Zhang Peili: From Painting to Video

Zhang Peili: from Painting to Video is a collaboration between MAAP-Media Art Asia Pacific and the Australian Centre on China in the World (CIW), at the Australian National University. The project is built around the recent acquisition of one of Zhang’s last paintings from the 1990s before he shifted his focus to video and media installation art. Newly restored, and never before exhibited, Flying Machine (1994) – a generous gift to CIW from Zhang’s friend and fellow artist, Lois Conner – became an opportunity to explore this significant transition from painting to video, to reflect on the development of media art in China.

Developed with MAAP director Kim Machan, who has worked closely with Zhang for more than a decade, From Painting to Video features a set of the artist’s pioneering video works, which retain their challenging ambiguity. These are complimented by a complex video installation from the late 1990s and a custom-made LED work commissioned by MAAP in 2010. This rare and diverse collection shows how Zhang Peili’s practice has continued to deconstruct media and destabilise systems that produce meaning. Whether by systematically smashing and repairing a mirror, or systematically feeding language through translation software, Zhang’s work enacts an applied system and logic that ultimately reveals uncertainty in the authority that surrounds us.

Curated by Olivier Krischer, Postdoctoral Fellow, Australian Centre on China in the World
and Kim Machan, Director, Media Art Asia Pacific.

Exhibition dates: 27 August–15 November 2016
Gallery hours: 9am–5pm, Monday to Friday
Selected weekends: Saturday and Sunday 27-28 August, 8-9 October, 12-13 November, with gallery talks 2:00 – 2:30pm

Public Events
Zhang Peili keynote lecture at conference ‘Moving Image Cultures in Asian Art
Kim Machan will be making a presentation.This conference is sponsored by ANU’s School of Art in collaboration with CIW and presented by the Australian Consortium on Asian Art.

Zhang Peili has exhibited and collaborated with MAAP on several projects including: MAAP 2000: Presence and Place; MAAP in Beijing MOIST 2002; Light from Light 2010-2012; Light from Light: Reprise 2013; Zhang Peili @ MAAP SPACE 2012LANDSEASKY: revisiting spatiality in video art 2014-2015.

Zhang Peili (b. 1957, Hangzhou, China) is one of the leading artists and arts educators of his generation. In the early 1980s Zhang studied oil painting at the China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, before forming a seminal experimental group (Pond Society) with friends later that decade. In 1988 Zhang’s work 30 x 30 became the first video artwork in Mainland China, meanwhile New York’s Museum of Modern Arts acquired two of his video works and organised a solo exhibition for him – both ‘firsts’ for a Chinese artist.

In the 1990s, Zhang continued to experiment with video and new media, shifting entirely from painting after 1994. Throughout this period his work was shown widely overseas. In 2003, Zhang founded the New Media Department at the China Academy of Art, the first of its kind in the country. In 2010, Zhang was awarded the prestigious China Contemporary Art Award for lifetime contributions to the field. Today, he remains an Associate Professor at the China Academy of Art, as well as being Executive Director of OCAT Shanghai, the first museum in China to specialise in new media arts and architecture.

Major exhibitions include: 4th Lyon Biennale, 1997; Cities on the Move, Austria, France, 1997, 98; Sydney Biennale, 1998; 3rd Shanghai Biennale, 2000. In 1998, he had a solo exhibition at the New York Museum of Modern Art. Lives and works in Hangzhou teaching in China Academy of Fine Arts.

  • Zhang Peili, “Uncertain Pleasure” (1996). 6 channel, 12 monitor video installation, no sound, colour. 5 min 4 sec. Image courtesy of the artist.


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