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Zhou Chunya (B. 1955)
Clear Sky
signed and dated in Chinese and Pinyin '2006 Zhou Chunya' (lower right)
oil on canvas
201 x 250 cm. (79 1/8 x 98 5/8 in.)
Painted in 2006
Timezone 8 Ltd., Zhou Chunya, Beijing, China, 2010 (illustrated, pp. 484-485).

Lot Essay

In 2000, Zhou Chunya began the 'Peach Blossoms' series, further broadening his artistic expression. The series shows a deep influence of traditional Chinese brushwork and themes of the great Chinese masters. Unlike his contemporaries, Zhou's emphasis is less on political and social issues and more on the plants and animals, embodying elements of traditional Chinese literati paintings. He has skilfully incorporated Western forms of artistic expression with traditional Chinese subjects, a quality that can be described as 'combining Chinese essence with Western technique'.
In the Chinese painting tradition, peach blossoms are symbolic of femininity, fragility, fertility and lust. Indeed, Zhou said his peach blossom paintings were inspired by his third wife, Shuang Shuang, and acknowledged that his peach blossoms have straightforward sexual connotations. 'All my paintings are about passion and romance. Lust is an integral part of being human, something we are born with. What is more, our erotic feelings and desires are a manifestation of vitality, of life in its prime.'
This sense of passion and exuberance is expressed in Clear Sky (Lot 409). A single branch of peach blossom stands out against a clear blue sky, with a few vibrant petals in their prime juxtaposed with ones about to fall. The area around the branch is out of focus, centring the focus on the blossom. The bright hues of the petals imbue the image with a sense of exhilaration, passion and love. The dripping paint, a favourite and frequently used technique of Zhou's, dramatises the transience of beauty. The artist combines the traditional Chinese poetic associations of the peach blossoms with Western expressive elements and vibrant colours, creating a new artistic language that is entirely his own.

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