Details & Cataloguing

Modern and Contemporary Chinese Art


Zhou Chunya
signed in Pinyin and Chinese and dated 2010, framed
oil on canvas
279.5 by 197.5 cm.; 110 by 77¾ in.
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Private Collection, China


Hong Lei ed., Zhou Chunya, Timezone 8, Beijing, China, 2010, p. 547

Catalogue Note

In stark contrast with his contemporaries, Zhou Chunya is arguably the earliest artist to have experimented with merging and disrupting the traditions of contemporary and traditional art, as well as those of the East and West. To do a comprehensive survey of his creative style – from the resolute and powerful Mountain Rock, to the primitive vitality of Green Dog, the sensual and nude Red Figure, and the passionate romance of Peach Blossoms– is to witness the free and unrestrained hand that Zhou exercises across various subjects. The establishment of Zhou's style can be traced back to his studies in Germany from 1986 to 1989, when his artistry was refined and cultivated. There, Zhou was exposed to the European revival of easel painting, to which he fused the images and vocabulary of traditional Chinese paintings as well as the passion of German neo-expressionism. At the same time, he drew from the techniques of Yuan dynasty painting and the nativist style practiced by some of his contemporaries in creating his own unique style of "freehand-expressionism."

The 2010 Peach Blossoms (Lot 20) is a masterpiece from Zhou's Peach Blossom series. Upon a canvas of impressive size, a fully blooming spring peach blossom surges forward, against the contrast of a perfect, azure sky. Exuding their symbolic allure, the peach blossoms – next to the clear creek and open field, the romance of spring abuzz in the air – overwhelm the viewer with charm and provocation. Peach Blossoms is a prime display of the artist's masterful fusion of Western expressionism and the qualities of Eastern literati art. In traditional Chinese painting, peach blossoms are symbols of the feminine and the delicate, and of desire. Zhou once expressed that the inspiration for his painting of peach blossoms came from his third wife, Shuang Shuang. He acknowledged that the image of the blossoms contained direct sexual connotations. According to the artist, "My paintings are all related to passion and romance. Desire is a component of being human, it's something innate. More importantly, our feelings and desire towards sex are a manifestation of vitality, and they symbolise a life in flourish." 

Modern and Contemporary Chinese Art