Microscopic Event

The foundation of Zhang Xiaotao's artistic process is the scar art in the late 1970s and early 1980s. His hometown is Hechuan. At that time, the basic characteristics of the scar art were to manifest the historical trauma of the characters and to manifest the problems in history and reality. This feature of scar art constitutes a basic theme in the 40 years of reform and opening-up, even if the problems are different in different periods. As long as you are familiar with the works of artists from different periods, you can see that this characteristic of scar art has a genetic impact on Zhang Xiaotao's art.

Zhang Xiaotao graduated from the Department of Oil Painting of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute. In 2010, he participated in the creation of the Department of New Media Art of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute. His space for study, life and work spanned quite a bit –touring to domestic cities at the beginning and including the whole world later. With his extensive reading, the artist has a sensitive insight and analytical ability. In the 1990s, with China quickly involved in the trend of globalization, Zhang's vision was extremely broad. Zhang Xiaotao's knowledge experience has determined that he will not limit his art to only one form and means. Under the new conditions, he demonstrates a positive exploration of the multiple possibilities of art: especially for the choice of artistic problems, he has filled his personal experience with public issues, local experience and international issues, current experience and historical issues, aesthetic experience and political issues with questioning and dynamic performance, making his artistic content extremely complex and continuous dramaticism.

As an artist born in the 1970s, Zhang Xiaotao began to accept the baptism of modernism ideology and culture. During his university studies on ancient art relics such as Dunhuang and Xi'an, he studied Western literary works "One Hundred Years of Solitude", "The Metamorphosis", and "Remembrance of Things Past", "The Interpretation of Dreams", "The Golden Bough", and works on art history such as "A History of Modern Art" by H. H. Arnson, Art Today by Edward Lucie-Smith, and other readings, including Francisco Jose de Goya, El Greco, Egon Schiele, Max Beckmann, René Magritte, Giorgio de Chirico, Joseph Beuys, Andy Warhol, Lucian Freud. The deep understanding of Western artists has built up the knowledge structure of his artistic creation. With understanding the characteristics of Western artists, it is not difficult to find out such a knowledge structure is doomed that Zhang Xiaotao’s art cannot be joyous or full of optimism, which is even consistent with his feelings obtained from the scar art in aesthetics.

In the year of graduation, Zhang Xiaotao started from the base of the "scar" and participated in the "Personal Experience" exhibition at Exhibition Hall of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute. In later life, he interacted with artists of the previous generation, and read some postmodern philosophical works such as: Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillard, and Pierre Bourdieu, starting to question the essence of modernism – these are his tools to get rid of scar art. For the series of " Wedding Dresses of Sweet Words" that began to be created in the following year and the "Happy Times" series that began in 1998, Zhang Xiaotao opened the gap from the reverse theme and the historical frontal review of the "scar" tradition: it seems to be given to acceptable life. There may be hidden problems, and critical gaze begins to enter the heart from historical reality. Since 1999, Zhang Xiaotao has had the opportunity to observe and study abroad: Germany, Austria and Italy, and began to participate in and organize his own exhibitions in Europe.

In the new century, China and the world have further close relations, which makes Zhang Xiaotao be able to cooperate with many western art institutions to hold exhibitions. In 2002 and 2003, Zhang Xiaotao held a solo exhibition "The Erosion of Materialism" at the Fine Arts Museum of Kunstakademie Münster in Germany and the Aki Aniki Gallery in Paris, France. His description on the traditional resistance and internal relevance of "scar" is fully presented through his ability to paint. He hopes to discover new problems while retaining descriptive methods. Such kind of the result is that painting has new characteristics. In 2004, he held a solo exhibition "DreamWorks Studios and Garbage Dump" at the Tokyo Art Project in Beijing. The artist's work has already demonstrated the language ability of the new painting: the performance is not simply obeyed. During this period, a new generation of artists such as Yin Zhaoyang, Li Songsong, Li Dafang, and Qin Qi who created a new stage in the field of painting emerged. They formed the main body of "new paintings" that exhibited conceptual features through expression and description. It was at this time that Zhang Xiaotao also started the experiment of animation. He produced the first experimental animated short film "Night" at the end of 2005. While studying and experimenting with new paintings, he began to further develop the theme of art. When he began reading some books on globalization in 2006, such as "Empire", he began to think about the relationship of global free market with post-socialistism and the issue of modernity in the process of urbanization". "The Mist" is the result of this type of thinking. Since this period, Zhang Xiaotao has been carrying out painting, video, comprehensive art experiments and other academic projects involving art at the same time. He tried to construct a comprehensive artistic proposition in different ways and means: the ideology of art rather than the simple political ideology will influence one's own creation. As a result, in 2008, Professor Wu Hung of the University of Chicago and Feng Boyi, a famous independent curator, organized a solo exhibition "Micro Narrative" for the artist at the Iberia Art Center in Beijing. The exhibition presented Zhang Xiaotao's artistic landscape composed of different language styles. During this period, comprehensive art means became a new artistic landscape. Zhang Xiaotao was sensitive and participated in the art experiment of getting rid of a single form.

For Zhang Xiaotao, the “popular virology” solo exhibition at the Guangdong Museum of Art in China was a turn in 2010. The artist hopes to combine the micro perspective with the grand real society to find a position of relativism. The microscopic becomes a macroscopic variant, symbolizing the structure of the macroscopic world through microscopic symbols—this is another manifestation of Max Berkmann's “making invisible visible”. The whispering of Buddhism began to infiltrate into Zhang Xiaotao's thinking. He began to link the present world with those eternal problems. The animated film "Saga" is the result of this state of mind. Contrary to the theme of "Saga" or "Rebirth", Zhang Xiaotao started the preparation of the animated feature film "Spring of Huangpiping" in September, 2011. The early memories or personal experiences reappeared, but at this time, Zhang Xiaotao didn't focus on the specific content of personal experience, but the conflicts and contradictions with public experience. To a certain extent, this is an inductive subject review, but the language and visual effects presented are quite different from the past.

Zhang Xiaotao's creative vitality enabled him to create lots of works and participate in different international exhibitions. Until September, in 2019, his work "The Three Thousand World · Ephemera" participated in the Austria Linz Electronic Arts Festival. Zhang Xiaotao showed a shocking creative vitality. This is why the audience will have a dazzling feeling when they visit the artist's exhibition. The exhibition "Microscopic Events - Zhang Xiaotao's Works Exhibition" will be Zhang Xiaotao's most complete art exhibition. Provided you understand the artist's artistic process and starting point, we can discover the inner logic between the artists' artistic experiments in different periods. The difference is that we will be immersed in the aesthetic drama that we can't see the ending at once.


Tuesday, October 22, 2019