40-year-old Robert Zhao Renhui is a multidisciplinary artist who draws inspiration from observations and research into the natural world. His practises often explore the relationship between humans and nature. Throughout his career, Zhao has incorporated documentary photography and museum displays to articulate and illustrate his narratives. After receiving the National Arts Council’s Young Artist Award in 2010, Robert would go on to display his exhibitions at the Moscow Biennale in 2017, the Jakarta Biennale in 2017 and Singapore International Festival of The Arts in 2018. While Zhao has already made a name for himself in Singapore and Southeast Asia, he has started to conquer Europe with his special brand of “fictional narratives” and “subversive scientific insistence”.
In July, Renhui alongside curator Haeju Kim were appointed to represent Singapore as the artistic team for the 2024 Venice Biennale telling The Straits Times, “I hope my exhibition will be an experiential and experimental space where visitors can access the rich multiplicity of histories, perspectives and layers of reality that constitute secondary forests and other marginal spaces”.
A Guide To The Flora And Fauna Of The World has been acquired by the prestigious Tate collection in Britain. The piece was originally commissioned by the Singapore Biennale in 2013 and includes an encyclopaedia of catalogued organisms that have been affected by human intervention.
“In Singapore, everything is green and natural, but at the same time also very unnatural. And we’re very small. We’re an island. Every part is controlled and considered. My work looks at the stories that emerge when humans and nature clash together,” says Robert Zhao to Art Sg.
“I think the ability to search in different contexts can be useful or inhibiting sometimes. True discovery of the unknown almost never happens on the Internet,” said Robert in an interview with Art Republik ahead of his exhibition at the Sydney Biennale in 2016.
Read More: Interview: Artist Robert Zhao Renhui
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