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Chunya Zhou

 (born 1955)
Chunya Zhou is active/lives in China.  Chunya Zhou is known for traditional and neo-expressionist painting and sculpture.

Chunya Zhou

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Chunya Zhou
Zhou Chunya is a contemporary painter and sculptor known for related works in two- and three dimensions. His colorful art is an mix of traditional Chinese painting and German Neo-Expressionism, to which he was exposed during his graduate school days in Germany.  Zhou, born in 1955, currently lives and works in Chengdu, China, where he is Deputy Director of the Chengdu Academy of Fine Arts.

Zhou graduated from the Department of Painting at the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts in 1982.  At that time Chinese artists drawn to the lives of ordinary country people--and often rendering them in a hyper-realistic style--became known as the Rural Realists, a movement in which Zhou briefly participated.  A trip to Tibet in the mid 1980s engaged Zhou who became a pioneer painter of Tibetan pastoral scenes linking themes of nature and spirituality.  Historian and critic Lv Peng describes him as a representative of "The New Generation of Tibetans."  

After six years of artistic experimentation, he began in 1988 to pursue graduate studies at the Experimental Art Department of the Kassel Academy of Fine Arts in Germany.  While there, Zhou took in the exuberant, even frenetic art of the Neo-Expressionists of the 1980s.  He recalls, "In Germany, I saw with my own eyes the fully prosperous period of the new expressionism.  There is the most avant-garde Kassel Documenta exhibition.  It was my first time to see the performance art [sic,] instillation art, and political art expressed in pictures." As a result of his time abroad, Zhou began incorporating vibrant, emotive elements into his paintings.

 He is often described as very down to earth and, according to Huang Liaoyuan, "an emotional artist, true to his own feelings, not pretentious and keeps normal and natural attitude in life. [sic]"  Others describe him as intelligent and skillful, engaging difficult themes with ease.
Zhou Chunya's work falls into several distinct periods: That of Rustic Realism, the new Tibetan painters, and Expressionistic canvases that followed his time in Germany. Zhou met the opening up of Chinese art and society, his subsequent, serial exposures to new forms of expression with open arms. He attempted to fuse these radically different elements into a new and synthetic whole that coupled  Chinese motifs with emotive expressionism.  Artist Ye Yongqing describes Zhou as a man "searching to mix Chinese way of expression with the Western spirit of questioning and revolt." 

Following the death of his dog, Zhou began to paint peach blossoms in appreciation of the value and beauty of life.  Watching the flowers blossom in spring, he was deeply moved by their "flirtatious" energy and vigor.  This led to a series of peach blossom expressing the primitive desire of human beings and the theme of "sex and emotion." Bright red, sinuously shaped men embrace pink women, which Zhou heatedly describes: "In a fluid emotion and mood of colors, flows indulgence of primitive and sincere imaginations.  It is the total release of human nature against a grand scene, an explosion of gentle violence!"  In his fusion of delicate flowers and unbridled human passion, Zhou couples traditionally modest Chinese subjects and modern, more liberal attitudes to sexuality.

In addition to his artistic accomplishments, Zhou serves as a council member of the Chinese Oil Painting Society, Vice President of the Sichuan Association of Fine Arts, Director of the Committee of the Art of Oil Paintings, and Vice President and Deputy Direct of the Chengdu Association of Fine Arts.

Zhou has presented his work throughout China since his 1981 participation in a group exhibition at the National Art Museum in Beijing. In 1987, he made his international debut with his first solo exhibitions at the Dornach-Anhof Culture Center in Linz, Austria, and the Sino-German Friendship Association in Dusseldorf, Germany.  His work was recently shown in the exhibition of the Chaney Family Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas, in 2007.


Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for Chunya Zhou
Selected Exhibitions & Awards
    •    2006 Zhou Chunya, Zeng Fanzhi and Ji Dachun, Longrun Art, Beijing, China Zhou Chunya, Three on the Bund, Shanghai, China
    •    2005 Focus on China, WBK Vrije Academie Den Haan, Holland BIENNALE INTERNATIONAL D, Art Contemporain Chinois de Montpellier, France
    •    2004 Dreaming of Dragon''s Nation, Contemporary Art Exhibition from China, Irish MOMA, Ireland Living in Chengdu, Chinese Contemporary Oil Painting, Shenzhen Art Museum, China New Works by Liu Wei, Zheng ZaiDong, Zhou Chunya, Shanghai Gallery of Art, Three on the Bund
    •    2003 Alors, La China Centre Pompidou, Paris, France Six Marks of the Paintbrush, Gallery Miejska Arsenal, Pozna
    •    2002 Green Dogs, 314 International Art Centre Bergen, Norway The First GuangzhouTriennial Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China Zhou Chunya, Museum of Art Modern Contemporary, Trento, Italy
    •    2001 Towards a new Image, National Art Museum Beijing, Shanghai Art Museum, Sichuan Art Museum, Guangdong Art Museum, China
    •    1999 Liberation, Chinese Contemporary, London, England ,China, Limn Gallery, San Francisco, CA
    •    1998 Green Dog & Masters, Chinese Contemporary, London, England
    •    1997 The Works of Zhou Chunya, Taipei Nothern Banker Art & Culture Art Gallery, Taipei, China The Nature of Portraiture: Zhou Chunya & Mao Yan, CIFA Gallery, Central Academy of Fine Arts Beijing, China Red & Gray, 8 Avant Garde Chinese Artists, Singapore Quotation Marks, Chinese Contemporary Paintings, Singapore Art Museum Singapore
    •    1994 The Works of Zhou Chunya, Taipei, China
    •    1987 The Works of Zhou Chunya, Dusseldorf, Germany Zhou Chunya Invitational Exhibition, Linz, Austria

Joyce Gallery

Biography from Tobin Reese Fine Art
Zhou Chunya (1955-) is a contemporary Chinese painter and sculptor. He currently resides in Chengdu.

Zhou was born in Chongqing, Sichuan, China. He got his artistic start in the 1970s drawing propaganda posters for Chairman Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution. This initial encounter with art led him to studies at the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts after the Cultural Revolution ended; he graduated in 1982. He spent the next six years figuring out his artistic style; unable to find his niche, he moved to Germany in order to pursue studies at the Kassel Academy of Fine Arts. Previously, he had held his first international solo exhibitions there in 1987 and was captivated by the country's differences with his native China. In Germany, he encountered Neo-Expressionism for the first time, a style that would dominate his works; his works became much more lively after his time in Germany. After completing his studies, he returned to China, settling in Chengdu.

Although Zhou has had many periods of transformation throughout his career, he is perhaps best known for two series: Green Dog and Peach Blossom. In the Green Dog series, he paints a green dog in the foreground of the art, its exuberance overshadowing the despair of the often less vibrant background material. He was inspired by his own German Shepherd, Heigen, and when Heigen passed away, he went into a period of mourning for a year in which he did not paint. After this period, he turned to painting peach blossoms. After the death of his dog, the blossom can be seen to symbolize rebirth, perhaps directly referencing Zhou's exit from his period of mourning. He also returned to his dog as the subject of his art, producing more in the Green Dog series.

Currently, Zhou is a respected member of the artistic community in Chengdu, opting not to move to a more populated city. He was the subjected of a retrospective in 2010 at the Shanghai Gallery of Art where 30 years of his artwork was exhibited. In the same year, he was also honored as one of Martell's Artists of the Year in Beijing. He is currently a council member of the Chinese Oil Painting Society.

Ian Martyn for Tobin Reese Fine Art

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About  Chunya Zhou

Born:  1955 - Chongquing, Sichuan Province, China
Known for:  traditional and neo-expressionist painting and sculpture