Zhao Yao was born in 1981 in Sichuan province. He graduated from the Design Arts Department of Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in Chongqing. Zhao currently lives and works in Beijing.
Zhao has exhibited both in China and internationally, with exhibitions including: Painting of Thought, Pace, Hong Kong, China (2015); Adventures of the Black Square—Abstract Art and Society 1915–2015, Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2015); Inside China: L’INTÉRIEUR DU GÉANT, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2014); Asia Triennial Manchester 14: Harmonious Society, Manchester, UK (2014); Focus Beijing: De Heus-Zomer Collection, Museum Boijmans VanBeuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands (2014); 28 Chinese, Rubell Family Collection, Miami, USA (2013); China China, Individuality – Collective, Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev, Ukraine (2013) and Spirit above All, Pace London gallery, London, UK (2013). Zhao currently lives and works in Beijing.
Zhao Yao’s work centres on the power of seemingly rudimentary and ‘universal’ symbols that are at once ancient, contemporary and futuristic. Zhao not only explores how such primary structures connect to contemporary social, cultural and political reality, but also questions long-held artistic ideals of authenticity, originality and ‘genius’ in an era of digital abstraction and media spectacle. His work questions ideas of knowledge construction and accepted social codes of understanding, proposing an awareness of our subconscious acceptance of reality so that we may make more autonomous informed decisions.