Zhou Tiehai


Zhou Tiehai
b. 1966, Shanghai
Artist
Zhou Tiehai graduated from the School of Fine Arts at Shanghai University in 1987. His career took off after his first solo show, ‘Too Materialistic, Too Spiritualized’, opened at the Gallery of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1996 (see art academies). While Chinese critics were bemoaning the hegemonic power of Western cultural practices in China, Zhou frankly declared his acceptance of the trend. He created large gouaches on paper, reminiscent of the big character posters of the Cultural Revolution, in order to comment on the complex psychology of coming to terms with the Western art system as Chinese artists pursued success and fame for themselves. He even created a series of montages for the covers of well-known international magazines as an exercise in unabashed boosterism. Intentionally and without irony, Zhou’s appropriation and manipulation of images coldly deconstruct the aura of Western contemporary art as an industry sustained, like any commercial venture, by a systemic consensus created between curators, institutions, the market and the media. Seemingly uncritical appropriations are indeed Zhou’s distinctive trait, exploited to the full in his prints, gouaches and, more recently, airbrushed compositions. In these works he exposes the power of the powerful, from movie stars to Chinese and Western icons recurrent in our visual library. Zhou’s works have been widely exhibited at home and abroad, including the exhibition ‘Cities on the Move’ that toured Europe and the USA between 1997 and 1999; the Venice Biennale in 1999; and a solo show at the Hara Museum in Japan in 2000.
De Matté, Monica (1999). ‘Zhou Tiehai’. In d’Apertutto Aperto Over All (exhibition catalogue). Marsilio: La Biennale di Venezia, 272–3.
Pi, Li (2001). ‘Dangdai yishu bushi anweiyao’ [Contemporary Art is Not a Placebo]. Diancang [Art and Collecting] 107:40–4.
Szeemann, Harald (2000). ‘Zhou Tiehai’. In John Clark (ed.), Chinese Art at the End of the Millennium. Hong Kong: New Art Media, 246–7. [Reprinted in Zhou Tiehai (exhibition catalogue). Tokyo: Hara Museum of Contemporary Art]
Tasch, Stephanie (2000). ‘Zhou Tiehai: The Artist as a Young Man—Ambivalent’. In John Clark (ed.), Chinese Art at the End of the Millennium. Hong Kong: New Art Media, 248–9.
TANG DI

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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