Shu Yong, Bubble Woman I, 2006, Lacquered stainless steel and bronze, 80 x 60 x 60 cm.

Shu Yong's 'Controversial' Social and Political Interventions and 'games'

Shu Yong, Bubble at Office – 3, 2000-2006, Lightbox, 38 x 56 x 12 cm.

Shu Yong, Trace No. 9, 2008, oil on canvas, 79 x 119.5 cm.

Shu Yong, Guo Ge – The National Anthem, 2007, Performance in Beijing.


Galerie Urs Meile
Rosenberghöhe 4
+41 41 420 33 18
Shu Yong – Bubbles
May 17-July 5, 2008

Shu Yong (1974, Xupu, Hunan Province, China), frequently referenced as controversial in the Chinese mainstream media, differs from most artists; he persists in directly and affirmatively interferring with Chinese society.

By playing games with the government, enterprises and the media, he constantly stirs up trouble through his art in relation to the evolving features and capabilities of Chinese modern art. With respect to different circumstances, he is even trying to fundamentally and effectively change the Chinese government, and in the context of various societal developments also misinterpretations and prejudices prevailing in the masses. China’s society is thus serving him as a laboratory for his art.

By trying to follow Shu Yong’s creative approach, it is necessary to understand his use of the bubble metaphor which plays a central role in his work. While going back and forth to Zhusanjiao, he blew bubbles in the offices of several hundred renowned entrepreneurs and recorded these events photographically. Shu Yong knows that the office is a political, economic and cultural center of power with great significance, and, as well, an economic nerve center linked to what is happening in society. The ideals, accomplishments, appreciation of beauty, ambitions, temperaments, and the collection of knowledge of these entrepreneurs are conceivable in one single moment. Through the illusion created by the refraction of prismatic bubbles, we sense another hidden reality underlying so-called "reality", and perceive things that are surprisingly familiar to us. In Bubble at Office these everyday things familiar to us truly mirror the characteristics of today’s Chinese society.

In Bubble Woman, Shu Yong uses the medium of his ubiquitous bubbles by referring to today’s omni-present "bosom culture." As bosoms have long ago outgrown the category of being mere body parts, they now play the role of a political, economic, and cultural asset by strengthening the place of one of the most important characteristics of the female body. Women abandon themselves to mortal peril by undergoing surgery to change their bosoms. It it conceivable today, how female breasts are blown up as an object of foam for seemingly limitless lust and power. Bubble Woman as a mirror of society was causing controversy by leading, as well, to the deliberate destruction of these artworks so that humans could have a sensual experience by smashing the breasts.

In Chinese Myth Shu Yong uses the bubbles in his oil paintings by referring with their stories to a mythological context. As artist and architect Ai Weiwei puts it: "Shu Yong and his unspectacular bubbles are as much medium, style, concept and method. They stand for traditional Chinese mythology that leads us to our present time making new experiences and views possible. These experiences seem to impose a riddle to a Westerner’s view: inscrutable China, inscrutable mythology. It is indeed this very mysteriousness that gives China its mystical and splendid charm."

Shu Yong, Bubble at Office – 3, 2000-2008, 20 Lightboxes, 38 x 56 x 12 cm.

Shu Yong, Bubble Woman VI, 2006, Lacquered stainless steel and bronze, 80 x 60 x 60 cm.