Zhao Yao’s work inhabits the dichotomies of ancient and modern that has disrupted Chinese life since the Cultural Revolution. With a background in graphic design, his work seems part of a Western abstract tradition but also freighted with symbolism: the use of denim, a material idealized for proletariat durability in the West, is a reminder of 1980’s Chinese fashion; seemingly enigmatic geometric patterns are derived from brain–teaser puzzles.