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The Art of Zhou Tiehai

Author: Fang Zengxian 2006-02-05

Zhou Tiehai was born in Shanghai in 1966 and still resides there today. In the last decade, he has become one of the most important Chinese artists active in the international contemporary art world, a wave-maker in the vast sea of contemporary art who has gained the attention and support of internationally significant collectors, curators and critics and been recognized as representative of new artistic concepts. This exhibition presents forty of the most important works created by Zhou Tiehai in the seventeen years between 1989 and 2006.

Zhou Tiehai comes to art from a rebellious position. From his earliest satirical works and his initial resistance and rupture with the so-called world of contemporary art, to his return in 1994 to the art world and his deep, repeated analysis of the artistic production chain including his own work, Zhou has been concerned with the expansiveness of contemporary art. Conceptually, he has formulated a sophisticated and audacious critique of the art system. He has undertaken his explorations with an unmatched passion combined with a child's innocence, persistence and impulsivity. In this way he has been able to offer an independent perspective on art, the world, and life generally. Compared with the larger development of contemporary art, Zhou Tiehai has consistently sung a "different tune," in the end fabricating a historical trajectory distinct from, yet parallel to, that of the rest of the art world-an "alternative history", if you will.

In this exhibition, the artist presents the viewer with a daring, rich, living, colorful and passionate experience. In my view, the aim of this exhibition is not simply to present the work of Zhou Tiehai in a complete manner, but to provide an opportunity to explore the present situation of Chinese contemporary art from another angle. I fully believe that this exhibition will be able to provide Chinese artists working today with an enhanced sense of encouragement and cultural self-confidence.

On behalf of the Shanghai Art Museum, I would like to voice my sincere congratulations, and to wish Zhou Tiehai success in his future artistic explorations. May he climb higher and see further, and may he reap ever greater results.

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