b. 1974 in Hunan, lives and works in Beijing


A Hunan native who maintains an emotional distance towards her adopted home of Beijing, Tao Aimin approaches the lives of rural Chinese women with a combination of empathy and anthropological curiosity. With eloquent inarticulacy, she gives voice to their unexpressed and undocumented experiences, which are increasingly at risk of being forgotten. Incorporating found objects, painting, calligraphy, printmaking, video, and installation, her works move fluently between elite and popular culture and between the languages of traditional and contemporary art. They are bold and sensitive meditations on the issues of artistic authorship and self-representation, labor, embodied knowledge, and collective memory.


Since 2005, Tao Aimin has created a series of works from wooden washboards that she has collected in the hundreds on repeated visits to the countryside. They have been fractured and deformed by repeated and prolonged exposure to the elements. Once household necessities, they have been now largely supplanted with modern technology, a fate shared by the culture of the women who used them. For the artist, these washboards are the only material evidence of the women’s toil: “I am concerned with the circumstances of women in different eras. Washboards—these ‘artifacts’ submerged for years in water—are symbols of the women of a different time, a river of life witnessed by countless women in history.”


These washboards form the installation Women’s River (2005), a multivalent metaphor for resilience, continuity, and transience. Many of the women who owned the washboards are illiterate and possess no visual records of themselves. Tao Aimin paints their portraits on the washboards, which are in a sense their only self-portraits. In Women’s Book (2005), she collects washboards into albums, turning them into wordless storybooks and their physical fractures into the signs of an inarticulate language. In Washed Relics (2006, 2014), she strings the washboards together with fishing lines into wall-size suspended displays that recall archaeological relics and anthropological specimens in museums. Constituted by mundane and personal objects of anonymous women, these installations are counterpoints to the monumental and universalizing estrangements of language and culture by contemporary male artists, most notably Xu Bing’s Book from the Sky series.


More recently, Tao Aimin has used washboards not directly as found objects, but rather as printing blocks to create rubbing impressions on xuan paper. She thus engages the traditions of calligraphy, woodblock prints, and epigraphic studies. In Women’s Book (2005), she collects such rubbings into classical string-bound volumes and inscribes them in Nüshu, a syllabic script invented by women of Jiangyong County in Hunan to transcribe their local dialect. With these counterfactual artifacts, Tao Aimin posits an alternative literate tradition—unfamiliar to us not because it is fictive or imaginary, but because it has been suppressed and confined to the margins.


Tao Aimin graduated from the Fine Arts Department of National Huaqiao University, Fujian in 1999 and an Assistant Lecturer training course in the Mural Painting Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2001. She has previously exhibited in World Art Museum of China Millennium Monument (2005, 2006, 2011), National Art Museum of China (2009), Today Art Museum (2008, 2010), Sakshi Gallery (2009), and Ink Studio (2014). She has received a Newcomer Award 2006 Chinese Contemporary Art Document Exhibition, a nomination for the Xiao Shufen Award from the Wu Zuoren International Art Foundation, and a nomination as Art China Artist of the Year in the Installation and Multimedia category (2009). Her works can be found in the collections of Yanhuang Art Museum and Chengdu Modern Art Museum, among others.

Currently           Lives and works in Beijing, China
1974           Born in Hunan Province, China 


1999           Graduated from Art Department, Huaqiao University, Quanzhou, China        



          Graduated from Assistant Lecturer Training class in Mural Painting Department, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China


2009           Nominated Artist of the Year in installation and multimedia by Art China
2008           Xiao Shufang Arts Award nomination, Wu Zuoren International Foundation of Fine Arts



          Newcomer Award of 2006 Chinese Contemporary Art Document Exhibition, The China Millennium Monument





Riverbed, One Moon Gallery, Beijing, China

Through Woman's Fingers, Cocolan Art Center, Beijing, China



          A Woman’s Long March: Device, Video and Photography Exhibition, Long March Space, Beijing, China
2001           Solo Exhibition, Corridor Gallery in Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China









Naturally Women: An All-female Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition, KIP International School Pavilion of Milan EXPO, Milan, Italia

Innovatively Transformed Folk Art, 2015 Beijing 798 Art Festival,Beijing, China

“Promotion Exhibition” Theme Display, Dashanzi Art District, Beijing, China

Burst into Bloom, The First Session of Chinese Contemporary Women Artists Exhibition, Chengdu, China

2014           Ink and the Body, Ink Studio, Beijing, China     






Color Temperature: Exchange Exhibition of 27 of China’s Finest Young Artists, Osman Hamdi Bey Hall, Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Istanbul, Turkey

The Second Chinese Female Artists Exhibition, The Chinese Museum of Women and Children, Beijing, China




We Are Young, Yunmen Yaji Art Museum, Beijing, China

Luan Feng Qi Ming: Female Artists Exhibition, Tree Museum, Beijing, China






Existence without Immortality: Modern Female Artists Exhibition Series, China Millennium Monument Contemporary Art Center, Beijing, China

Half the Sky­: Women in the New Art of China, Leonard Pearlstein Gallery, Drexel University, Philadelphia, U.S.A. 








Pingyao International Photography Festival, Pingyao Cotton Mill Factory, Pingyao, China

Artistic Impression of Chinese, Today Art Museum, Beijing, China

Chinese Women Art Exhibition, The Chinese Museum of Women and Children, Beijing, China

The Possibility of Uncertainty — 798 and the Surrounding Community Youth Art Exhibition, Songzhuang Art Museum, Beijing, China















Ink Cutting-Edge 2009, The Wenjin International Art Center, Beijing, China

Counterparts: Chinese & Germany Contemporary Art Exhibition, Wuhan Art Museum, Wuhan, China

First Chongqing Biennale for the Young Artists, CQ International Convention & Exhibition Center, Chongqing, China

China Narratives: the Fourth Chengdu Biennale, Chengdu Century City New International Convention and Exhibition Center, Chengdu, China

The Tradition of the New: Emerging Artists Group Exhibition, Sakshi Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan, China

Describe · Speak: 2009 Cross-Strait Contemporary Art, National Art Museum of China, Beijing; National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art, Taichung, Taiwan 

In the Mood for Paper, F2 Gallery, Beijing, China

Nu Yishu — Series IV-Nu Red, Imagine Gallery, Beijing, China













Future Sky Chinese Young Contemporary Artist works Selection Exhibition, Today Art Museum, Beijing, China

Ink Cutting-Edge 2008, 798 Art Bridge Gallery, Beijing, China

In Progress Now — 2008 · Let Nanjing Fly, Phoenix Art Museum, Nanjing, China

Ink Not Ink: Chinese Contemporary Ink Painting Invitation Exhibition,

Shenzhen Art Museum, Shenzhen, China; Today Art Museum, Beijing, China; Bossone Research Center, Drexel University, Philadelphia, U.S.A.

Multiple Realities, F2 Gallery, Beijing, China

Female on the Way, Mozen Art Museum, Beijing, China

Long March Capital-Visual Economy, Long March Space, Beijing, China

Chinese Contemporary Art Document Exhibition, Wall Art Museum, Beijing, China









Transfigurations, Sepia International Gallery, New York, U.S.A.

Ink Cutting-Edge 2007, Yanhuang Art Museum, Beijing, China  

SHE, 3818 Cool Gallery, Beijing, China

China under Construction: Contemporary Art from the People’s Republic, Deborah Colton Gallery, Houston, U.S.A.

Female Artists Show, Yanh Huang Art Museum, Beijing, China

Central Railway International Art Exhibition, Central Railway Art Camp, Beijing, China



          Chinese Contemporary Art Document Exhibition, China Millennium Monument Museum, Beijing, China







Chinese Character Art Exhibition, Beijing World Art Museum of China Millennium Monument, Beijing, China

Temperature: International Celebration of Andersen’s 200th Birthday Anniversary Chinese Contemporary Art Invitational Exhibition, Beijing World Art Museum of China Millennium Monument, Beijing, China; North Jutland Art Museum, Aalborg, Denmark

2002           Seven Day Landscape, Art Museum of Beijing International Art Center, Beijing, China


The Chinese Museum of Women and Children, Beijing, China

Chengdu Modern Art Museum, Chengdu, China

Long March Space, Beijing, China

Yan Huang Art Museum, Beijing, China

Fine Arts Literature Magazine, Wuhan, China


Last Updated: March 2016