b. 1970, Jiangxi, China
Zhou Zixi was born in the Jiangxi Province in 1970, he lives and works in Shanghai. Since the beginning of the 2000s Zhou has created realistic paintings addressing both personal experiences and China’s complex history.
The painting’s subject matter ranges from the skyscrapers of China’s tumultuous urbanisation process, through historic events such as the demonstrations and the massacre in Tiananmen Square in 1989, and surreal scenes featuring members of China’s nouveau riche class.
The three paintings exhibited here are from a series called China 1946–1949, which refers to a specific historical period following World War II. In 1946 the Japanese invasion was exchanged for three years of civil war in China, before Mao Zedong assumed power in 1949 and established the People’s Republic of China. The paintings portray both actual and imaginary events from this turbulent period in the country’s history. By combining motifs from the past and the present the artist opens the door to new interpretations. China 1946–1949, Battle in Shanghai shows one of the many construction sites that have dominated Shanghai’s urban landscape for the past 30 years. However, in the painting, the modern building site is invaded by soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army. The title Battle in Shanghai can be interpreted as a metaphor for the contemporary “battle” that is being waged in the city, in which traditional neighbourhoods are being obliterated and replaced by high-rise buildings. By uniting elements from communist propaganda with the current building boom, the artist is commenting on the paradox of communist China’s embrace of the capitalist market forces of the West.