Born: Xiangfan City, Hubei province, 1971.
It was not uncommon for classical Chinese artists to paint the same subject over and over. They might focus on landscapes, courtiers, animals or flowers. Liu Haizhou paints chickens—dead ones. He has painted them reclining like classical nudes, slumped like hungover party-goers, and piled up like garbage. To him, factory-farmed chicken meat is emblematic of the changes taking place in China: mass production, which turns living things into commodities; the mass consumption it has made possible; and mass contagions like SARS and avian flu. Gorgeousness Overripe No. 17 (2005) shows chickens, bright green with putrefaction, pink with toxic mould and scrawled with graffiti: “We love eating chicken,” “Chicken is the best gift”. Gorgeousness Overripe No. 21 (2007) presents chicken piled like coal among smoking chimney stacks. The artist—who, in one of the White Rabbit Collection’s most unlikely pairings, is married to Du Jie—hopes his pictures will make people reconsider their habits, and counter “this industrialised, artificial world” with a more “natural way”.