Zhu arrived in Beijing East Village in 1992. Unlike fellow artists in the East Village, Zhu was not trained academically. He had been living in poor conditions, then made his name in the East Village with many performance pieces where he blew playful bubbles. In 1996, Zhu realized Mona Lisa. In this piece, he dressed up as the familiar figure from the history of art, remaining naked above the waist. During the performance, he kept working a pump he had made that emitted bubbles. There was a certain erotic implication involved by the pumping hand motion. We can almost hear faint but final sounds of the bubbles popping. Here there was no death, only eternal existence, presenting a spiritual mysterious color and implying the fleeting moment of life.
Zhu’s oeuvre often speaks to the existentialistic relationship of nature, body and life. Illusion alternates perpetually with reality, with this pessimistic worldview and the visual appropriation of bubbles. For many critics, these can be understood as a metaphor for the uterus, and can be related to the artist’s supportive relationship with his mother, who raised him alone during the waning years of the Cultural Revolution.