Maohou Master Qiu Qiu: "Be close to real life and improve" (slide show) Simon Wald-Lasowski

Courtesy of the Artist Photo: Aad Hoogendoorn

A slide projector rattles and buzzes, spewing out a new and bizarre Maohou (2019) image every few seconds. What we see are the first results of an ongoing research of the Maohou tradition where that Simon Wald-Lasowski came across during a residency in Berlin in 2019. Only a handful of people still carry on this Chinese tradition of making Maohou figurines. With incredible patience and painstaking work, these miniature portraits were created using magnolia flower heads, and the limbs are made from the legs of cicada insects.

The artist managed to persuade a Maohou maker to allow him to make portraits if all his ‘monkeys’, and there were a lot of them! The images are contemporary depictions of traditional Chinese fables. With a healthy dose of humour and self-mockery, the Maohou monkeys demonstrate the most hedonistic and raw side of our human condition. They illustrate the less appealing characteristics of – obviously male – contemporary machismos with the most noxious of traits. We see tyranny, and extravaganzas of gambling, eating and drinking. Compared with these scenarios, the mythical creatures we know in the western world are simply the stuff of fairy tales, whereas the Maohou display war, power, corruption, consumption, machismo and capitalism.