Photo by Jeffrey Anzevino

Photo by Jeffrey Anzevino

YouYe "YoYo" Chu

Born in Shanghai in 1974, YoYo graduated from the Shanghai Institute of Applied Technology in 1999, majoring in Advertising Design. Bored with her work in an ad agency, she charted a new course in 2004 to pursue advanced coursework in oil painting at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, which was founded in 1928 as China’s first art university. In 2005 Ms. Chu established a studio in Shanghai and began teaching at the Shanghai Art and Design Academy—another of China’s oldest, most influential and best known art colleges. During these formative years when her art began to blossom, she was mentored by Yu Youhan, widely considered the father of abstract painting and Political Pop in China; Su Liang Professor at the Graduate Institute of Art History in Tawian; and Wu Jun professor at Shanghai’s Academy of Fine Arts.

The Taiwanese art curator and critic Elaine Suyu Liu has described Ms. Chu’s early work as personal and private with a tendency towards individual fragmentation and loneliness. These characteristics are revealed in her oil paintings of otherwise everyday subjects such as chairs, stairs, and masks rendered in strong colors, bold lines and brush strokes, plastic distortion, and exaggeration.

Although a proud Shanghainese, Ms. Chu’s education and world travels have exposed her to European styles of painting, especially the works of Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Salvador Dali, Marc Chagall, Edvard Munch, and Georg Baselitz, as well as Aboriginal Art by Australia’s leading Indigenous artists. As a result, her paintings blur the lines between east and west, old and new and, according to Ms. Liu, lean heavily on Expressionism, revealing the bewilderment and anxiety so prevalent in contemporary life.