SUPERSTITION, BLESSING, MODERNISM (ZHOU YILUN) | Side Gallery

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SUPERSTITION, BLESSING, MODERNISM

SUPERSTITION, BLESSING, MODERNISM

CC FOUNDATION & ART CENTRE
SHANGHAI
NOV 2020 - MAR 2021

The exhibition, focused on three independent keywords "Superstition, Blessing, Modernism", presents the new body of "magical" paintings by the artist that is accompanied by a set of sculptures. Semantically deconstructing and parodying iconography and re-interrogating modernist painting in the context of globalized consumerism, the artist hopes to bless the viewer with "superstition" in his work of it.

The concept originated from his personal experience with him: one day he was lucky at a poker game with friends. I attributed his good luck to a painting he bought that day. In fact, Zhou is not religious, but he believes in the agency of specific patterns and symbols, although they have no practical functions, they are beautiful and magical, empowering people with spiritual comfort. Therefore, the theme that stands out in each painting is a rosary. The rosary blesses the event depicted in the backgrounds, whether it be two lovers embracing, or a pleasant vacation, or a comfortable office, or beautiful nature, or traditional art, or a modernist design, or folklore, or a religious ceremony.

In the exhibition, nine paintings are spaced, forming a ring around five cylindrical sculptures in homage to Brancusi. Meanwhile, the ring compositions in the paintings are in response to the towering sculptural columns in the center of the exhibition space to evoke an energetic ritualistic site of "superstition." Zhou's paintings continue his idiosyncratic style as well as his whimsical imagery to draw the viewer into his mysterious narratives. The skeleton, an ominous motif that appears frequently in recent Zhou paintings, is simply consumed as decoration by the artist. Perhaps not only does it allude to the inevitable tragic end of Modernism, but it also testifies to a characteristic of Italian art The "non-expressionism" of the historian GermanoCelant (1940-2020) in contemporary art, where artists appropriate various signs and symbols but empty its connotations.


Modernism was associated with utopian views of human life, as well as the belief in self-criticism and progress. Aesthetically, he rejected the sculptural illusion or trompe l'oeil in painting. Flatness and abstraction became the dominant styles in the early 20th century in the West. Zhou reviews trompe l'oeil devices and the integration of sculptural elements into painting by depicting balls and rosaries to create visual illusions. Sometimes he places objects directly on the pictorial surface.

Zhou's research on the historical realm of Modernism is not without cynicism. His questioning of the problematic notion of "primitivism" is a perfect example. Modernists, such as Picasso, Gauguin and Matisse, "invented" primitivism to authorize themselves as connoisseurs of collecting and categorizing the marginalized, minority, forgotten and displaced, cultures and popular arts with colonial attitudes. Zhou appropriates this notion, but instead of recreating the inferior and less refined experience of the Others, he teaches himself how to design and make his own vernacular, improvised and eccentric DIY furniture / sculptures to dismantle hierarchies of taste and embrace visceral ones. pleasure in creativity.

In our contemporary age, capitalism, technology, and consumerism have turned out to have metamorphosed artistic production and visual culture. In his 2008 essay The American Tornado, Celant reflects on the proliferation of art as luxury decorative products and the demise of critical art: “What was the result of thought and analysis, both critical and aesthetic, and offered a vision of future developments has become an object whose only positive outcome is an entity that can be discussed solely in terms of money ... [This object is now] organized into the expanded chain of museums, some of which pursued growth to become the Disneyland of the visual realm. "