Shu Yong

International Award “Lorenzo il Magnifico” for Lifetime Achievement 2009

In 2009 the Award “Lorenzo il Magnifico” for Lifetime Achievement was presented to Shu Yong, the internationally renowned Chinese artist, who, on this occasion, presented some of the paintings from his series Chinese Myths and screened a video featuring thrilling images and marked by a provocative charge which made a profound impression on the audience.

Shu Yong, who was born in 1974 in Xupu county, in Hunan (China), is one of the most interesting artists of the Chinese and international contemporary art scenes. He has appeared frequently in the media as a controversial artist due to his ability to challenge the very foundations of Chinese society, which he often uses as his personal laboratory. This was perfectly illustrated by his 2008 performance Bubbles in the Office, which filled offices in the most economically developed parts of Guangdong with soap bubbles. For Shu Yong, bubbles are a metaphor of secular power, of the ideals and ambitions of businessmen: mere illusions created by the reflections of the bubbles, in which we perceive a different level of reality. This is why bubbles have now become a distinctive aspect of his artistic endeavours.

In Chinese Myths, Shu Yong offers some reflections on ancient Chinese myths, which he sets in a world that is balanced precariously between the past and the present. The paintings are filled with bubbles whose countless reflections highlight the fact that this mythology can be observed from many points of view. These bubbles also cover the characters themselves, cloaking them in a veil of mystery. This is same charm that China often exercises over Westerners: that of an impenetrable mystery.

Shu Yong makes use of many mediums, including painting, performance, hyperrealist sculpture, and photography. He is an eclectic artist who has given public speeches and has had art exhibits all over the world. His creative energy shines through in his Beijing studio, where he lives and works. In this space he himself curates the exhibition of his works, and in it one can clearly perceive the dialogue that characterizes all of his artistic creations. He is an artist who has the ability to communicate important themes with a clam voice, a creative individual who, through his work, traces a path to make contemporary Chinese art an open dialogue.