September 04 - October 21, 2022
How Museum (Shanghai, China)
Artwork © Zhou Song. Photo: How Museum
Zhou Song’s artistic practice goes beyond the boundaries of traditional media, deconstructs fragments of everydayness through a logical mind and humanistic vision, and reconstructs a universe that transcends the dailiness and is teeming with hidden profundity and implications. In Zhou’s works, both his paintings and sculptures, the forms and contents are always mutually reinforcing each other. Through the sharply vivid visual images, the artist inquires into the very essence of human beings and virtually everything, and then subverts viewers’ fixed impression of art, inspiring them to reflect from a more macroscopic perspective. Inflating Universe, Zhou Song’s new solo exhibition, investigates the living environment of the contemporary times through art and probes into social issues that are of universal significance. The exhibition features a selection of works from the Inflating series and Strawberry series, two of the most significant series in Zhou’s practice. The two series, from different periods of his artistic career, demonstrate his continuous exploration in the field of art. From hyper-realism to surrealism, Zhou Song constantly transcends and breaks through the boundaries of images, giving new interpretations to the superposition of works. In the Inflating series in particular, it can be perceived that the use of alien-shaped frames has been brought into play to the ultimate extreme. The Inflating series, in a sense, could be reckoned as a contemporary version of Stories to Awaken the World, a Chinese story anthology compiled in the 17th century. In his sharply humorous manner, Zhou Song manages to confine the subject within the geometric frame, leaving it to inflate infinitely and in the meantime imposing restraints upon it. As a result, tension and confrontation could be intuitively sensed from within the calmness and serenity on the surface. Bodies and objects that have inflated to the point of deformation form a metaphor of infinite desires and the growth process of all things. The surreal changes on the surface are in fact a reflection of humanity; while the forms that seem about to break through the boundaries but are in fact under restraints mirror the contradictory realities that all individuals are faced with in society. Moreover, by the combination of animal and human figures and geometric abstraction of fruits and plants, the artist probes further into the relationships and possibilities of mutual symbiosis and remodeling between human beings and the nature. From a cosmological perspective, inflation is at the core of universe evolution; in other words, it’s the law of development of all things. In a finite time and space, different species encounter and interact with each other within the infinite universe, casting light on the artist’s signature romantic temperament that forms an intriguing contrast with his meticulous and rigorous approaches. Visually speaking, the bold images strike a riveting balance with the alien-shaped frames. The strong senses of exaggeration and narrativity leave viewers with enormous room for reflection, while the interplay of rich colors and virtual reality further opens up people’s imagination towards the work. The Strawberry series is a recent series the artist works on, but it’s origin could be traced back to the early days of Zhou’s practice. In the early stage of Zhou Song’s practice, strawberry already appeared on his oil on canvas in a surrealistic manner. Gazing closely at it, viewers would feel as if they were witnessing its gradual decay over time. The delicately red strawberry symbolized a beating heart, full of desires and yet too fragile to stand a single blow. The highly realistic brush strokes brought viewers with a sense of experience beyond the painting itself. What the artist intends to convey through the work is under constant development and exuberant with new vitality as time goes by. Sculptural works based on the strawberry transform the two-dimensional hyper-realistic image into the three dimensional for new and surreal expressive possibilities. The metallic surface inspires viewers to associate it with machinery and cyborg. The seemingly flowing but in fact frozen strawberry juice echoes the brand new relationship between nature and technology in this era. In a decentralized world, the relationships among nature, human beings and technology are extensively and profoundly explored in Zhou Song’s work. Human beings are no longer the center of the world. We are both the spectators and the players; we are the consumers existing on the circular chain of the universe. In Inflating Universe, Zhou Song proposes a playful yet philosophical reflection upon the era we live in; and accordingly, viewers get a chance to reconsider the reality as well as the self from a new perspective.