Heads wrapped in yarn with only one eye peeking out, faces replaced with clocks, or necks transformed into springs and mouths made into beaks: with all these strangely deformed faces, what do these images represent? And why are they like this?
Zou Liangping, who hails from Hubei province, is currently doing an MFA in watercolor at the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute. These illustrations are part of her “dream series.” “Dreams are a bridge connecting the real world to a virtual world,” she says. “Painting, as a way of portraying the self’s position between dreams and reality, has a very direct relationship to the awakening and establishment of a person’s self-consciousness. These works are a subjective representation of the self in dreams and reality, from a physical state to a mental state.”
At first glance, each of the figures in the scenes has a large head, and the scenes playing out inside each one, or their metaphoric significance, are all different.
“Every story is the visual manifestation of individual and social experience, mental and emotional experience, creative experience, and meditates on a specific theme. It represents a moment’s mood and gives insight into my life,” says Zou.
Each figure in these images has an indifferent outer appearance and a rich inner world, and that may be the truest depiction of the current generation. Not yet thirty, Zou is an only child, like most people her age in China. Having no siblings and growing up amid the increasing alienation of a rapidly urbanizing society, Chinese artists of this generation often make silence and reflection a dominant theme of their work.
其实，画面中每一个人都具有淡漠的外表和丰富的内心世界，也是这一代人最真实的写照。身为 90 后的邹良平，也是独生子女中的一员。在从小没有兄弟姐妹陪伴的情况下，这一代年轻人常常形单影只，并且随着城市化到来人与人之间的感情变得更加疏离，旋即而来的是沉默和思考，成为盘踞大脑的主旋律。
And so, to present these themes, Zou has placed all sorts of objects within the heads and faces of her characters. All of these elements carry symbolic meaning and are used to reveal each character’s emotions, personality, contemplations, and behavior. Zou says this approach is her way of conveying the idea that how a person perceives the external world is directly related to their own thoughts.
Her paintings appear to use an irrational artistic form to reflect the fantastical. A closer look, however, shows that the irrational actually has its reason. “All I’m doing is recreating reality with my meandering artistic method,” she explains. Zou’s “fantastical” approach to painting lets her make free use of imagination to present her vision of reality as surreal, dream-like portraits.
再细细一瞧，她的画看似采用非理性的艺术形式反映了荒诞的内容，实则非理性之中隐含着理性。这种 “荒诞” 的绘画方式，可以让邹良平自由自在地发挥想象，“以曲折的艺术手法再度创造现实”，以梦，为马。