Movement: Hyperrealism; Neo-Expressionism
Education: Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts; Kassel Academy of Fine Arts
“In 1971, Cheng Conglin and I would go to the Chengdu Municipal Library every Sunday. Our aim was to find art materials from abroad; we wanted to understand just what was going on in the international art scene. We couldn’t find anything though. The art section of the library only had books from the Soviet Union. We didn’t have any inkling about the Impressionisms, Van Gogh, Picasso or any other international artists.”
"I did not seek to understand it from the angle of the materials' properties and patterns of imagery like a Chinese painter; instead, I followed my expressive intent to find things that felt unfamiliar and might bring surprises. I exerted a lot of energy on surfaces and texture, obsessively capturing and ruminating on the natural properties and visual elements of the rocks."
Zhou Chunya's Famous Artworks
"The Passion of Love," 1998
"Green Dog," 2007
"Gentle Wind Light Cloud," 2008
"Flower Story," 2008
"Peach Blossom (details)," 2010
"Peach Blossoms," 2014
Zhou Chunya is a contemporary Chinese Expressionist painter, best known for his “Green Dog” series, though the majority of his work focuses on rural scenes and the majesty of nature. His work
often features figures without a surrounding environment or nature scenes devoid of human beings.
Zhou Chunya's Early Life
Zhou Chunya was born in 1955 in the city of Chongqing in southwest China
. He enrolled at the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts to study painting in the late 1970s and graduated in 1982. The current trend in traditional Chinese art at the time was to generate hyper-realistic compositions that drew on the experiences of country folk, resulting in a faction known as the Rural Realists. Although Zhou was an active participant in the movement in the early years of his career, traveling through Tibet in the mid-1980s created a fundamental shift in his artistic direction, with Zhou engaging with the land to make a connection between the physical and spiritual planes.
Having spent the majority of the 1980s experimenting with form and technique, in 1988 he left China to join the department of experimental art in Germany’s Kassel Academy of Fine Arts. During this time, he became intrigued by the frenetic energy of the Neo-Expressionist movement — finding the incorporation of political ideology and social comment in installation and performance art especially revelatory. Upon his return to Sichuan after completing his studies, his art featured more animated and emotive elements.
Zhou Chunya's Career
In the early 1990s, Zhou began work on the most famous of his series, “Green Dog”, modeled upon his German Shepherd, Heigen. Over the following decade, the artist used the symbol of his pet animal to explore themes of uncertainty, isolation and the immutable distance between people. Unfortunately, Heigen died in 1999, perhaps from poisoning, and a heart-broken Zhou refused to return to his easel for over a year.
In the recent past, he has exhibited in galleries around the world with solo exhibitions at the Dornach-Auhof Cultural Center in Linz, Austria and the Chaney Family Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas.
He lives and works in his hometown of Chongqing, preferring the tranquility of Sichuan to the fast-paced urbanity of Beijing. Art lovers can buy Zhou Chunya's artworks online
Zhou Chunya's Museums / Galleries
Shanghai Gallery of Art, Shanghai
National Art Museum, Beijing
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA
Dornach-Auh of Culture Center, Linz, Austria
Sino-German Friendship Association, Dusseldorf, Germany
Books / Publications
“Zhou Chunya,” by Zhou Chunya and Hong Lei
“Zhou Chunya,” by Luisa Rotondi Secchi Tarugi
“Zhou Chunya/Zeng Fanzhi/Ji Dachun,” by Lu Peng and Zhao Tingyang
“The Art of Modern China,” by Julia F. Andrews and Kuiyi Shen