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Michael Chow, globally known as creator and restauranteur of the upscale chinese house MR CHOW, is also an artist and, let’s not forget, son to Zhou Xing Fang—the former Chinese national treasurer, legendary Peking Opera Grand Master, and founder of the Qi performance style. After being born in Shanghai, Chow was sent to London at just thirteen years old due to the rise of communism in China. While he was away, and unbeknownst to him, his father was tortured during the Cultural Revolution, and died after years of house arrest in 1975. Throughout the duration of his teens and young adulthood, he never saw his father again. After attending boarding school, Chow later studied architecture at Saint Martin School of Design.
During Chow’s early twenties, he was a self-proclaimed starving artist, struggling to make a name for himself as a painter, but ultimately used his past battles to propel him. Setting his sights on bridging the East and West divide to demonstrate the greatness of China, Chow has since shown the world great food, culture, and people who populate his homeland’s vast country.
Fast-forward to this year when China is celebrating his father’s would-be 120th birthday. Coincidentally, Chow recently showed his work for the first time in nearly 50 years at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, and the Power Station in Shanghai. And now, for the first time with a solo show in the United States, Chow is gaining closure, and presenting “Voice for My Father” at The Andy Warhol Museum.
“The idea is to have my father’s stage photographs—you know he was an actor when he was six years old—and all of my work, which is large-scale painting, and my portrait collection…including Andy Warhol, Shooting Star Boy,” he told us on Wednesday night in Miami at dinner, generously supported by Christie’s and Dom Perignon at his restaurant within W South Beach during Art Basel Miami Beach. There, art, fashion and cultural luminaries shined in attendance like Bret Easton Ellis, Sir Norman Rosenthal, Sydney Picasso, Simon de Pury, Mario Testino, Stefano Tonchi, Guy Laliberte, Paris Hilton, Joyce Varvatos, his daughter China Chow, and Jeffrey Deitch—whom Chow has recently credited as being the driving force to getting back into creating art after seeing one of his pieces in his Los Angeles home.
Guests were welcomed with a special surprise performance by Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo, and accompanying pianist Vincenzo Scalero, and Beijing Opera stars Hongsong Dong, Yi Guo, and Hui Tian, and violinist Mei Yang. This sole performance provided a once in a lifetime experience bridging East and West—just as he intended to do as a young artist.
“This particular night is a pre-celebration for The Andy Warhol Museum exhibition, so I thought to take the opportunity to put Western opera and Beijing opera together,” said Chow of the night’s magical happening. “So tonight will be both performance under one roof, which is kind of a rare recital. Of course, we can’t show the full-scale Beijing opera, because Beijing opera is total theater—you have costumes, you have the band, you have the orchestra, and then you have all of the makeup, and costumes,” he said before adding, “And Vittorio Grigolo happens to be a very great friend, and one of the greatest tenors living right now.”