Zhou Chunya who currently lives and works in Chengdu, Sichuan China, was born in 1955 in Chongqing. Trained as a propaganda poster painter in the early 1970s during the Cultural Revolution, Zhou graduated the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts in 1982 and completed his master’s program at the University of Kassel in Germany. The artist is best known for his colorful “Green Dog” series of paintings, depicting his beloved German Shepherd, Hei Gen (“Black Root”). However, his repertoire also includes colorful expressionistic series of figures, landscapes, and flowers. The artist has had numerous shows around the world and was also awarded Martell’s 2010 Artist of the Year.
Zhou is most famous for his Green Dogs series. It wasn’t just German Neo-Expressionism that inspired him, but his German Shepherd, Heigen. The dog became his chief subject for more than ten years. Zhou describes the green dog as a sort of symbolic self portrait. He interprets the background as a field of uncertainty, loneliness, and distance between people, while the dogs express a wide variety of emotions. He says, “[The Green Dog’s] image and situation project my cultural characters and my circumstance of reality in life.” Sadly, in 1999, Heigen died, possibly poisoned by a neighbor, resulting in the artist’s sorrowful refusal to paint for more than a year. Zhou did return to his favorite subject and recently completed an over-life sized sculpture of the dog with a shiny coat of green industrial paint. Although many artists from Sichuan moved to Beijing to enhance their careers, Zhou chose to stay in Chengdu, citing its tranquility.
Following the death of his dog, Zhou began to paint peach blossoms in appreciation of the value and beauty of life. Watching the flowers blossom in spring, he was deeply moved by their “flirtatious” energy and vigor. This led to a series of peach blossom expressing the primitive desire of human beings and the theme of “sex and emotion.” Bright red, sinuously shaped men embrace pink women, which Zhou heatedly describes: “In a fluid emotion and mood of colors, flows indulgence of primitive and sincere imaginations. It is the total release of human nature against a grand scene, an explosion of gentle violence!” In his fusion of delicate flowers and unbridled human passion, Zhou couples traditionally modest Chinese subjects and modern, more liberal attitudes to sexuality.