b. 1961 in Shanghai, lives and works in San Francisco and Shanghai


Throughout his career of three decades, Zheng Chongbin (b. 1961, Shanghai) has held the classical Chinese ink tradition and Western pictorial abstraction in productive mutual tension. Systematically exploring and deconstructing their conventions and constituents—figure, texture, space, geometry, gesture, materiality—he has developed a distinctive body of work that makes the vitality of matter directly perceptible. Central to Zheng’s art is the notion of the world as always in flux, consisting of flows of matter and energy that repeatedly cohered and dissipated. Inherent in pre-modern Chinese and especially Daoist thought, this worldview enables contemporary inquiries into complex systems like climate and social behavior, artificial intelligence, and quantum physics. Through the interactions of ink, acrylic, water, and paper, Zheng’s paintings generate and record the processes that underlie the emergence of order (including organic life and human consciousness) and its inevitable dissipation. His paintings thus resemble natural structures ranging from neurons, blood vessels, and tree branches to mountains, rivers, and coastlines, but by instantiating their formation rather than by objective depiction.


Maintaining his commitment to painting, Zheng Chongbin has extended his conceptual explorations into the media of installation and video. His landmark light-and-space installation Wall of Skies (2015) consists of a complex folded structure fully enclosed by a tilted ceiling and slanted walls, creating a delicate interplay of nonparallel lines and planes. Resolving neither into painting, nor sculpture, nor pure light and space, it insists on its material presence even as its objecthood is dissolved in a spatial experience. In his video installations, Zheng represents processes of nature—from molecular and cellular to topographical and climatic—in the scale of human perception through microscopic and macroscopic imagery and accompanying soundscapes, unfolding these processes spatially and temporally.


Zheng Chongbin was educated as a classical Chinese figurative painter at the elite China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, where he taught for four years after graduation in 1984. Acclaimed as one of China’s preeminent young experimental ink painters in the 1980's, he mounted his first solo exhibition at the Shanghai Museum of Art in 1988. In 1989, he received a fellowship from the San Francisco Art Institute to study installation, performance, and conceptual art, receiving his MFA in 1991. A resident of the San Francisco Bay Area for over three decades, Zheng is inspired by the region's distinctive atmospheric and environmental effects and rich ecologies, as well as by the California light and space movement.


In recent years, Zheng Chongbin has been recognized by a growing number international curators and institutions. In 2015, Zero Movement scholar Renate Wiehager exhibited Zheng’s White Reflection (2012) with a work by senior German artist Max Uhlig at Daimler Contemporary in Berlin. Zheng debuted his environmental video installation, Chimeric Landscape (2015), at the European Cultural Centre’s exhibition Personal Structures during the 2015 Venice Biennale. M+, under the direction of Lars Nittve, former founding Director of the Tate Modern, acquired eight works that document the development of Zheng’s practice since the 1980’s. In November 2015, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art began to feature the recently-acquired Turbulence (2013) in a two-artist presentation of Zheng and Roy Lichtenstein. In March 2016, the Metropolitan Museum of Art finalized its acquisition of Unfolding Landscape (2015) and the Brooklyn Museum its acquisition of Skylines (2014), both major abstract paintings by the artist. For Wall of Skies, Zheng was selected one of eleven highlighted artists by curators Raqs Media Collective at the 2016 Shanghai Biennale Why Not Ask Again?


Zheng’s work can be found in the collections, among others, of the British Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, the Orange County Museum of Art in California, M+ in Hong Kong, the Daimler Art Collection in Stuttgart, Germany, the DSL Collection in France, and the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. Zheng is the subject of a documentary film, The Enduring Passion of Ink, and an in-depth monograph Zheng Chongbin: Impulse, Matter, Form, edited by Britta Erickson and distributed by D.A.P. in the United States.


Articles, Reviews and Interview 

Zheng Chongbin郑重宾. “You zuohua suo xiangdao de” 由作画所想到的[Thoughts from Painting]. Huajia画家 [Painter]no. 3 (September 1986): 30-31.


Lang Shaojun郎绍君. “Chouxiang yuhui de xunzhao — Zheng Chongbin shuimohua de qishi” 抽象語汇的寻找——郑重宾水墨画的启示.[Searching for the Abstract Vocabulary—The Revelation of Zheng Chongbin’s Ink Painting]. Zhongguo meishu bao中国美术报 [Fine Arts in China]no. 21 (1988).


“Abstract Meeting of East and West.” San Francisco Chronicle, July 28, 1989.


Brenhouse, Hillary. “Brush with Modernity.” Time International (Asia Edition)October 3, 2011.(,9171,2094434,00.html


Chattopadhyay, Collette. “Zheng Chongbin: Defining His Own Terrain.” Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art 10, no. 4 (July/August 2011): 21–26.


Chen, Xiaoxin 陈孝信. “Lun shuimo yishu lingyu nei de shehuixue zhuanxing” 论水墨艺术领域内的社会学转型 [On Sociological Transformation in Ink and Wash Paintings]. Pipingjia 批评家 [Art Critic], no. 1 (August 2008): 39-45.


Claypool, Lisa. “Architectonic Ink: Zheng Chongbin in Conversation with Lisa Claypool.” Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art 10, no. 4 (July/August 2011): 41–53.


Claypool, Lisa. “Where is Shanghai?.” Orientations 41, no. 1 (January / February 2010): 50–54.


Claypool, Lisa 祁珊立. “Houxiandai shuimo”后现代水墨 [Postmodern Ink]. In Zhongguo baijia jinling huazhan: zhongwai xuezhe gaofeng luntan lunwen huibian 中国百家金陵画展:中外学者高峰论坛论文汇编 [China Jinling Exhibition Chinese and Foreign Scholars BBS Peak].Nanjing: Nanjing daxue 南京大学 [Nanjing University], 2011, pp. 17–23.


Cohn, Terri. “Counter Attacks.” Artweek, December 12, 1991.


“Conceptual Art by the Book.” San Francisco Examiner, Art Section, April 24, 1992.


Daswani, Kavita. “King of Ink.” South China Morning Post, August 14, 2012.


DeWolf, Christopher. “The Rebirth of Chinese Ink Painting.”, May 20, 2011. (


Erickson, Britta 林似竹. “Zheng Chongbin de kongjian lingyu” 郑重宾的空间领域 [Innovations in Space: Ink Paintings by Zheng Chongbin]. InZheng, Chongbin 郑重宾. Zheng Chongbin: shuimo hua 郑重宾:水墨画 [Zheng Chongbin: Ink Painting]. Shanghai: printed by author, 2007.


Erickson, Britta. “Innovations in Space: Ink Paintings by Zheng Chongbin.” In Zheng Chongbin: Emergent. Singapore: Valentine Willie Fine Art, 2010. Variation of “Innovations in Space: Ink Paintings by Zheng Chongbin,” 2007.


Erickson, Britta 林似竹. “Lun Zheng Chongbin de shuimohua” 论郑重宾的水墨画 [Discussing the Ink Paintings of Zheng Chongbin]. Guojia meishu 国家美术 [National Arts], no. 8 (July/ August 2009): 44–51.


Erickson, Britta 林似竹. “Xinyi angran, hunhou tiancheng: lun Zheng Chongbin de shuimohua”新意盎然,浑厚天成——论郑重宾的水墨画[Discussing the Ink Paintings of Zheng Chongbin]. Meishu xiangdao 美术向导 [Art Guide], no. 133 (March 2008): 35–48.


Erickson, Britta 林似竹. “Kongjian yu huihua linian de chuangxin: Zheng Chongbin he Qiu Shihua de huihua” 空间与绘画理念的创新:郑重宾和邱世华的绘画 [Innovations in Space and Painting Philosophy: Paintings by Zheng Chongbin and Qiu Shihua]. In Feng, Bin 冯斌 and Shen Kuiyi 沈揆一, eds. Chongxin qidong: disanjie Chengdu shuangnianzhan 重新启动:第三届成都双年展 [Reboot: The Third Chengdu Biennale]. Shijiazhuang: Hebei meishu chubanshe 河北美术出版社 [Heibei Fine Arts Publishing House], 2007, 80–83. Edited version published in Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art 7, no. 1 (January 2008): 56–58.


Ewart, Nancy. “The Dimension of Ink, #1 by Zheng Chongbin (at the Asian).” San Francisco Examiner, February 28, 2010.


“From Cover to Cover.” Artweek, May 7, 1992.


Godfrey, Tony. “Zheng Chongbin: Ten Metaphors with which to Experience his Paintings.” Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art 10, no. 4 (July/August 2011): 27–40.


“Group 6 Goes to China.” Artweek, November 17, 1994, 3.


Gu, Jing 顾婧. “Xuan · Yan” 宣·延 [Xuan, etc.]. Yishu luntan 艺术论坛 [Art Forum],  July 31, 2011. (


Hou, Hanru 侯瀚如. “Zhen yu jia de duijie: Zheng Chongbin de xin zuo (jiexuan)” 连接真与假——郑重宾近作(节选) [Connecting Real and Fake: Zheng Chongbin’s Recent Works (Excerpts)]. Yishu dangdai 艺术当代 [Art China], no. 5 (2010): 96–97.


Hou Hanru. “Connecting the Real and the Fake: Zheng Chongbin’s New Work.” Zheng Chongbin: Emergent. Singapore: Valentine Willie Fine Art, 2010.


“Image Magazine.” San Francisco Chronicle, September 10, 1989, 44–45.

Kolesnikov-Jessop, Sonia. “Zheng Chongbin Creates Amorphous Ink Geometries.” Artinfo, October 21, 2012.(


Kolesnikov-Jessop, Sonia. “Zheng Chongbin Creates Amorphous Ink Geometries.” Artinfo, October 21, 2012.(


Lang, Shaojun 郎绍君. “Chouxiang yuhui de xunzhao: Zheng Chongbin shuimohua de qishi”抽象语汇的寻找——郑重宾水墨画的启示 [In Search of an Abstract Vocabulary: On Zheng Chongbin’s Ink Paintings]. Zhongguo meishu bao 中国美术报 [China Fine Arts Journal], vol. 21, May 23, 1988.


Liao, Liao 了了. “Chongsu yazhou hexin wenhua de yuyan” 重塑亚洲核心文化的语言 [Rebuild the Language of Asian Core Culture].Zhongguo meishu 国家美术 [National Arts](August 2009): 43–51.


Scholz, Zachary Royer. “Best exhibition you likely never saw: Zheng Chongbin, White Ink, Chinese Cultural Center of San Francisco, May 19–September 3, 2011.” In “Best Of: Year Two.” Art Practical, August 16, 2011.(


Straus, Tamara. “Chinese Ink Painter Zheng Goes Full Circle with New Show.” San Francisco Chronicle, May 18, 2011.


Van Proyen, Mark. “Thoughts on Recent Abstract Painting.”, October 5, 2011.(


Van Proyen, Mark. “A Tour de Force.” Art in America (June 2011): 197.


Zheng Chongbin. “Adding Perspective.” Pipeline, no. 27 (March 2012): cover, 45, 50.


Zheng Chongbin 郑重宾. “Shuimo: zuowei xiangzheng yiwei de yuyan” 水墨——作为象征意味的语言 [Ink: As a Symbolic Language]. Huajia画家 [Painter] (September 1986).


Liu, Lei 刘磊 interviewed Zheng Chongbin 郑重宾. “Zheng Chongbin: wo de zuopin yizhi zai zuo liangzhong yuxi de zhenghe” 郑重宾:我的作品一直在做两种语系的整合 [Zheng Chongbin: My Works are Constantly Working on Integrating Two Kinds of Language]. Huakan: jinri zhongguo meishu 画刊:今日中国美术 [Art Semi-monthly Chinese Art Today], no. 40 (December 2012): 28–29.


Wilson, Kate. Drawing and Painting: Materials and Techniques for Contemporary Artists. UK: Thames and Hudson, (February 2, 2015): 38–39.


Wilson, Kate. The Artist’s Everything Handbook: a New Guide to Drawing and Painting. USA: Harper Design (February 17, 2015): 38–39.


Wang, Oliva. “A Spirit in the Dark”. The Wall Street Journal, March 11, 2015.



Exhibition Catalogues and Monographs 

Chattopadhyay, Collette, Abby Chen, and Kuiyi Shen. White Ink. San Francisco: Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco, 2011.


Chattopadhyay, Collette, Abby Chen, and Kuiyi Shen. China’s Imperial Modern: The Painter’s Craft. Edmonton: University of Alberta Museums, 2012.


Chattopadhyay, Collette. Calligraffitti: ‘Writing’ in Contemporary Chinese and Chicano Art. Pasadena: Pacific Asia Museum, 2009, unpublished.


Crudo, Francesca, et al. Personal Structures: Culture·Mind·Becoming. Leiden: Global Art Center, 2013.


Feng Bin 冯斌, and Shen Kuiyi 沈揆一, eds. Chongxin qidong: disanjie Chengdu shuangnianzhan 重新启动:第三届成都双年展 [Reboot: The Third Chengdu Biennale]. Shijiazhuang: Hebei meishu chubanshe 河北美术出版社 [Heibei Fine Arts Publishing House], 2007.


Johnson, Mark Dean, ed. The Moment for Ink. San Francisco: San Francisco State University, 2013.


Knight, Michael J., et al. Shanghai: Art of the City. San Francisco: Asian Art Museum, 2010.


Noth, Jochen, et al., eds. China Avant-Garde: Counter-Currents in Art and Culture. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1993.


Valentine Willie Fine Art. Zheng Chongbin: Emergent. Singapore: Valentine Willie Fine Art, 2010.


Zheng, Chongbin 郑重宾. Zheng Chongbin: shuimo hua 郑重宾:水墨画 [Zheng Chongbin: Ink Painting]. Shanghai: printed by author, 2007.


Erickson, Britta. Zheng Chongbin: Impulse, Matter, Form (Contemporary Chinese Ink) . New York: Distributed Art Publishers, 2014.



Other Materials


Asiart Archive. Collection Online: Zheng Chongbin. (。


Erickson, Britta. producer and director. “Zheng Chongbin's Lines." In The Enduring Passion for Ink: A Project on Contemporary Chinese Ink Painters. Part of 10-part film series, 16 min., digital, color, sound, 2013.


Fine Arts In China, May 1988, fig. Zheng, Chongbin 郑重宾. Lianpu 脸谱 [Facial Types] (1987/88), fig. Ren de lingyi zhong zhuangtai 人的另一种状态 [Anther State of Man] (1988).