The painter Zhong Biao has always had a knack for combining close observation and grand vision. Early on, as a student at the Zhejiang Academy in Hangzhou and later as a teacher at the Sichuan Academy in his native Chongqing, he produced realistic depictions of subjects both traditional (pagodas, monks) and contemporary (McDonald’s, aircraft, young fashionistas)—often freely floating and jumbled together. Eventually, these elements were combined with global architectural references and cosmic imagery in huge, totally immersive environments encompassing paintings, murals, mirrors, recorded sound and moving lights. In artist’s talks, he did not hesitate to challenge the distinctions between time and space, past and future.
In eight big new paintings at Klein Sun, the artist has introduced a strain of explicitly political imagery—historical monuments ravaged by ISIS, the White House labeled House of Cards, the Tiananmen Square façade of the Forbidden City associated with conservative president Li Jinping’s much-touted “Chinese Dream”—thus giving a fresh urgency to Zhong’s sense of the unmoored nature of postmodern life. Thematic incongruities are echoed formally in the work’s lushly painted mix of verisimilitude, semi-abstraction and pure abstraction. —Richard Vine
Pictured: Zhong Biao: House of Cards, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 59 by 55 inches. Courtesy Klein Sun, New York.