Flowers on the Human’s Skull

Artists: Liang Juhui 1995
Flowers on the Human’s Skull

14 Sanyu Road is a colonial-style building that was later forcibly acquired by the state before being returned to the owner after 1978. Liang Juhui rented a venue there as his photographic studio in the early 1990s and it soon became the “headquarters” of Big Tail Elephant. It was at this location that Xu Tan did his 1993 project The Alterations and Extensions of No. 14 Sanyu Road, Guangzhou, and Big Tail Elephant presented the “No Room” exhibition in 1994. In 1995, Liang Juhui took a small room in the venue for his work, Flowers on the Human’s Skull. This installation presents a space lit with ultraviolet lights, the floor strewn with fluorescent phosphor powder and the walls marked with swastikas in varying sizes. In the center of the room stood a large glass cube. A sheet of red paper was placed on top of the cube, and on it, a human skull topped with fresh flowers was emitting vapor. The skull and flowers give an immediate association to vanitas painting that directly links with death and the transience of life, while the swastikas accentuate the cruelty of war and the countless deaths that accompany it. The strong employment of the color red can also be interpreted as the representation of both vitality and violence.

Liang Juhui, born in 1959, worked as an art director at Guangdong TV in 1982. He graduated in printing making from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 1992. He was a member of the Southern Art Salon, and later co-founded Big Tail Elephant. Liang’s works often re-examine the perception of space in the urban environment. In his most well-known piece, One Hour Game, he played video games for an hour in an industrial elevator in a building that was under construction. Liang died from a heart attack in 2006.

(Qu Chang)

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