Society from above: Perspective in Chinese artist Zhou Jinhua’s paintings – Schoeni video interview

By illustrating the demise of the weak, Chinese painter Zhou Jinhua explores power inequalities in Chinese society.

A video interview produced by Hong Kong’s Schoeni Art Gallery examines Zhou’s pairing of traditional Chinese painting with aerial photography, exploring how he uses this technique to highlight the social and political meanings behind his work.

A native of Sichuan province, Zhou Jinhua has been studying Chinese society from a bird’s eye perspective since 2002. This view, he explains, provides the distance needed to “understand what’s going on.” Zhou is interested in “the weakness and vulnerability of pre-destined human life”; through his paintings and drawings, he attempts to illustrate the challenges of a society in which the strong and weak cannot be balanced.

Art Radar has covered other videos in this Schoeni Art Gallery interview series. Click here to view them all.

Upon graduating from the Oil Painting Department of the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, Zhou continued working with his signature aerial perspective technique. In 2005, Schoeni Art Gallery held his first solo exhibition, “Spotty Series“. For the series, Zhou studied the relationship between an individual’s identity and that of humanity. “From above, you detach yourself from [the] context. You become conscious of [the individual’s] challenges and start questioning what you are doing. You feel completely isolated,” he says.

Zhou Jinhua, 'No.1', "Spotty Series", 2007, painting, 1450 x 1100 mm.

Zhou Jinhua, ‘No.1’, “Spotty Series”, 2007, painting, 1450 x 1100 mm.

For his third exhibition, held in 2011 and titled “Destiny“, Zhou expanded his study of individual identity by documenting the 2008-2010 forced evictions of ageing China’s residential neighbourhoods. Instead of using canvas, Zhou painted the lives of the local Chinese citizens on stone remnants that he collected from the demolition sites. “If the audience is presented with the real objects, they can immediately understand the message,” he explains.

Art Radar has covered other videos in this Schoeni Art Gallery interview series. Click here to view them all.

More on Zhou Jinhua

Born in Deyang City, Sichuan, in 1978, Zhou studied at the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in Chongqing. Since his graduation in 2002, Zhou has held over thirty exhibitions, ten of which have been solo exhibitions. His most notable shows include the 2009 “Everything Was Going Well, Until the Unexpected Happened” at Kunstverein Konstanz Museum in Konstanz, Germany and the 2010 “Absurd Reality” at Gallery 100 in Taipei, Taiwan. Zhou’s most recent solo exhibition was titled “Dreamy Reality” at Nou Gallery in Taipei and ended on 2 June 2013. A finalist for the Sovereign Asian Art Prize in 2007, Zhou is represented by Schoeni Art Gallery.

This article was written by a participant in our art writing diploma programme. Do you want to write for Art Radar, too? Click here to find out more about our Diploma in Art Journalism & Writing.

Letitia Chai

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Related Topics: Chinese artists, painting, video interviews with artists

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