• Zhong Cheng 2016 Autumn Auction「Morden And Contemporary Art」
    • Download


    ZHOU CHUNYA(b.1955)

    Small Scenes in Shanghai Yuyuan Garden, No. 2


    Oil on Canvas

    Dated 2013, signed Zhou Chunya in Chinese and English

    Estimate TWD 28,000,000-36,000,000
    USD 894,600-1,150,200
    HKD 0-0

    Hammer Price TWD 31,840,000
    USD 995,311
    HKD 7,690,821


Illustrated:ILLUSTRATED: "2013 Art Changsha - Zhou Chunya," Hunan Fine Art Publishing House, Hunan China, 2013, Page 51

Exhibition:EXHIBITION: 1. "2013 The 4th Art Changsha Exhibition," Changsha Museum, Hunan China, October 19 - November 18, 2013 2. "Living in Chengdu," Kuandu Museum of Fine Art, Taipei Taiwan, December 26, 2014 - February 15, 2015


“I find it particularly interesting to borrow from the Chinese symbols, subjects and brushwork. I am trying to find a path that distinguishes itself from the Western and traditional Chinese art. This is my initial intention.” 
- Zhou Chunya

A Pioneer of Art with Relentless Determination

Decades of innovation and transformation made the works of Chinese contemporary artist, Zhou Chunya, much sought-after among internationally renowned art institutions and collectors. He has also been invited to major exhibitions around the world, while incessantly promotes arts education and charity. His career spans through several different stages following Cultural Revolution. He went through Scar Art, Nativist Painting, 85 New Wave Art Movement, and in the late 1990s, he transformed again with works such as Taihu Lake Stone, Green Dog and Peach Blossoms. His style continues to evolve, and successfully combines the traditional elements in Chinese literati paintings with Expressionism of the West. This is why he is acclaimed as “the Chinese contemporary artist with the most masterful use of colors”. As Chen Haoxing, Director of Macau Museum of Art states, “As a master of contemporary Chinese art, not only is Zhou Chunya’s attitude toward tradition admirable, but also the inner world he created by fusing the use of colors in the West and the literati landscape from China. The outcome is powerful, which will be touching for the local artists. There is so much to learn from our tradition, which is magnificent. Tradition can still offer elements of an utterly modern piece.” Zhou is now among artists with the most recognition and attention. 

Uncharted Path beyond the Boundary of Art 

Zhou was born in Chungqing in 1955. His higher education and rigorous training in painting started in Sichuan Academy of Fine Art since 1978, a time when he practiced sketching and color landscape profusely and a time when the first transformation in Zhou’s career took place. Years later when Zhou looked back at this period, he mentioned that he already started pondering the essence of painting itself. “Many of my works from that period are seemingly studies. In fact, they are not merely a study of techniques, but creative lexicons.” Though they were studies, the style, technique and composition presented on the paper are distinct and profound, giving a comprehensive display of the artist’s personality. 

While studying in Kassel Academy of Fine Art in Germany in the late 1980s, Zhou was introduced to the world of form and colors. German expressionism nurtured him and initiated the second transformation in his style. The contemporary and the traditional, the east and the west, the contrast heightened his sensitivity. He absorbed and reinvented from his experiences in life, and everything came to fruition in his works at a later period. The fluidity and boundlessness in Taihu Lake Stone, Mountain Stones, and Flowers are brilliant exemplification of interpreting the literati ink gradation and shade rendering of the East with the oil color techniques from the West. 

The Green Dog and Cherry Blossom Series in 1997 marked Zhou’s third transformation, a time when he expressed his inner emotions through the landscape and the objects within while exploring the capricious and experimental lexicons. Italian curator, Monica Dematté described Zhou, “Like the great painters of the past, he longs for a ‘natural’, true and clean expression in his paintings, portraying complexity and power with a few simple strokes.” Changing his artistic lexicons several times, Zhou’s passion exudes in the pursuit toward “exploring the essence of life with concepts and lexicons”. 

After going through three transformations in the past few decades, Zhou underwent the fourth in 2013. He learned from the Four Wangs and the Four Monk Masters from the Ming and Qing Dynasties, as well as the gardens of Suzhou and Yangzhou. The stones, trees and pavilions are his nostalgic laments over a bygone era. Drawing from his life, he delineates the remnants of landscape and gardens as an outlet for his memory. The colors intertwine, the structure trembles and condenses. Echoing, they create a distancing effect, and rediscover the yearning and imagination toward the magnificent beauty of nature within the reminiscence. The image charms the viewers and places them directly back into the context and texture of a space from the distant past. 
Glittering Light and Shadow Replete with Resplendent Emotions

Yuyuan Garden is also known as the urban mountain forest in Shanghai. The meticulous and ingenious planning and design is evident in how the garden is landscaped. The jewels of the garden, such as Yangshan Hall, the Grand Rockery, and the Currow ancient stone triggered infinite imagination in Zhou’s mind. He once remarked, “When completing the Garden Series, indeed, my mind had to remain more peaceful. The paintings had to be developed based on the objects, and I put more thoughts on how to approach the grass, tree branches and flowers, including the brushwork, shade and structure.” The garden and the pavilions, though from the by gone days, have transcended beyond the reality and prompted Zhou to leave out the scrupulous details without hesitation when painting and copying the old masterpieces, highlighting the poetic texture that synthesizes the lexicons of oil painting and the literati landscape.  

Small Scenes in Shanghai Yuyuan Garden, No.2 was completed in 2013. With bold colors, Zhou creates an aloof sense of mystique. The composition is liberal with scatter point perspective, compressing scenes from the garden into independent and yet connected frames. The masses of rendering in purple expound the layers of rugged stones in elaborate and stunning tones. Precise and dynamic brushstrokes weave the stones in Small Scenes in Shanghai Yuyuan Garden, No.2 between the forms and the entire image like air. The composition, solemn and rotund, makes the image in Yuyuan resemble tightly compacted slabs. The condensed and cropped form transcends the existential sense of the objects, giving the image a mysterious and symbolic atmosphere. 

Zhou chooses the gardens and pavilions from a distant past as the subject, trying to transform the scenery into art. In the constant deconstructing and restructuring, he tries to create conflicting visual aesthetics distinctive from the landscape in reality. Small Scenes in Shanghai Yuyuan Garden, No.2 exudes Zhou’s signature oil painting techniques in the way he borrows from the Chinese literati paintings. His love for and perception of the classic gardens are also palpable in the implicit expression of his own sense of aesthetics in the use of Pointillism, outlining and rendering. Zhou once said, “In my art and my life, ‘truthfulness’ is very important. The so-called ‘truthfulness’ refers to our human nature, temperament and desire. Such nature transcends time, institution and boundaries. All human beings have his or her own temperament and tendencies, like nature, which develops along its inherent qualities and rhythm. In other words, the essence of art, human and nature are closely related.” The historic gardens and rocks are manifested in a genteel and subtle sense that is conceptual and unlike the classic gardens. This is the manifestation of the change in Zhou’s temperament. It is also the result of a powerful force from the subjective landscaping over objective imageries, which evolves into a reverse practice of artistic lexicons against the natural tendencies of the objects. 

Solitary Voice of Spirituality with Grandeur and Splendor 

Zhou Chunya spoke of the pillars that support him as an artist, “To me, painting is not a mentality, but a conviction, which is in line with the sense of time, history and life. The act of painting imbues true value and meaning to my ideal. Therefore, I gave it everything I have, and all my attentions. One’s life is limited, and one way to strengthen it is to extend the life of art within this limited lifetime. Holding exhibitions in schools and communicating with students are attempts to return to the beginning, where art lies within.” Such liberating impulse exemplifies Zhou, who embodies both the dynamic and the static, the extrovert and the introvert, projecting his rich emotions, mixed with a maturing mindset that still holds on to a passionate beginning.    

Chinese art critic Yin Shuangxi once said, “Zhou cleverly combines the images from classic landscape paintings of the Song and Yuan Dynasties with the Western style of framing the scene. The result transcends cultural geography, history and culture, placing the viewers back in the fantasy-like heaven and earth of the primal universe.” Zhou merges Western techniques and realistic presentations to adapt to modern creations, which is complex and yet consistent. Meanwhile, the truthful splendor that lies deep within his art is ever so real and yet so magical and glorious, enlivening his works with depth and richness.

View More Works