ZHOU BROTHERS ART
WATER LILY POND OF LIFE
In 1973, Da Huang and Shan Zuo created their first collaborative work, an oil seascape depicting a small sailboat drifting away by the sea waves. This painting titled The Wave, was the beginning of a long and then unknown journey. For the next forty-two years, their signature collaborative process would unfold and mature into an international art phenomenon unifying the dichotomies of east and west, control and improvisation, as well as, spirit and life.
In 1978, during the end of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, the Zhou Brothers set out to create their first series titled Water Lily, consisting of one hundred unique works. In this series, they fused eastern painting with western modernist abstraction while combining oil and water painting techniques. In this harmonious unity, the Zhou Brothers grounded themselves into an ambitious trajectory that would take them across the globe.
Forty-two years after their first collaboration and numerous painting series, the Zhou Brothers reflect on their initial Water Lily series and infuse a new life into a legendary theme close to their heart. The Water Lily Pond of Life painting series brings them back to where it all began. Rather than a pursuit of east and west philosophies, the Zhou Brothers converge again to celebrate their Feeling is Liberty philosophy of art and life. Conquering the creative moment with every distinctive stroke, The Water Lily Pond of Life points to a new dichotomy of unity and balance bridging their past with their present.
FEELING IS LIBERTY
TIME: PORTRAIT OF HISTORY
The Zhou Brothers, the world renowned contemporary artists, will open their exhibition with their newest series of paintings titled “Time- Portrait of History”. On January 18, 2011, the artists unveiled at the White House their most historical painting “The eight US Presidents and the Great Wall” to the President Barack Obama, as a national gift to His Excellency Hu Jintao, the President of China, on the occasion of the state visit to the White House. This painting was the first time in the artists’ career where recognizable figures appear in their art. These figures are a stylistic representation of the eight American presidents who have governed since the opening of China’s relationship with the US by President Nixon in 1972. This rare honor instigated a refocusing of creative interest in the artists’ own personal history which triggered the shift in direction in their latest series.
A walk through history has a particular meaning to artists who have established an impressive carving into the world of contemporary art. Even more so is the case with the world-renowned artists the Zhou Brothers. They are as extraordinary as they are mysterious and while the Zhou Brothers are reaching enigmatic proportions we are taking a closer look at their artistic journey.
The life of the Zhou Brothers further unfolds to the viewer in a more revealing fashion at their new exhibition. These paintings open a new window into their past, by adding new figurative elements with recognizable features of the artists themselves, as a self-portrait of their lives. At this latest show the new paintings deepen the meaning of the Zhou Brothers vision and myth. And, like all myths, it will not reveal itself, it will only settle into our subconscious, leaving us wanting to know more about their art and lives.
The artist life of the Zhou Brothers is filled with legends that express their outstanding talent. Since their youth, their vigorous creative passion has kept them exploring and expanding, from Guangxi to Beijing, China to the world beyond. Their journey of collaboration on the modern art stage has been wonderfully diverse artistically, establishing their own reputation and their place in the international art world.
The start of modern art in China was difficult. During the opening reform era, with its influx of Western culture, the Zhou Brothers derived an artistic expression and form from the remains of ancient Chinese rock paintings. They also obtained enlightenment on the power of life. They have creatively transformed their native, traditional artistic background into their own artistic language, showing deep concern and for the human subject in their work. Using powerful visual structure and robust modeling, they derive insightful implications on the condition of man and nature, life and the universe that are like colorful symphonies. By expressing their idealistic yearning and unrestrained freedom, their distinctive personalities come to light.
The Zhou Brothers fuse the spirituality and ideography of Eastern art with the representation and abstraction of Western modern art in such a unique way that they have established a dialogue with mainstream art forms in the United States and the West, where they have gained widespread appreciation and praise through the past decades of their career. Moreover, as Chinese artists, their great contribution to international modern art has historical significance.
They are a pair of diligent inventors, persistently exploring beyond their previous achievements while continuously expanding their “artistic territory”. They use mixed media, based on their oil painting. They draw dynamics from an unconscious free expression, forming a framework filled with tension, overlapping figures and textures of layered expression that has grand and mysterious narrative features. They also expand planar forms into three-dimensional sculptures and spatial work, resulting in a rich artistic achievement.
In China, their art is still unknown to many people. Today, communication about international art is increasingly active. This exhibition in China that welcomes them back, provides an overview of their achievement, and brings the opportunity for China to get to know them and admire their work. As one of their old friends, I write this short introduction sincerely. The “Zhou style” becomes so distinct in their new work that it adds even more vivid light and luster, creating a lasting impression for the viewer.