Shao was exposed to art from an early age: both his parents taught Soviet-style oil painting, and his father had a collection of traditional painting, calligraphy, and furniture, which he was able to retain during the Cultural Revolution owing to his high status in the Communist party. Shao studied wood carving and porcelain making in Beijing, but soon began to rethink much of what he studied at school, and to explore “how to be a Chinese artist, by trial and error.” This led, in 1995, to his famous Chair series in which historic Ming-style forms are reconstructed into sleek, sometimes surreal, modern hybrids using contemporary forms, techniques, and materials. Teasing the boundaries between art and design, these works not only illuminate aesthetic connections across time and culture, but in a way also demonstrate how China’s past can both adapt to and coexist with its rapidly changing and increasingly globalized present.
Pearl Lam , Hong Kong (until 2010; donated to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China," December 9, 2013–April 6, 2014.