Zhou Zixi paints scenes of two very different Chinas: the poor, civil war-embroiled, mid-20th-century China and the glossy consumer haven of today. In so doing, he denounces the collective attempts to forget the bloody past while criticizing the unabashed pursuit of material gain. In Zhou’s art, as in reality, these two Chinas sometimes intersect. For instance, soldiers from the 1940s find themselves amidst a modern construction site in the monumental painting Battle in Shanghai (2007). One critic noted that the work reminds us that both fighting and building “incur a kind of violence to the landscape, leaving a visible scar.” Another painting of an empty flagpole piercing a blue sky embodies Zhou’s message: that while China has forsaken its historic national identity, it has yet to raise a new flag defining its contemporary character.