aka MICHAEL CHOW
Zhou Yinghua (Shanghai, China 1939) is an artist for whom the subject of time is ubiquitous.
His paintings are built from layered accumulations of material that, like an autobiographical record, mark the moments and sequence of their making. Legible amid gold and silver sheet and expressive gestures of paint are everyday objects -- a rubber glove, kitchen utensil, a fragment from a sponge. Precious metals and detritus are juxtaposed, but moreover, they are redefined in their relativism, given new meaning by the narrative of choice conveyed in their specificity. Jagged peaks and troughs of folded, torn and bunched matter create topographies of his paintings, which are then, in moments, scarred by chemical treatments, varnish or burns. It is a process that rejects templates in favor of action and reaction, where, as with life, a series of formal choices make manifest one in an infinite number of possible outcomes.
Son of famed grandmaster of Beijing Opera, Zhou Xinfang, Zhou Yinghua was born in 1939 in Shanghai to a prominent artistic family. At the age of 13, he was sent abroad to school in England where he took the western name “Michael Chow” or “M”. He went on to study at St Martin's School of Art and Hammersmith School of Building and Architecture. For over a decade, M worked as an artist in the United Kingdom, where he struggled to overcome the attitudes of exclusion that he often encountered. In 1968, he took a sabbatical from painting to open what would be his first restaurant, MR. CHOW, in Knightsbridge. MR. CHOW was an unprecedented success, with locations in major cities the world over.
M has remained deeply committed to creative endeavors of many forms. His vanguard approach to interior design helped to make MR CHOW a cultural icon. The many portraits and personalized works from the twentieth century’s most prominent artists that adorn the walls of his restaurants became integral to the experience, expanding popular notions of where important works of art can be enjoyed and cementing his status as a legendary collector and arts patron. Despite his success, the urge to return to his own artistic practice was always present. In 2012, M returned to painting after a near half-a-century hiatus. Delving in with the same vision and discipline he observed as a young man, his work in the subsequent years has been met with critical acclaim and is represented in important private and public collections.