Beijing Commune is proud to announce that on 29th May 2019, we will be launching Zhou Yilun’s second Beijing Commune solo exhibition, Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again, which will consist of entirely new works that see Zhou investigating, dismantling and reassembling elements of commercial life in a continuation of his quest to find new possibilities in “the superfluous”.
The title of the exhibition comes from the 1966 Bob Dylan song of the same name which, when he heard it with a group of young designers in 1980, inspired the 63-year-old Ettore Sottsass to form the Memphis Group of design. With an emphasis on grasping the moment of creative inspiration behind product design, the Memphis Group made use of flamboyant colors and focussed on the exercise of craft, refusing to make formal compromises in design in the name of pleasing the client.
Many of the ideals advocated by the Memphis Group – manufacture that cannot be mechanized for mass production, a rebellious way of thinking that opposes the monotonous grandeur of modernism – coincide with those of Zhou whose techniques often include making use ofexisting products, modifying and repackaging them, but in a casual and unrestricted fashion. Zhou tends to start from individual life and experience: everyday objects that seem to have become superfluous such as posters, abandoned toys and furniture not only form the materials of his work but also the source of his inspiration. Hot brands, trainers, famous basketball players, M&Ms – the various elements that make up the quotidian environment of the present day are repurposed in his works, albeit with little of the meaning originally ascribed to them.
R3PM3 is the name of the brand Zhou has created. His sensitivity to popular culture allows him to notice the commonalities between many famous brands; combining letters and numbers to turn an audio-visual logo into a visual-cultural language that transmits specific information. The brand is a product of the modern economy, the name of which itself need not have any meaning, its application blurring the boundary between the hand-made work of art, of which only a limited number are made, and the mass-produced commodity. The work Zhou has made in collaboration with JNBYHOME, a Hangzhou-based design company, mimics popular marketing techniques of the internet economy – joint ventures between brands that span sectors. Even his use of bright colors with high saturation levels finds its origins in the sports brands most enthusiastic about promoting joint-venture products. It is this intense visual embellishment coupled with the quality of “fast-paced” living that most captures the spirit of our commercial society.
This exhibition can be seen as the result of Zhou developing the ideas first seen in his Mary Montana exhibition. His recent interest in furniture has led him to consider how to endow his work with “functionality”. Almost all of the works in the exhibition offer their viewers a chance to interact with and experience them, which is a continuation of the humor, absurdity and playful irreverence of Zhou’s earlier work. As well as mocking consumerist culture, he also rails against the common idea that works of art are to be admired from a deferential distance.This is evident in the way his pieces satisfy the requirement for usability, but even more so in the fact that he has made work that speaks to its audience’s psychological needs as well as acting as objects of emotional resonance. Zhou’s reflections on commerce and his commitment to finding a way of coexisting with contemporary society has allowed him to acquire the ability to construct a narrative in which there is no place for class or authority.
Zhou Yilun was born in 1983 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the Oil Painting Department of China Academy of Art, in 2006. He currently lives and works in Hangzhou. His work has been shown at MOCA Pavilion (Shanghai), KWM Art Center (Beijing), Nicodim Gallery (Bucharest, LA), Platform China (Beijing), Inna Contemporary Art Space (Hangzhou), Yang Art Museum (Beijing), the Tampa Museum of Art (Tampa), the Oklahoma City Museum of Art (Oklahoma), the IAAB project space (Basel), and more.