Local artist presents family-friendly show

Writer: Li Dan   |  Editor: Zhang Chanwen  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2022-09-27

Visitors stand amid exhibits at local artist Zhou Yuan’s solo exhibition at Hall C, Art Museum, Guangming Culture and Art Center on Saturday afternoon. Li Dan 

The word “porcelain” often elicits such images as an elegant vase, an exquisite teapot or a priceless antique bowl dating back to ancient times. Unlike the regular pottery and porcelain pieces you see at a museum, the exhibits in an ongoing show at the Art Museum, Guangming Culture and Art Center are efforts of a contemporary expression via this ancient medium.

Hall C on the fifth floor of the venue was crowded Saturday afternoon with fans and families who took their young for a taste of art education, where local artist Zhou Yuan’s solo exhibition “One Falls Another Rises” is being held.

The pottery and porcelain artworks created by Zhou Yuan are on display. Photos courtesy of the organizers

The pottery and porcelain artworks created by Zhou Yuan are on display.

The pottery and porcelain artworks created by Zhou Yuan are on display.

The show features pottery and porcelain pieces as well as magazine-size ink paintings, most of which feature exaggerated human faces and bodies. Unlike regular art exhibitions in which each exhibit is labeled with detailed information of the name, time of creation, materials used or even a bit of interpretation of the work, this show curated by Gao Jiangbo doesn’t provide any details of the works on display, instead leaving everything open to interpretation by the audience.

When compared with ink paintings that have undergone substantial transformation in techniques and expression since the late 20th century and where abstract paintings become an undeniable force, represented by such artists as Liu Guosong and Zhou Shaohua, pottery and porcelain art has typically remained rather true to its traditions. Contemporary artists who have experimented with pottery and porcelain works often feel compelled to explain their motive of using the traditional medium to create their works; that attitude makes Zhou’s bold endeavors noteworthy.

At the entrance of the exhibition, the first exhibit greeting the visitor is a small head statue that is the caricature of the artist himself, with a big hole and a circular black wire at the position where there should be an ear. This immediately strikes the visitor as a vivid interpretation of the Chinese catchphrase “脑洞大开” (meaning “thinking out of the box”).

Except for a few pieces of pottery and porcelain works that mimic a rockery or a gourd, many other large pieces take the form of a minimalist head with features and expressions barely recognizable. Inspired by emojis, these installations remind people of the world we are living in today, where each person hides behind a smartphone or computer screen and the emojis they usually send are just ceremonial and don’t really tell you about their authentic feelings.

On a wall are hung more than 100 pieces of magazine-size ink paintings, most of which feature human faces that are reminiscent of the works of such modern artists as Edvard Munch and Henri Matisse. These, according to Zhou, reflect his personal sensations and those “aha” moments he had after each day’s work and life, particularly when he practiced meditation before bedtime.

A series named “Smiley Cartoons” features familiar animation images such as Baymax and Kaws’ signature Bearbrick, only all the figurines have big smiles on their faces. Another series titled “Body Without Organs” present the human body in such an abstract way that the works get people to question about the conflict between one’ mind and body.

Born in 1976 in Guangdong, Zhou was professionally trained as an interior designer, and came to Shenzhen in 2000 to establish a successful career. In 2013, he was named one of the top 50 CIID (China Interior Design) young Chinese designers.

During the height of his career, Zhou started to question the meaning of his life and decided to start all over again as an artist. In 2014, Zhou attended an MA program at the Chelsea College of Art and Design, University of the Arts London and began creating porcelain works and paintings. He returned to Shenzhen a year later and opened his gallery Bananajam Space in 2016, where he creates art and houses visiting artists from all parts of the world.

The exhibition is arranged in such a way that there are little surprises to be noted when you visit in person.

Dates: Until Nov. 29

Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Booking: WeChat account “GCACArtMuseum”

Venue: Hall C, 5/F, Art Museum, Guangming Culture and Art Center, Guangming District (光明区光明文化艺术中心美术馆5楼C展厅)

Metro: Line 6 to Fenghuang Town Station (凤凰城站), Exit B