Text and photo by Dexter R. Matilla
For the Philippine Daily Inquirer
CONTEMPORARY CHINESE ink painter Zhou Jun first made waves in Europe, after migrating from Shanghai to the Netherlands. Zhou is a true artist and with his wife Deng Zhiqi, they paid a visit to Adele Schlombs, director of the Museum of East Asian Art in Cologne.
With his artworks rolled up inside a large tube in tow, Zhou didn’t need to say much—partly because his English at the time wasn’t good—for Schlombs to realize the artist’s work was so powerful that she was “completely taken by surprise.”
“I had never seen contemporary ink painting as bold and as convincing as these universes,” Schlombs would write in her catalog book on Zhou Jun. “He counts among the post-traditionalists and transforms the classical landscape into universes and underwater worlds that are uninhabitable by man. They reflect the isolated existence of the modern individual.”
Thus, an exhibit that would last for half a year was held especially for Zhou. From November 2007 to April 2008, only his works from the early ’70s to 2007 was featured in the museum. And this was the first time it was done for any living artist.
Zhou, at 56, is now one of the more prominent Chinese artists to be widely accepted in Europe. His artworks can be seen in the collections of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, the British royal family, former president of the International Olympic Committee Juan Antonio Samarach, Royal Museum of Art in Amsterdam, Dutch National Bank, European Culture Commission, Austrian Ministry of Culture, and Rockefeller Foundation in the US.
Zhou now shares his art with Manila with his first one-man show in the Philippines, “Dancing with the Brush,” Jan. 7-20 at Ayala Museum in Makati. The formal opening will be tonight (Jan. 12) at 6. Guest of honor is Washington Sycip.
Zhou believes it is now Asia’s turn to make a big splash and, for him, it’s only right that he return to his roots. Manila as a cultural hub in the region is his choice destination before going back to China, where he is looking to start an art foundation. He says he wants to inspire the next generation of artists in his country by allowing them the freedom and providing them with the means to preserve Chinese art.