The Paper Culture project was founded to create a platform of cultural exchange between China and Australia, showcasing diversity through art practices in both countries, whilst strengthening links between artists, art organisations and governments through the visual arts.
Paper Culture II presents the first large scale exhibition of over thirty works by Australian artist Philip Faulks, alongside works by Chinese master paper cut artists Zhou Yunhua and Zhou Bing, at the Changzhou Museum (Jiangsu, China) from 18-22 April 2015. The exhibition expands the artists’ first meeting and collaborations for Paper Culture in Multicultural Arts Victoria’s Mapping Melbourne festival in December 2014, and offers a rare exploration of cut paper works, mixing new intercultural techniques with one of China’s oldest traditions.
Philip Faulks has been exhibiting since the 1980s, both in group exhibitions and solos. The exhibition spans Faulks’ unusual use of the paper medium, from his 2008 ink on paper works to his recent paper cuts – “reflective of the artist’s interests in free-hand drawing and the elaboration of a personal archive of images that traverse both man-made objects and natural forms” states curator Damian Smith. In comparison, Master Zhou Yunhua and Zhou Bing’s practice reflects their acclaimed work in developing and promoting the paper cutting tradition in Jiangsu – China’s hometown of paper carving.
Dating from the 6th century and registered on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List, paper cutting is still a revered and popular practice that through widespread use has evolved from a home hobby into a commercial concern. Zhou-style paper-cut utilises ideas from painting to revitalise the ancient folk-art, and falls into three Series – black, red and blue – with nearly a thousand artworks in total.
Zhou Yunhua, or Master Zhou, was born in Yixing, Jiangsu province in 1935. He is a member of the Chinese Artists Association, and was granted the title Chinese Superior Artist in 1989, an honor he retains today. Master Zhou’s Chinese painting, Surrounded by Winds, Snows, and Clouds was selected for the National Art Exhibition in 1977. Since then, more than two hundred of his masterpieces have been on display in both domestic and overseas exhibitions.
Zhou Bing, also named Muzhi, is Zhou Yunhua’s son, and the most important successor of traditional Zhou-style paper-cut. He was born in Jintan, Jiangsu province in 1969 and is a member of the Chinese Artists Association and the Jiangsu Youth Artists Association.
The immense popularity of these exquisite, brilliant and intricately carved paper-cut works cannot be understated. In 1990, five of Mr Zhou’s paper-cut works, including Picture of Happy Fish, were displayed in the first annual Jiangsu Art Exhibition and received the award Artistic Works of Excellence. His three masterpieces – Picture of Hundreds Beast, Numerous Birds Pay Respect to the Phoenix and Be Flushed With Success, were collected and retained by Jiangsu Art Museum. In 1998, Mr Zhou’s Chinese painting, Spring, was retained by the Guangdong Art Museum, and in 1999 the Zhou-style paper-cut works Reminiscences of Jiangnan were retained by the Shanghai Liuhaisu Art Museum.
Zhou-style works are extensively collected by art galleries and museums both in and beyond China, so that Mr. Zhou and his team have travelled around the globe to attend exhibitions in Japan, Norway, Finland, France, USA, Malaysia and beyond. Zhou-style paper-cut has been highly awarded including winning the “Mountain Follower Award”, China’s top prize for folk art. In 2004, a hundred pieces of paper-cut works Reminiscent of Jiangnan were permanently collected by National Museum of China. With their sights now set on a massively expanded market, the Zhous are currently considering a diversified operation that includes Zhou-style folding artworks for appreciation, collection, business gift, international culture exchange, and interior design. Significantly assisting that campaign, their paper-cut work Silhouettes of Jiangnan, was recently filmed and played by CCTV, JSTV and other TV stations.
Paper Culture II will also include a series of lectures – presented by the artists, MAV CEO Jill Morgan, and exhibition curator Damian Smith – at Jiangsu University of Technology and Changzhou Institute of Technology in China. The artists will talk about their artworks and different approaches to the paper cutting technique in China and Australia; discuss the evolution of the paper cut since its inception; and the technique as a contemporary visual language. Curator Damian Smith will present Exhibiting in Australia to outline the arts and creative sectors in Australia and how to engage with art organisations and artists to develop cultural exchange projects and exhibitions. MAV CEO Jill Morgan AM will explain MAV’s programs, events and role in promoting cultural diversity in the arts and cross-sector at a local, national and international level.
Paper Culture II , Changzhou Museum, No. 1288 Changzhou City Avenue, in the Jiangsu province (China), 18 – 22 April 2015 – multiculturalarts.com.au Organisers: Jiangsu International Culture Association and Changzhou International Culture Association. Co-organisers: Multicultural Arts Victoria (MAV) and Victoria Multicultural Education Services (VMES). Partners: Changzhou Qing Yun Ge Art and Time of Art. Supported by People’s Government of Jiangsu Province; People’s Government of Changzhou City, the State Government of Victoria, City of Melbourne, Aus Asia Finance Hub (AAFH).