Zhao Dewei

Zhao Dewei's modern urban expressionism

To say that the Songzhuang artist Zhao Dewei loves art for art's sake would be an underestimation, for here we find a man who not only truly loves his art, but also lives it. Born in Shanghai, though later to settle in Qingdao, as Chairman of the Qingdao Youth Artists Association he tirelessly worked and strove to promote young talent via a self-organised 'Never Stopped By Wind Or Rain' open-air art activity involving contemporary art, behaviour, discussion and affairs. Four years out of a planned ten year programme were completed between 1988 and 1991, the events occurring in that difficult period bringing an unfortunate and premature closure to the activity. However dismaying and disheartening this may have been, the artist was not to be deterred, allaying any fears and doubts during the troublesome social climate to continue his dream, his paintings eventually and successfully shown in major exhibitions, both in mainland China and overseas.

In his latest series of works, Zhao Dewei expressively captures the gritty realities of urban life within the massively and rapidly changing environment of present day Beijing and indeed China as a whole. It is not incredible to note that whilst Britain has five urban centres of more than a million people, China has ninety, and that number will surely continue to grow. Several cities - Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Nanjing - are well known around the world. The names of many others - Suqian, Suining, Xiantao and Liuan for example - are unfamiliar even to many Chinese. The sheer, overwhelming scale of the urbanisation process explored by the artist is most probably faster and certainly on a grander scale than anywhere else in the world today. The city of Chongqing has grown to become what is now the world's largest municipality, with an estimated 31,000,000 residents.

Inevitably, difficult social problems arise: this intensely competitive and restless environment produces stress and conflict, which many have a problem coping with. We as a viewer can find these elements strongly reflected in the artist's choice of topic and abstract expressionist technique: his ability to stage scenes from everyday life in a socio-realist manner that also addresses universal concerns. What at first sight may seem a turbulent arrangement of red, white, black and grey strokes is in-fact highly planned and executed: to reflect true-to-life scenery, the paint is applied rapidly, Zhao Dewei choosing to limit his colour palette in order to strengthen the visual impact of the piece, creating a sense of both immediacy and honesty. However, in the atmospheric cityscapes and urban scenery there is also an existential loneliness, an absorption into the self, and a detachment as we look at, for example, the artist's rendition of a traffic accident: a tragically commonplace occurrence in the life of any city. We, the viewer, are as the spectator, involved yet unable to help, aware that progress must, after all, come at a cost. That is not to say however that the overall theme of the series is one of melancholy - for from it - if anything rhythm and energy characterise Zhao Dewei's work, just as they characterise modern urban life.




Born in Shanghai, China

1985 -1989

The Chairman of Qingdao Youth Artists Association

Selected Solo Exhibtions


One Person's War•Zhao Dewei Solo Exhibition, Soemo Fine Arts, Beijing, China

Mind DrawingsZhao Dewei Artworks Exhibition, Tiantai Art Museum, Qingdao, China


Concerning the City•Zhao Dewei Solo Exhibition, Yi Art Space, 798, Beijing, China


Zhao Dewei Solo Exhibition, Three Plus Three Gallery, 798, Beijing, China


The Past, the Process and the Scene-1996-2003•Zhao Dewei Art Recalling Exhibition, Qingdao, China


Zhao Dewei's New Art Works, Tai Wan


Zhao Dewei Solo Exhibition, China Art museum, Beijing, China


Zhao Dewei•Metaphysics Series Exhibition, Qingdao Art Museum, Qingdao, China


1978-1996 Zhao Dewei Art Recalling Exhibition, Qingdao, China

Selected Group Exhibitions


Three Persons' WalkingYi Ling-Zhao Dewei-Liu Guoyi Exihibition, AK Art Center, Beijing, China

AFF Hong Kong, Hong Kong


MeltContemporary Art Invitation Exhibition, Jiaodou Art Museum, Beijing, China

Songzhuang Artists Group Exhibition, Sunshine Art Museum, Beijing, China

I am who I amContemporary Art Exhibition, Aimen Gallery, Beijing, China

RoadTruthLife Exhibition, Beijing, China

Song Zhuang Art Festival, Songzhuang, Beijing, China


Companion Art Exhibition, Songzhuang, Beijing, China


Contemporary Artists Invitation Exhibition, Songzhuang Art Museum, Beijing, China


SH Contemporary Art Fair 2011, by Soemo Fine Arts, Beijing, China


Good Morning•Welcom 2008, Yi Art Space, 798, Beijing, China


Xu•Shi, Soemo Fine Arts, Beijing, China

News From Qingdao, Yi Art Space, 798, Beijing, China

Living in Songzhuang, Sonzhuang Art Museum, Songzhuang, Beijing, China

1980s-Qingdao Dreams of Contemporary Art, Yi Art Museum, Beijing, China

It Means......Suoluo Oil Invitation Exhibition, Suoluo Gallery, Beijing, China


Songzhuang Artists Recommendation Exhibition, Sunshine Art Museum, Beijing, China

Songzhuang Oil Painting, Beijing East Area Art Centre, Beijing, China

New Power•China Contemporary Artists Exhibition, Ts1 Contemporary Art Centre, Beijing, China

The First Songzhuang Multi-Media Art Exhibition, Songzhuang Art Committee, Beijing, China

There is Qianshao•There Is Art, Qianshao Art Gallery, Beijing, China

The First Occupational Artists Exhibition, Yan Club, Rain Gallery, 798, Beijing, China

Documental Exhibition of Chinese Contemporary Visual Art, Beijing, China

Songzhuang Free Art Exhibition, Beijing, China

Rainbow Date, Sunshine Art Museum, Beijing, China


Turning up Hand is Cloud, Turning Down Hand is Rain-China Contemporary Art Exhibition, Ts1 Contemporary Art Centre, Beijing, China

Songzhuang Road•China Contemporary Art Exhibition, Songzhang Art Factory, Beijing, China

Songzhuang Contemporary Art Interaction-Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition, Beijing, China


Kaohsiung Art Exhibition, Kaohsiung, Taiwan


The 7th Shanghai Art Exhibition, Shanghai Expo Centre, Shanghai, China


Space on Paper•China Contemporary Art Exhibition, Beijing TaiKang Top Space, Beijing, China


Media Intervention•Contemporary Art Invitation Exhibition, Qingdao Navy Museum, Qingdao, China

The 5th International Art Expo of China, Beijing, China