Shao Fan is a painter, sculptor and designer, who takes conventional architectural details and furniture forms and reshapes them into new objects – deconstruction and reconstruction in one.
A fascination with three-dimensional design and Chinese culture took him from painting (he was originally instructed in the direction of propaganda) toward woodcarving and ceramics, tackling ladders, benches, chairs and other ordinary-turned-extraordinary items.
Aside from their aesthetic qualities, his reconstructed works reflect a sense of humor about the booming market of faux antiques in China as well as reflections on the increased integration of Ming-era with contemporary styles.
The chairs are now found in the collections of prestigious museums and connoisseurs around the world. The Victoria and Albert Museum has some more info on the series, which you should go read in full:
“In the ‘Chairs(?)’ series (1996), Shao Fan sought to reinterpret a subject as mundane as furniture making. In the artist’s mind, Ming furniture contains the essence of Chinese philosophy. By taking furniture in the Ming style apart, and combining it with contemporary materials and design, Shao Fan wanted to express the philosophical and cultural changes and contrasts that he felt faced China today.”
About the artist, via Yang Gallery:
“A painter, designer, and sculptor, Shao Fan is best known for his series of chairs that reinterpret Ming Dynasty furniture. Shao believes that Ming furniture expresses the chief tenets of Chinese philosophy; by combining ancient designs with the clean lines and geometry of contemporary aesthetics, he suggests the cultural and philosophical changes undergone in modern-day China. Through their resemblance to Chinese characters, some of Shao’s chairs were designed to parody the modern fascination with the logography of Chinese script. He also produces oil paintings that reinterpret the old “literati” style of Chinese paintings, referencing their stark and sober palettes and drawing from Chinese philosophy through their balanced depiction of the natural world. Born into a family of renowned artists—Shao’s parents were assigned to paint Maoist propaganda during the Cultural Revolution—Shao was one of the first Chinese artists to explore the boundaries between visual art and furniture.”