Zhou Xuerong: Produce wax figure stories with their own DNA | DXDF, Grand Orient Wax Figure

October 14, 2021

"It's more fresh and alive, when it's integrated into your emotions and your life." Zhou Xuerong, the waxwork artist and founder of “WEIMUKAILA” wax museum, she has made more than 700 different waxworks with her team since 1999.


Photo of waxwork “Grandma” and founder Zhou Xuerong. This statue is based on her grandmother.


On the sofa in Zhou xuerong's office sits an old woman with reading glasses doing needlework. Grandma has a beautiful rose red on face, a few strands of silver hair under the brim of her hat, wrinkled and callused hands and unfinished insoles, this kind of face and kind of eyes make the whole office air is warm and quiet. This is statue of “Grandma”, which is Zhou Xuerong completed in 2015 and also the first wax figure of a familiar person she made.


After four years of this wax figure was finished, her grandmother went to another world, and the statue has always been with Zhou. During the interview, when talked about her deepest love grandma, she still cannot hold back the tear. “Grandma" was created by Zhou Xuerong for her grandma when she was 90 years old. After four years her grandmother passed away, she kept her grandma's hair.


Zhou xuerong recalls that she felt happy and warm with her grandma when she was little, and she always wanted to express this warmth through wax art. Later Zhou settled down in Zhongshan, Guangdong, and took her grandma aside for retirement, she was struck by the idea of making wax figures for her grandmother, who was also supportive. "When the clay model was finished, I showed it to my grandma because the color was wrong and there was no hair transplanted. My grandma looked at it and asked me jokingly, 'Who is this old monk? '"


In order to restore the authenticity, the hands in waxwork “Grandma” are all modeled by real hands of her grandma, so the marks of her rheumatoid arthritis can be clearly seen on the hands from the statue. The clothes of the wax figure is also old clothes worn by her grandma before.


In addition to “Grandma”, Zhou also created a series of wax figures to showing her father and father-in-law playing chess face to face. "It was a nice day when I came home and saw they are playing chess on the balcony, with the sun shining on them in beautiful lines drawing, such a wonderful scene I think. Thinking of the relationships of the older generation of many families, I saw this sense of harmony and I immediately felt a desire to express it.


Photo of waxwork “Father and father-in-law” with founder Zhou Xuerong (right rear) and his husband Liu Zhen (Left rear). This statue is based on their father.


Zhou laughed that her father had grown his hair long to support her creation. "My father had never had such long hair, and he said, 'The hair is sticking my ears, you have to see if it's long enough, I gonna cut it. '" Finally, when Zhou Xuerong completed the "Father and father-in-law" wax figures, the authenticity of the statue, actually succeeded in "cheating" the wax figures expert.


Zhou says these have "visual DNA” levels wax work, easy to achieve "cheating" effect in the visual experience is one reason why - " The wax figure is super realistic, except the wax figure skin texture, wrinkles, spots, moles, hair and other texture treatment is the same as a real people, also necessary to integrate all the details with the character's personality and spiritual temperament, and restore more life and live marks of the waxwork.


The artistic creation concept of "visual DNA" is an artistic innovation concept that Zhou Xuerong has continuously explored and accumulated in her long-term practice. The origin can be traced back to the "hyper realistic encounter and dialogue" of Mr. Leng Jun, a Chinese hyperrealist oil painter. "In an art exhibition, I saw his art works and feel quite shocked, that painting can be done to hide and even eliminate all the brush strokes on the printing, which is highly consistent with what I want to pursue in the creation of wax figures. I suddenly came up with the idea of creating a wax figure for Teacher Leng Jun, and he happily agreed.


Founder Zhou Xuerong (right) creates a wax figure with painter Leng Jun.


In processing of customized to LengJun, she got a whim again, his art works and our wax figures are in the pursuit of visual experience to the extreme, but in 2D visual sense of graphic images and 3D visual sense of wax figures in space, they are all trying to restore physical visual "things" through metaphysical perception, but there is a lack of "true". "That is to say, for the 'real' life of the motif, hyper realistic paintings and wax figures are 'false', and they all just visual 'illusion'."


Therefore, Zhou hopes to start from materials, using the concept of modern biology, and implant life "materials" representing the motif, such as hair transplant, into the wax figures. "Doesn't this preserve the DNA of the motif in the wax work? In this way, wax figure works have its different meaning of life, with the 'password' and 'soul' of life.


The concept of the "visual DNA" wax figure was born. At present, Zhou Xuerong hopes to create a wax museum with more national brand value and spread Chinese cultural values through the art form of wax figures. She insists to choose motif of wax figures on the artistic themes and Chinese stories that contribute to the society, such as Yuan Longping, Yang Liwei and other representative persons from all walks of life gradually introduced into the wax museum, lets every single wax figure to tell the "China story" of this era.


Founder Zhou Xuerong (left) and Yuan Longping wax figures.

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