video art, photography

Zhao Liang

China 1971

Photography, Video Art, Video Installation

Zhao Liang
Zhao Liang
March 9, 2015

Zhao Liang is a famous Chinese documentary film director, also known for his remarkable video installations and photography.

Liang was born in 1971 in Dandong, Liaoning Province in China. He graduated from the Luxun Academy of Fine Arts in 1992, and moved to Beijing in 1993, where he worked as an independent documentary filmmaker as well as working in photography and video art creation.

Zhao Liang began his artistic career as a photographer in the 1990s before voyaging into documentaries. Two of his early documentaries, Farewell, Yuanmingyuan and Paper Airplane, are pioneering works in Chinese documentary film. The former records the last days of the art village before its closure by the authority in 1995, and the latter follows the lives of disenfranchised youths amid the breakdown of China’s socialist system in the 1990s.

A precursor of the revolutionary documentary movement in China, Zhao Liang’s reserved and effective camerawork exposes the struggles of people from different segments of the Chinese society. In 2007, his documentary Crime and Punishment won the Montgolfiere d’or Award at the Festival of Three Continents, Nantes, France, among other awards. His 2009 documentary Petition: The Court of the Complainants premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and propelled Zhao Liang to wider international acclaim.

Zhao Liang has been involved in video art, documentaries, short films, and photography for a long period of time. Each work reveals the artist’s acute observations of social realities in China. By exploring urban and rural life in Chinese society, Zhao Liang attains a penetrating understanding of individual truth and conceptually embodies the temporality of events and existence in his works. The subject matter that Zhao Liang uses comes straight from what he sees and hears in the real world, and his finished works present representations of the ordinary. The most important aspect of his works, then, is the artist’s attitude toward reality and reality’s expressions.

Zhao Liang’s photographs are in the permanent collections of The Deutsche Bank Collection, The Goetz Collection and Three Shadows Photography Art Center Collection. Combining projections, installations, sounds, photographs, and light boxes, Zhao Liang’s works unite and transform the exhibition space.

His work has been shown in both film festivals and museum exhibitions, including Chinese Realities/Documentary Visions held in 2013 at NY’s MoMA where his landmark film, Petition screened the five-hour long version for the first time.

Zhao Liang is currently based in Beijing.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumGroup/Solo
2014Black Face, White FacePekin Fine Arts, Beijing, ChinaSolo
20131st Beijing Photo BiennialBeijing, ChinaGroup
2012Zhao Liang’s Section & Parallel Exhibition Lanterns9th Documenta Madrid, SpainSolo
201260-minute CinemaChinese Arts Centre, Manchester, UKGroup
2011Zhao Liang s Section - XI International Film FestivalWatch Docs. Human Rights in Film, Warsaw, PolandSolo
2011Urban Utopia: Deutsche Bank Collection ExhibitionHong KongGroup
2010Heavy SleeperWalker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USSolo
2010The Potosi Principle: How can we sing the song of Lord in an alien landMuseo Reina Sofía, Madrid, SpainGroup
2010The Potosi Principle: How can we sing the song of Lord in an alien landHKW (Haus der Kulturen der Welt), Berlin, GermanyGroup
2010The Potosi Principle: How can we sing the song of Lord in an alien landNational Museum of Fine Arts, La Paz, BoliviaGroup
2010Le Deluge, Après Mao: An Exhibition of Work by Significant Contemporary Chinese ArtistsThe Cress Gallery of Art, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, TN, USAGroup
2009The EverydayPhotoEspaña 2009, Madrid, SpainGroup
2009Still Life: Contemporary Chinese PhotographyEuropalia, Brussel, BelgiumGroup
2009We Are The World: Photography from China and the NetherlandsThree Shadows Photography Art Center, Beijing, ChinaGroup
2009We Are The World: Photography from China and the NetherlandsDutch Cultural Centre, Shanghai, ChinaGroup
2009We Are The World: Photography from China and the NetherlandsGuangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, ChinaGroup
2008Instant: Zhao Liang’s Videos & PhotosThreeshadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, ChinaSolo
2008Instant: Zhao Liang’s Videos & PhotosL.A Gallery, Frankfurt, GermanySolo
2008FokuschinaStasiatiska Museum, SwedenGroup
20085th Berlin BiennialBerlin, GermanyGroup
200812th International Biennial of Photography and Photo-Related ArtHouston, TX, USAGroup
2006III International Video-Art Biennial In IsraelIsraelGroup
2005Paris-Berlin International Video Art Festival FranceGermanyGroup
2004New Photo and Video Art from China ICPNew York, USGroup
2004Regeneration: Contemporary Chinese Art from China and the USSamek Art Gallery at Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA, USGroup
2004Out the window - Space of distractionThe Japan Foundation Asia Center, JapanGroup
2003How Latitudes Become FormsWalker Art Center, Minneapolis, USGroup
2003How Latitudes Become FormsFondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo per l’Art, Torino, ItalyGroup
2003How Latitudes Become FormsContemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, Texas, USAGroup
2002The 48th International Short Film FestivalOberhausen, GermanyGroup
2002Input 2002Rotterdam, NetherlandGroup
2002Chinese Show Unit1st International Video-Art Biennial, IsraelGroup
2001The 8th New York Underground Film FestivalNew York, USGroup
2001The Next GenerationAsia Contemporary Art Exhibition, Paris, FranceGroup
2001Up-RicingHong KongGroup
2001Ars 01Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki, FinlandGroup
2001The 13th Brazil International Digital Art FestivalSao Paulo, BrazilGroup
2000Microwave FestivalHong KongGroup
2000City ZoomsHanover, GermanyGroup
2000Lights Are On But Nobody Is HomeShanghai, ChinaGroup
1999Video Forms 99FranceGroup
1999Up and ComingHanover, GermanyGroup
1999Poly phenolreneBeijing, ChinaGroup
1999A New Chinese Art ExhibitionDesign Museum & Chinese Cultural Center, Beijing, ChinaGroup
1998The 16th World Wide Video FestivalAmsterdam, HollandGroup
1998ParanoidBeijing, ChinaGroup
1998LifeWan Fung Gallery, Beijing, ChinaGroup
1997China Contemporary Video Art ExhibitionDemonstration of Video Art, Central Academy of Fine Arts Gallery, Beijing, ChinaGroup
1997China Contemporary Artistic Photographic ExhibitionNBK, GermanyGroup