Lines on the Blue

Curator: Su Wei


It is not easy to read the paintings of Zhao Dajun (1937-), whose painting practice does not seem to find itself in any existing frame of reference. This pioneer of modern Chinese art from the Luxun Academy of Fine Arts spent most his lifetime teaching, and his name is rarely mentioned in canonical writing on the post-1949 history of Chinese art. Also goes unmentioned are his contemplations on art and achievements that depart from, and transcend, the spirit of the times. The fact that such a pioneer has been forgotten is a pity to art history as well as to us who attempt to think through the post-1949 art scene: its remaining driving force and some effort towards overstepping the confinements of its time.


The painting practice of Zhao Dajun presented in this exhibition began in 2008, when the artist, recovering from an illness, picked up his brushwork again and embarked on a new, eye-opening journey with the "Divine Mountain" series (2008-2010). But we can also say that what we see today is the culmination of his entire artistic career. This is not to confirm the legitimacy and the overall coherence of his lifetime’s work as a whole (or his oeuvre). Rather, what we see throughout his career is an almost fractured language of painting, a tense juxtaposition between multiple heterogeneous styles. Zhao’s artistic career assumes a quality of negation and transcendence. Unlike many who lived through China’s socialist period, he did not merely unleash his long-suppressed creative energy in the early 1980s, thus taking a broader path of realism. If we are to categorize him as abstractionist or abstract expressionist based on the ......