Chinese, born 1968
"While this is his first exhibition in the United States, [Xianfeng] Zhao is an esteemed artist in China, having been awarded the prestigious national designation of Senior Craft Artist. He shares the expressive brushwork of the other artists, but is distinguished by his imaginative figurative paintings and drawings. Prolific and highly original, Zhao explains his practice as a “recording [of his] spiritual journey” and process of life.
His large series of faces and contour drawings are especially arresting. Mask-like with open circular mouths and eyes, the faces are layered with colored lines and scribbles. Some faces contain human, animal, or bird forms as if thoughts are being visualized or identities are being obliterated or transformed into something new. His numerous whimsical contour line drawings, reminiscent of drawings by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, or Alexander Calder, include figures fishing and in boats and water, some with wings and others acrobatic. Repetitive forms extend from a few of the figures as if suggesting movement or thoughts. Delightful and intriguing, these works embody the fresh, unexpected perspectives and impressive range of emotions and approaches evident in this exhibition as a whole."
-Margaret Richardson, Ph.D., Department of Fine Arts and Art History, Christopher Newport University